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High Alpha, Appirio partner to grow startups faster

February 9, 2016

High Alpha Studios LLC builds and funds software companies. Appirio Inc., a technology services firm, has a network of roughly 1 million coders. Both Indianapolis-based businesses feel they can help each other on multiple fronts, so they're partnering.

High Alpha and Appirio announced Tuesday that they're embarking on a long-term relationship marked by a multi-faceted exchange of resources and access, the first deal of its kind for either company. The arrangement is notable for High Alpha, helmed by local tech luminary Scott Dorsey, because it could allow the studio to turbocharge its ambition of pumping out enterprise-software companies.

For Appirio, which had $200 million in revenue last year, the deal grants it first-hand participation in the emerging field of so-called "venture studios" and paves the way for future revenue streams.

"This is something we're really excited about," said Appirio Vice President Steve Pruden, whose firm moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Indianapolis late last year. "It's just more evidence to the amount of cutting-edge, software-as-a-service excitement going on here in Indianapolis."

One pillar of the deal involves Appirio's robust pool of freelancers, which include software engineers, user-experience technicians and others. High Alpha will have special access to this network, which could help its portfolio companies go from idea to product rapidly.

"When we're building [minimum viable products], when we're pursuing multiple directions concurrently," said High Alpha partner Kristian Andersen, "the ability for us to spin up 10, 20, 50 developers on demand is a huge competitive advantage for High Alpha."

High Alpha makes money when its portfolio companies experience some kind of exit—an acquisition or an initial public offering. Its operations are fueled by $35 million in investments it landed early last year.

Appirio's bread-and-butter is helping large enterprises implement and use technology from companies like Salesforce.com and Workday Inc. Under the recent deal, Appirio will benefit by being in pole position to do the same for the customers of High Alpha's portfolio companies.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but part of the arrangement involves Pruden getting a board seat on a soon-to-be-announced High Alpha portfolio company.

Appirio, which has 1,250 employees worldwide and roughly 155 in Indianapolis, will also advise High Alpha on matters related to building enterprise cloud companies.
 

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