NEXTpittsburgh recently reported on the news that both Zoom and Mindera Software are opening local offices and hiring software engineering talent.

These announcements come after dozens of innovative technology companies — from Google and Uber to Facebook and many others — have set up operations in Pittsburgh.

How did we arrive here? A new feature published in looks at the decades-long foundational work that paved the way for attracting cutting-edge tech companies and top talent to our region:

“Zoom’s expansion into Pittsburgh offers fresh evidence that the city can attract name brands in tech. But don’t sleep on the unsung heroes who have been working for years,” writes Stephen Babcock in

Looking at the history of innovation in Pittsburgh, Babcock writes:

“It can be tempting to read this change, coming decades after the city lost one-third of its population when the steel industry collapsed, as a recent phenomenon. After all, it brings together the post-Recession push toward cities and new economies. Yet it’s worth remembering that the innovation ecosystem didn’t just arrive with Google. After all, the company sought out CMU for its expertise in AI that took decades to develop. The groundwork for Carnegie Mellon and Pitt’s expertise and resulting talent pool in artificial intelligence and robotics dates back to the 1950s, when then-professor Herbert Simon and Allen Newell are credited with pioneering the field. Even Zoom can trace its legacy to CMU, as the first video call took place 50 years before the company launched.”

Babcock also reports on how technology has impacted the growth of some of our region’s largest employers:

” … some of the largest employers with headquarters in Pittsburgh are also now the largest tech employers. Take PNC. The company doubled in size following the acquisition of Cleveland-based National City Corp. in the wake of the 2008 recession. Now it is positioning itself as a tech company that delivers financial services, rather than the other way around. And it’s true of some of the biggest companies across the region: BNY Mellon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dollar Bank, Federated, Covestro, Lanxess. These jobs often come with stable benefits and the chance to get the experience that comes from working at a large company.”

In examining the region’s strengths, Babcock also cites Pittsburgh’s culture of university-led research, robotics centers, startup accelerators and incubators, expansion in education, healthcare and financial sectors and neighborhood growth.

He describes Pittsburgh as a place where people want to move and can get involved — and where “pathways for talent” are created.

“Come to Pittsburgh if you want to build something,” Russo said.

Read the entire article here.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...