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Why Arizona? Acronis CEO John Zanni shares insight on choosing Arizona over Silicon Valley

Spurring Growth in the Valley of the Sun


Since opening Acronis SCS’s doors in Scottsdale earlier this year, I’ve often been asked: Why Arizona? With a business model laser-focused on serving the U.S. public sector’s backup and recovery, edge data security, and cyber protection needs, why put down roots here over, say, DC and Silicon Valley? 

My answer is threefold. With impressive defense and tech infrastructure already in place, access to the nation’s top talent, and a high standard of living, Arizona is a force to be reckoned with in cybersecurity.  

In the defense space, Acronis SCS is working with four coalitions that advocate, protect, and advance the state’s already-extensive defense footprint. In addition, Phoenix is home to the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, an organization dedicated to matching service members transitioning to civilian life with job training opportunities via the SkillBridge program. With the Coalition’s help, Acronis SCS is proud to have a workforce made up of more than 20% US veterans. Both Arizona and our company recognize the skills and leadership those who have served can bring to the cybersecurity industry. 

In tech, Governor Ducey and the state are committed to positioning Arizona as a hotbed of innovation. With programs like the Arizona Innovation Challenge, a ranking in the top ten states for business three years in a row, and Phoenix’s spot in the top ten U.S. cities for startups, it is little wonder more than 300 companies have relocated to Arizona since 2015 alone. Just two weeks ago, the National Governors Association recognized Arizona’s growing tech leadership, selecting it to participate in an election cybersecurity policy academy alongside just five other states. This landscape, coupled with partnerships Acronis SCS has already fostered with six state organizations, provides ample space to stimulate growth and provide thought leadership in the cybersecurity field.

That brings me to Arizona’s exceptional talent pool. The state is home to two of the nation’s top twenty public high schools and equally impressive universities. Arizona State University (ASU), for one, repeatedly ranks as the nation’s most innovative school and sits in the top sixth percentile for research and development spending. ASU is not alone; universities across Arizona are dedicating resources to emerging tech and cultivating the brightest cyber talent. Acronis SCS is helping bring that innovative spirit to life by working with the Partnership for Economic Innovation to develop applied research centers with matching industry and state funding and recruiting those who want to make a difference in an evolving field. 

Lastly, Arizona’s quality of life is hard to beat. Housing prices around Phoenix are roughly 60% lower than in the DC metro area and nearly 75% lower than Silicon Valley. And with 300 days of sunshine a year, studies show Arizona residents are happier than their DC and California counterparts. Couple these factors with Acronis SCS’s commitment to provide our employees with high paying jobs – all well above minimum wage, with an average salary of about $100k – and you have a happy and economically comfortable workforce. That equals productivity and creativity, two qualities we know are critical for solving the US public sector’s most pressing cyber challenges.  

In recent years, you may have heard some term Arizona the Silicon Desert. But don’t let that nickname conjure up false images of a Silicon Valley copycat. With its unique approach to tech, defense, and business, Arizona is forging a path all its own. Our leadership at Acronis SCS, as well as the more than thirty people we have hired in less than nine months across a range of disciplines – from security engineering and application hardening to communications and sales – are proud to call it home.  

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