Geofeedia cuts Indy marketing operations in reorganization, loses local leader

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Chicago-based Geofeedia Inc., which opened an Indianapolis office in 2015 and has a state incentives deal to employ hundreds here by 2020, is eliminating its local sales and marketing staff, CEO Phil Harris told IBJ on Thursday afternoon—a move that could thwart the company's lofty hiring goals.

The company also lost the public face of its local operations—vice president of product management R.J. Talyor—in what Harris said was an unrelated move.

The social-media analytics company employs about 30 people in downtown Indianapolis. The job cuts will affect four people. Geofeedia's remaining local employees all work in technology, Harris said, and that operation, which has open positions, will continue to grow.

Harris shared the news with Indianapolis employees in person early Thursday. He told IBJ the cuts are part of a realignment aimed at having sales and marketing professionals mature under leaders at one office: Chicago.

He said he decided to cut the positions in Indianapolis—rather than offer the workers opportunities to relocate to Chicago—because of sales, marketing and account-management leadership voids in Chicago.

"We're looking to add new leaders and I think they're going to have strong opinions on the kinds of teams they want to build," he said.

He also cited leadership challenges and high attrition rates for sales and marketing jobs at the Indianapolis office.

"We hired a lot of people on the sales and marketing side—and account managers—and it's naturally attrited down," Harris said. "At the same time, we hired a lot of engineers and product managers, and that continues to build with no attrition."

Harris said the departure of Talyor, an IBJ Forty Under 40 honoree this year, was unrelated to the realignment and had more to do with Talyor's ambition to lead his own company. Talyor, a former marketing exec for Salesforce and ExactTarget, was with Geofeedia for almost two years.

"R.J. was the external face of the company here, and we will replace that external face," Harris said. "However, he will go on and graduate from Geofeedia and achieve great things as CEO of another company."

Reached by phone, Talyor declined to comment on the departure.

In April 2015, the Geofeedia signed an agreement with the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to add 336 jobs by 2020 to its then-staff of 16 in exchange for up to $4.4 million in conditional tax credits. Harris told IBJ shortly after reaching the incentives agreement that the company was considering moving its headquarters to Indianapolis.

The company has been awarded less than $8,300 in credits so far for its job-creation efforts, according to the IEDC. The credits are conditional, and only can be claimed as the company adds employees.

On Thursday, Harris said he couldn't predict whether or not the company would meet the employment targets. He said he had envisioned having a multi-divisional office here, but sales and marketing growth just never caught traction.

"When we opened the office here, we had hoped to build it into a fully cross-functional team," he said, "and it didn't unfold that way."

Despite the shakeup, Harris said Geofeedia continues to grow, notching record sales the past two months and growing revenue 300 percent between 2014 and 2015.

In April, Geofeedia earned "Scale-up of the Year" honors at Techpoint's Mira Awards for firms with annual revenue between $5 million and $20 million.

It also raised $17 million in venture capital earlier this year.

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