Opinion and Editorials

EDITORIAL: City's IT sector finding a groove

January 8, 2011

Indianapolis has spent more than a decade craving a robust information technology sector. Now there are signs that craving is being satisfied.

Chief among those signs is the sale Dec. 22 of Aprimo Inc. for $525 million, about 6-1/2 times its annual sales. The company founded here in 1998 by Bill Godfrey and Rob McLaughlin is a giant in the world of measured marketing. Together with other local firms that create marketing-management software, Aprimo has helped make a name for Indianapolis in that growing software niche.

So why is Aprimo’s sale to Dayton, Ohio-based Teradata a good thing? Because the stock options owned by current and former employees of the firm now become cash, some of which will, theoretically, be used to start new tech firms here. And outside investors who put capital into Aprimo now have firsthand experience with successful Indianapolis software entrepreneurs and cash that they, too, can use to back new ideas.

Every success story adds to the city’s appeal as a technology hub. The difference between the sale of Aprimo in December and one of the city’s first successful tech firms, Software Artistry, which sold in 1997 for $200 million, is that the city is now better positioned to capitalize.

Software Artistry, which employed Godfrey and McLaughlin and gave them the expertise and financial wherewithal to form Aprimo, was sold when the city’s tech sector was in its infancy. Today, the city’s talent pool is deeper and broader thanks to the culture created by Aprimo and its peer companies.

Grass-roots groups, such as Hackers and Founders, have sprung up around the city, luring hundreds of 20- and 30-somethings to events where they network casually with other would-be entrepreneurs and technology mentors. As reported in last week’s IBJ, Hackers and Founders has 400 members and draws about 200 to its monthly meetings.

It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that some of the money from the Aprimo sale will, in the not-too-distant future, back an idea hatched at one of those meetings. Maybe a future technology success story—or stories—will result.

An entrepreneurial culture isn’t built overnight. It’s taken years of hard work, dedication and a belief that it could happen here. We’re happy for the individuals involved—and for the city as a whole—that the foundation for a successful tech sector is now in place.•

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To comment on these editorials, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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