Infosys, Salesforce Tower, IoT lab among year's biggest local tech stories

December 29, 2017

There was a slew of important tech stories across central Indiana this year, but the biggest may be the decision by Infosys Ltd. to locate the first of its four U.S. tech hubs in Indianapolis and create as many as 2,000 jobs by the end of 2021.

The India-based technology consulting firm said it would spend $8.7 million to lease and equip a 60,000-square-foot to 80,000-square-foot office space in the metro area. It later moved into the OneAmerica Tower.

It was the biggest jobs commitment a company has made to Indiana Economic Development Corp. officials in more than a decade. The largest was Honda’s pledge to create 2,067 jobs when it opened a manufacturing plant in Greensburg in 2006.

Tim Cook, CEO of KSM Location Advisors, said the Infosys announcement was important in part because it’s a company that decided to locate in Indianapolis, rather than an existing company expanding here.

“This was a huge competitive win for the city and state and creates a great opportunity to build a tech workforce infrastructure that will enable Indy to continue to aggressively compete for big tech deals,” Cook told IBJ. “Attracting and creating that scale of talent will be a huge challenge, but if central Indiana is successful it could distinguish itself against its competitor cities and become the dominant tech hub in the Midwest.”

The Indiana center is the first of four tech and innovation hubs that Infosys plans to open in the U.S. that will employ a total of 10,000 workers, the company said. Since the Indianapolis announcement, Infosys said it would put a hub in Providence, Rhode Island, and one in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. The fourth location hasn’t been announced.

But Infosys wasn’t the only big tech story of the year. Here’s a list of other notable news items:

San Francisco-based tech giant Salesforce.com Inc. put its name and logo on the former Chase Tower, the state’s largest office building, where it is establishing its regional headquarters.

In May, Salesforce began occupying 11 floors in the 48-story building. The move follows the company’s announcement in spring 2016 that it would add 800 workers by 2021, boosting its downtown employment to 2,200.

Matt Ray, the mobile practice leader at eImagine, said the Salesforce name on the former Chase Tower “truly represents a visible and fundamental shift in the identity of central Indiana toward a true engineering powerhouse beyond the realm of motorsports and manufacturing.”

“We continue to see amazing Salesforce alum head new companies to such a degree that Salesforce is also being viewed as a significant incubator in technology both here and globally and it’s an exciting time to see the innovation that is coming out of that strong position,” Ray said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb convinced lawmakers to designate $250 million to tech startups. The money is a successor to the Next Generation Trust Fund, a decade-old pool of money originally funded by former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ lease of the Indiana Toll Road. But it will now be available to be used as venture capital.

The Next Level Fund tapped prominent investor Bill Godfrey, the former CEO of marketing software firm Aprimo, and Cindy Lucchese, Hulman & Co.’s chief financial officer, as its two non-governmental board members. They join State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, Indiana Economic Development Corp. President Elaine Bedel and Indiana Office of Management and Budget Director Micah Vincent in overseeing the investments.

The city of Fishers announced the state’s first internet-of-things lab near its popular co-working space, Launch Fishers.

The 24,562-square-foot Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers will be located at 9059 Technology Drive in Northeast Commerce Park, near East 116th Street and Interstate 69. The goal will be to bring together and nurture various players in the growing IoT sector to allow for innovation and collaboration.

Indiana University and ClearObject, formerly known as CloudOne, are founding members of the lab. ClearObject plans to open a second office in the space to serve as the company’s technology and project services center.

Angie’s List is acquired by the parent of HomeAdviser for $505 million and becomes of a new publicly traded company called ANGI Homeservices.

The Angie’s List brand survived the merger (as did the HomeAdvisor brand), although the Indianapolis operation suffered deep cuts. From January through the end of September, roughly 550 employees either left Angie’s List voluntarily or were laid off. ANGI Homeservices planned to lay off another 230 people this fall. In October, Angie’s List had about 1,000 employees, down from about 2,100 in 2014.

Also in October, ANGI Homeservices listed for sale the entire Angie's List corporate campus, a 17.5-acre property that helped revitalize a section of Indianapolis just east of downtown.

Central Indiana officials joined forces to bid for Amazon’s HQ2 project, a second headquarters the company announced it would build in a metro area of at least a million people.

A “small, diverse group of business and private stakeholders” coordinated and funded by the Indy Chamber and led by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness were responsible for the effort in Indianapolis.

In all, Amazon received 238 proposals, but Indy officials kept the details of their bid secret.

The region lost a coding school and gained one. The Iron Yard announced in July that it would close all locations across the country, including its Indianapolis campus at 451 E. Market St., at the end of the summer. The Indy campus had six staff members and had previously graduated 69 students.

Just a few months later, the for-profit Kenzie Academy opened in downtown Indianapolis and planned to offer its first class in January. “By choosing Indianapolis for their first flagship tech apprenticeship school, Kenzie Academy legitimizes the hell out of the Indy tech scene,” said Kara Kavensky, co-founder of inX3.org, an annual local tech event. “Working to meet the demand for quality software developers, Kenzie Academy helps to fill the widening gap in this space, which is critical for startup and scaling tech companies.”

Fishers-based not-for-profit Eleven Fifty Academy is the only other in-person coding school in the region.

Others: Formstack, Fizziology, SmarterHQ, ClearObject, DoubleMap, DeveloperTown, Koorsen Fire & Security and several other Indiana tech firms made the Inc. 5000 list.

Scott McCorkle joined High Alpha. Sigstr completed a $5 million venture round. Fast-growing social media research firm Fizziology was acquired by MarketCast. Software firm Lessonly raised $8M in latest funding round. And On Target Laboratories Inc., a company developing cancer-imaging technology developed at Purdue University, raised $40 million.


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