ExactTarget’s $2.5B sale rippling in Indy tech scene

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When Salesforce.com bought ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013, it was like throwing a rock into a pond.

That's how former ExactTarget CMO Tim Kopp describes the impact of the acquisition, and those ripples will continue to broaden the local tech environment for the foreseeable future.

"It helps with [attracting] capital, it helps with [recruiting] people, and it helps legitimize our city on a national basis," Kopp said at IBJ's Technology Power Breakfast, held Friday at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

Several former ExactTarget executives, Kopp included, have taken some of their exit cash and reinvested in local emerging companies. Founders Scott Dorsey, Chris Baggott and Peter McCormick have invested in local startups including Lesson.ly, Tinderbox and Bluebridge Digital.

Kopp has done some angel investing himself and was recently tapped to head the new Indianapolis office of Chicago-based Hyde Park Venture Partners.

Indianapolis is also increasingly attracting the eyes of investors from outside the state. Brad Bostic, CEO of hc1.com and a Power Breakfast panelist, said he recently spoke with one outside investor who "apologized for not having any investments in Indianapolis" because he missed out on some great success stories.

Bostic also said the ExactTarget deal was a great inspiration for future tech activity in Indianapolis: “Seeing that you can do it here is creating a lot of additional opportunities.”

With respect to talent, several ExactTarget employees are taking what they learned and getting involved in other local companies, including several startups. One notable example is R.J. Talyor, who was tapped to lead product at fast-growing social-media analytics company Geofeedia.

There are many others:

— Wes Antrobus, a former ExactTarget marketing director, joined Geofeedia as head of Inside Sales in December.

— Mitch Frazier, former chief of staff to the CEO at ExactTarget, became vice president of marketing at Tinderbox in January.

— Mallory Lee, a former ExactTarget marketing manager, joined Bluebridge in January as vice president of marketing.

— Dave Sears, former director of accounting at ExactTarget, was named Bluebridge controller in December.

— Darin Brown, who led Salesforce Marketing Cloud's Excelerate unit, joined Angie's List as senior vice president of technology in January.

— Eric Prugh, previously head of content under Salesforce Marketing Cloud's chief product officer, joined PactSafe Inc. as COO in early March.

— James Goldman, former vice president and business information security officer at ExactTarget, joined CloudOne as chief trust and security officer in October.

Kopp said that the rich local talent pool—and not just from ExactTarget—is among the top reasons companies from Chicago and other cities are establishing offices in Indianapolis.

"It's really to take advantage of all the things we're seeing in our ecosystem," Kopp said. "I have the opportunity to travel all over the country, all over the Midwest and I wouldn't trade the ecosystem that we have for any."

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