Demystifying Software Tech – for Recruiters

The shortage of experienced software engineers in Southern California is remarkable. Our recruiting practice has become more focused on that area in the last 12 month or so. This situation has caused in-house corporate recruiters to work harder and know more about software, the market, and how to talk to engineers to give their company any kind of decent shot of landing the difference makers.
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The Data Storage Industry in SoCal

Little by little, industry by industry, I plan on building useful Southern California reference posts. My hope is to get plenty of feedback in comments to help build the most complete and useful listings possible. I’m sure I’m not hitting every local company in these industry-focused posts…but I am pretty sure I’m including all the heavy hitters. That’s the useful place to start anyway. If you know there’s a Broadcom or a Disney in town, you can bet that they’ll be orbited by supporting companies, spin-offs, and talent. So today I take a first pass at data storage in the region.
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Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 4 of 4)

For the first installments to see how we got here: (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). We finish up going through Orange County and San Diego to visit some of the major digital media and tech companies…along with some minor ones that have caught my attention for one reason or another.

Top Executive-Search-Los Angeles  - Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 4 of 4)Executive Search Jobs SoCal Industries On to Orange County

First stop is Emulex Corporation (jobs, ticker, blog) in Costa Mesa. These guys are one of the world’s main suppliers for high-speed host bus and network adaptors, using various transfer protocols, including Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and 10 Gb/s Ethernet. Very technical, and no, we probably won’t be seeing Emulex commercials during the Jets game this weekend. Follow the signs to the 55 Freeway north to Santa Ana to visit MSC.Software Corporation and STEC. In ’09, Symphony Technology Group purchased all shares of MSC (jobs, blog) and took it private and off the NASDAQ. STG also purchased Shopzilla earlier this year…changing the details of this previous post. MSC is in the computer-aided engineering biz—their software allows design and simulation of complex systems in a variety of industries. STEC (jobs, ticker, blog) is one of the few pure plays in SSD technology—the higher performance, solid state replacement for high capacity magnetic storage. Back to the 405 Freeway and Jamboree is Specific Media. These guys got a huge funding payday in ’07 before the crash, and earlier this year scooped up MySpace on the cheap from Fox. Specific (jobs) is one of the first and biggest specialists in online ad targeting technology. Further down Jamboree Road near the 73 freeway is Mindspeed Technologies (jobs, ticker, blog), makers of optical and media processors for a variety of applications. A little south on the 73 are Linksys and Broadcom Corporation. Yes, Linksys has been part of Cisco Systems for years now, but I continue to think of them as an independent. They make the best wireless routers for the home and small business. Broadcom (jobs, ticker) is a huge maker of communications products at the chip level. They were a spectacular stock win during the Internet Boom v1.0.

Let’s head to the northwest, cut across the UCI campus and visit the center of gravity of Orange County tech. Sage Software and Quartics are right across the street from one another on Irvine Center drive. Sage (jobs, ticker) is the North American arm of a UK company and they have a dizzying array of CRM software solutions for small and medium sized businesses. Some enterprise solutions as well. The very popular Act! package is their baby. Quartics (jobs) is a small company with SoC solutions for video. They’re ramping up 2D to 3D capabilities with technology licensed from DDD. A little south on the 5 freeway to get to Corporation and Kelley Blue Book. KBB (jobs) is well-known for their used car information products. (jobs, ticker) recently went public and provides online marketing services to small businesses in their local communities with an army of sales reps knocking on restaurant and insurance office doors. Yet a little further south on the 5 we find Boost Mobile and Solarflare Communications. Boost (jobs, FB) is an MVNO (wow, that’s a once-hot acronym I have used in a while) on the Sprint network. Solarflare (jobs, blog) is a smaller company with gigabit Ethernet component and adaptor level products. We take Bake Parkway out a few miles we visit Western Digital Corporation. WD (jobs, ticker) is one of the global giants in manufacturing disk drives with a great reputation as an employer. Next we have more than a 30 minute drive southwest on surface streets to QLogic (jobs, ticker). They complete directly with Emulex with their line of high speed network and bus adaptors on using various protocols. And to wrap up the tour of OC, we go south a few miles on the 73 again to drive by the tiny local office of TeleDyne Dalsa. Through acquisitions of Dalsa, preceded by Coreco, preceded by Imaging Technology, Inc, this company is the most recent incarnation of the company that brought me from Boston to Cali.

Top Executive-Search-Los Angeles  - Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 4 of 4)Executive Search Jobs SoCal Industries And finally San Diego…

The next leg of the trip is almost 61 miles from Teledyne Dalsa to Cymer Inc in Rancho Bernardo. To my knowledge, Cymer (jobs, ticker) is the only manufacturer of semiconductor capital equipment (excimer laser light sources) in Southern California. A couple of well-known companies in this industry are Applied Materials and KLA Tencor (both in NorCal). Another pretty drive down the 15 freeway and west on Mira Mesa Blvd to Entropic Communications (jobs, ticker), a rapidly growing company the designs SoC solutions for home entertainment. A bit further down the road we meet companies of contrasting size; Anametrix and Qualcomm. Anametrix (jobs, blog, FB) is coming on strong with their web analytics and technology to unify and correlate business data from all possible sources into one dashboard. Qualcomm (jobs, ticker, blog) is the SoCal technology Gigantor. They are the world leader in mobile communications chipsets, and along with Broadcom is the anchor hard technology tenant in Southern California. Just a few minutes away is the very quickly expanding Active Network (mentioned in last month’s job post). Active Network (jobs, ticker, blog) just went public and serve a practically unlimited market of local sports and recreation organizations that need professional web presence.

Just a few miles south in the outskirts of La Jolla we visit Ortiva Wireless. Ortiva (jobs, LinkedIn) sells a range of solutions for optimizing mobile video to network operators. And for the big finale! A last drive 15 miles south to downtown San Diego to see the HQ of ESET, LLC (jobs, blog), makers of a suite of computer security software similar to McAfee‘s.

Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 3 of 4)

…Continuing Through the Westside

Top Executive-Search-Los Angeles  - Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 3 of 4)Executive Search Jobs SoCal Industries Click here to see where we left off in Part 2…

Take a left out of UCLA Anderson, get on the 405 South and let’s head for one of the densest clusters of tech businesses in SoCal (San Diego can also make claim). The first cluster of note is Rubicon Project, Shopzilla, Hulu, and Adconion Media Group—all near Olympic and Bundy in West LA. Hulu (jobs, blog) is certainly the biggest household name. They sprang into being in ’07 and in about a year had become the very definition of Internet TV. Shopzilla (jobs) specializes in eCommerce as a price comparison website. They’re owned by media giant Scripps out of Cincinnati. The other two companies here are more technical and B2B. Rubicon builds (jobs, blog) one of a few publisher-side platforms that exist to optimize online ad revenue for online content publishers. Demand-side platforms (optimizing for advertisers) are far more common. Adconion (jobs, blog) has built one of the world’s largest online ad networks—and most of the technology that went into it. Further west down Olympic is a cluster of three more. Rustic Canyon Partners (jobs) is one of a surprisingly small number of SoCal venture capital companies…compared to Northern California at least. eHarmony (jobs) rents space from MTV (jobs) just around the corner. No description necessary for those two. Yet further west, within walking distance of the Santa Monica pier are Clearstone Venture Partners, docstoc (jobs, blog), and Demand Media (jobs). Docstoc provides a super-wide range of useful documents for small businesses. Demand Media is parent to a bunch of focused online content brands including ehow and Livestrong. They recently went public off the money made by strategically producing content that attracts search engines and ad dollars.

Heading back east to get to the 405 and continue south, we stop by Activision (jobs). By some measures, this is now the largest independent (not Microsoft, Sony PlayStation, or Nintendo) videogames publisher. They have many hot properties, but Call of Duty is undoubtedly #1. Let’s drive by Sony Pictures in Culver City before making the big move south. Sony’s main web property is Crackle which has been terribly underutilized (given Sony’s status as one of the majors) till very recently. It looks like they’re finally trying to build it into something big. Look at this growth chart. (jobs, blog, ticker) moved from Santa Monica to Playa Vista, and we visit them next. They are one of the original big winners from the first internet boom; now a stalwart. Due east a few miles is Gorilla Nation (jobs). They’re unique in LA as far as I can tell. They represent and sell the advertising inventory for hundreds of owned and independent web properties. And just a little further south is Dynamic Digital Depth a maker of software that automatically produces video with 3D depth information from normal 2D video—a very important part of bringing 3D to the home.

Top Executive-Search-Los Angeles  - Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 3 of 4)Executive Search Jobs SoCal Industries To Infinity (ok… the South Bay) and Beyond

In a group right around LAX are International Rectifier, Internet Brands, and DirecTV. IRF (jobs, ticker) is an old school electronic components supplier that goes back to the days when packaged semiconductors were the hot new thing. Not too much hot innovation here anymore…just cranking out the products and collecting the cash. I’ll assume DirecTV needs no big explain. Internet Brands (jobs, blog) began life in ’98 as, expanded their online autos business and have moved into all the other lucrative eCommerce areas, including travel & leisure. A little further south is iRise (jobs, blog). They have an interesting niche as a rapid prototype/deployment software company that helps companies produce complex IT systems very rapidly with a well-defined process and technology.

Drive 10 minutes and we roll by PC Mall in Torrance. It’s odd that the company is known by that name, even though their MacMall property is the much more successful website. A quick Crenshaw cruise south to visit Active Storage (jobs) and their specialized storage systems for Mac-based media creation professionals. Our last stop in Los Angeles County before we cross the Orange Curtain in installment 4 is New Age Electronics in Carson—a consumer technology distribution and online retail outfit. Not the most exciting company in the area, but it’s close to where I used to live!

The exciting conclusion to our 4-part tour is upcoming. Hold your horse.


Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 2 of 4)

Three weeks ago we began a tour of the significant technology and digital media companies in Southern California. There’s a mixture of objectively significant companies, and those that are maybe just significant to me (see the criteria in the previous post). Hey it’s my blog! We covered Santa Barbara through Calabasas and now we’re moving into the dense meat of the tour. We pick up our tour on the southbound 101 freeway in our politically correct, Hollywood approved Prius, at about Reseda Blvd. For the next portion of the tour we’ll cover a little less mileage, but just as many companies…and we’ll start seeing some household names.

Next a Loop Through Pasadena

We cross the 405 and 170 freeways and the 101 becomes the 134 freeway. Take the exit toward Burbank airport and stop at Yahoo! Search Media (formerly known as Overture). They have served as the most obvious (and increasingly weaker) foil to Google’s search dominance. The page even looks like Google now. Before continuing south on the 101 (it’s actually east) we head back due south so we can see the NBC Universal west coast headquarters. Whether we jump back on the freeway or take surface streets, we get to Warner Bros within a few minutes. Continuing east, we get to Walt Disney Company even quicker. If there is a power center for West Coast, American, and world entertainment…this stretch of real estate is probably it.

I’m sure there’s something interesting between our current location in Burbank and the center of Pasadena ten miles east. But I’m not stopping for it. For those that want their finger on the pulse of up-and-coming tech companies in SoCal, Idealab is a must-Top Executive-Search-Los Angeles  - Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 2 of 4)Executive Search Jobs SoCal Industries follow. This Pasadena incubator, run by Bill Gross, has started, nurtured, and sold some of the heavyweight companies in the internet business; Picasa, CitySearch, and United Online among the best known. Head south on Fair Oaks to visit FastSoft and OpenX who are across the street from one another. FastSoft accelerates TCP/IP protocol which is the basis of internet communication… and was an early PivotPoint client. OpenX is a major force in internet ad serving technology and is moving strong into ad exchanges. Heading back to the freeway where the 134 turns into the 210, we visit Guidance Software. Another cherished PivotPoint client, these guys are maybe the purest play in the e-discovery business.

Continue east away from Old Town Pasadena to Central Desktop to get a look at their business collaboration software. They’re expanding nicely right now. We move another seven miles east (a trip some might say isn’t worth it) to get to our last Pasadena area company: Parasoft (another early PivotPoint client). These guys are stone cold geeks, and even they have social media links, so I guess that marketing channel is fully mainstream now…at least for California tech companies.

For the only time in our four-part tour, we now need to pull a U and backtrack. We’ll head back to Westside Los Angeles, get off the freeway for a while and visit a bunch of digital media companies in a substantial cluster.

Cruise Through the Westside (Part 1)

We put a solid 15 miles on the Prius, heading west then south on the 110 freeway to Downtown LA to see Oversee was a pure internet land grabber in the earliest days of the web, and made good money selling juicy domains for a profit. Now Top Executive-Search-Los Angeles  - Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 2 of 4)Executive Search Jobs SoCal Industries they’re in the performance ad game. That’s our only stop downtown, and we hit the road north on the 101 for about 6 miles, get off at Melrose and take a look at Paramount Studios. Through parent Viacom, they work closely with MTV Networks which is based further west in Santa Monica. From there we drive straight for the Hollywood sign and stop just before we get to the hills to see the HQ of j2 Global. They’re the makers of eFax online fax service in addition to other business communications technologies. Let’s head south and west along Sunset Boulevard for a few miles to check in with the West Coast HQ of Interactive Corp. It serves as the main HQ of a number of IAC’s digital media businesses. Backtrack a little to La Cienga and drive by the first company to specialize in guerilla and social media marketing that I know of: Fanscape. Back down a little south to Santa Monica Blvd we find LiveNation a major player in online ticketing, especially for concerts. Nearby on Wilshire is RealD, one of the major brand 3D formats for movies along with Disney and IMAX. Head east on Wilshire for a few blocks to pass by Break Media, one of the premiere digital media properties, focused on entertainment for the young male demo. Another few blocks and we hit Spark Networks, runner of JDate and various other specialty dating sites. A little further still, and there is Total Immersion—a leader in augmented reality. Basically, they author really cool software used for all kinds of interactive amusement and advertising purposes.

We’ve made a good start, but there’s still plenty of ground to cover on the Westside. On our way back west toward the Pacific, we’ll take note of two companies based in Century City. Fox Entertainment and GRP Partners are both located on Avenue of the Stars. Mark Suster of GRP authors one of the best VC blogs in Southern California. Head towards UCLA and make two more sightings before taking a break. Boingo Wireless operates a large chain Wi-Fi hotspots and was one of our local companies that celebrated the gradually loosening grip of the Great Recession by completing an IPO earlier this year. This part of the tour finishes at the UCLA Anderson School of Management: home of noted economic forecaster Ed Leamer and new Entourage star Bhagwan Chowdhry. Aside: my team crushed both their challenging classes in our MBA program!

Resumes: Make them reader-centric & creative. Please.

I’m a recruiter and I don’t take resumes too seriously.  Every bit of research available tells us that we can’t know a person without interacting, and resumes (at least for now) are decidedly NON-interactive. In tech and especially digital media industries in Southern California, resumes are starting to become an afterthought anyway. Everybody in digital media who is serious about staying there is committed to LinkedIn (useful post about that) and I rarely have to wait to see a person’s resume to get a sense of their professional experience. Nevertheless, my initial introduction of a candidate to a client company is almost always (the ‘almost’ being a significant nod to the expanding uses of social media) a resume.

As often as not, that resume is far less than it could be with just a little extra work. As a list-of-3 guy (5 max) here’s my list of ways to think while tightening up your bio:

  • What is the reader looking for?  Your mom, husband, and all your friends and family care about you. The person reading your resume cares about solving their own business problem. In time, if you land the gig, you’ll become a real person to that hiring manager…but not yet. I spend my time working with sales and marketing professionals, so this concept is important beyond the resume—understand your audience. This takes some work, but those handy computers connected to the InterTubes allow anyone who gives a…hoot…to do their homework. What is the business model? What kinds of people are hired? Any candidate worth his salt does this for the interview and you should tailor your resume also.
  • Get seriously in touch with the concept of controlling the metamessage.  What happens if you roll up to your red carpet event and hop out of your ’78 beater wearing sweats and flip flops? You’ll probably gain entry eventually, but those first words you say may not be taken too seriously.  The visual organization matters. If your pitch for yourself includes any of: creative, organized, efficient, good communicator, strategic, intelligent, etc, then the arrangement of your content matters. The actual professional experience should speak for itself? Maybe it should. Wanna argue with everybody reading your C.V.?
  • Do something a little different. Stop following every rule unless your profession is one that is strictly governed by traditions or things must be done a very specific way in your business. I play with salesters and marketers. If you’re following every single rule you’re told, you’re falling behind. Use logos, highlight certain sections. Leave the bland behind and emphasize what stuff matters more to you. Show your personality.  Of course, never leave rule #1 completely behind.

Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 1 of 4)

OK, there’s no way for me to hit all interesting SoCal companies in four posts…or even twenty, but this short series is my basic overview of the world the way I see it from myTop Executive-Search-Los Angeles  - Whirlwind Tour of SoCal Digital Media & Tech (Part 1 of 4)Executive Search Jobs SoCal Industries PivotPoint desk. Think in terms of this famous “New Yorkers’ View of the World”. My blinders are trained on digital media, tech–and increasingly cleantech–between Santa Barbara and San Diego. I’m especially interested in those that are actively growing and hiring new market-facing professionals (sales, marketing, and/or product management). I specifically do not work in aerospace. I keep getting tempted to try biotech…but my total lack of knowledge has thankfully held me back. There is a LOT going on in SoCal; we rank at least top 5 nationally in just about any ranking of tech, media, cleantech, VC, entrepreneurship, or anything that measures how much new business stuff is happening. There are regions, areas, and neighborhoods where businesses cluster. This tour is for the vast majority of us who have spent most of their time head down doing their job well and haven’t tried to understand what’s going on nearby, 10 miles up the freeway, and 50 miles “over the hill”.

The companies that make the cut, in no particular order: a) huge companies that define the region b) huge companies many have never heard of c) notable newer companies d) companies that have accelerated recently e) notable (to me) venture capital firms and lastly f) blatant plugs where friends or I have worked.

Santa Barbara Launch…
We start our high speed tour at the corner of Hollister & Coronado in Goleta at the HQ of Citrix Online—makers of GoToMeeting. This is maybe the best known tech company in the S.B. We continue south on the 101 and very quick pass by our first PivotPoint client, Occam Networks—now known as Calix. Going just a little faster than 65 mph, we get to a block of four: RingRevenue, DFJ Frontier, Rightscale, and Commission Junction. DFJ is the biggest VC in the area; RR and Rightscale are startups aggressively expanding, and CJ powers online advertising as part of Valueclick. Ten minutes further down the road is my first “who knew” company: QAD. Makers of CRM/ERP software…they’re over $200M and have been around since the 70’s. is a relatively new find for me. Somehow they’ve found a way to get people to actually pay for stuff online. Novel! After Lynda, we kick the Maserati up to a-buck-fifty so we can get to Camarillo in a few minutes. Here we get our first look at companies that operate more in assembly language than Ruby on Rails. These four semiconductor companies were the high flyers in the 80’s…but every business becomes staid eventually. CalAmp is $150M and are now in a wide range of equipment, including routers and modems. Semtech has revenue of $450M this year on huge growth. They make a variety of chip level products, and they must be making them good. Power One and Vitesse are right across the street from one another to delineate the Santa Barbara sub region. Power One has reinvented itself as a cleantech company right under my nose and has made a HUGE jump from $400M in revenue to over $1B in ’11. Vitesse makes a variety of super geeky networking gear that should never be seen outside of a too-cold room with bad fluorescent lighting. They pull in a little under $200M a year. Yes, there are some big companies up here, and we’re just getting started. We almost immediately cross over into…

The Land of 1,000 Oaks
We’ve crossed an imaginary line, but the companies haven’t changed too much. Xirrus is first. It’s a private company that makes wireless networking equipment, specifically Wi-Fi arrays that cover various service areas. Still moving at 150, Ben Kuo‘s SoCalTech is 2 minutes away on our right. To our left–Inphi is across the freeway. If we wanted to stop, stretch our legs and casually engage in some high-speed analog circuit design for broadband network applications…this is where we’d do it. Pass, for now.

Slow the Maserati down to 140 or we’ll blow right by Valueclick and Move, Inc. who can peep in each other’s windows—but I wouldn’t approve. Valueclick is one of the heavyweights in online advertising technology to the tune of $450M and Move runs among other real estate web properties and is a $200M business in total. Videogame publisher THQ is just a few seconds away. They’ll always have a place in my heart for providing a great assignment for our final MBA project at UCLA Anderson. Ixia is building rack networking gear nearby, jumping from $170M to $270M in revenue year to year. What recession?

Continuing, we find Avanquest, a global packaged software publisher/distributor. Exit, turn north on Topanga Canyon and roll by ReachLocal, who completed their IPO last year. They’re in the practically infinite space of selling online marketing services to small and medium business (SMB). They field an army of sales reps that knock on doors and get the local restaurant to hit the ‘net with their advertising. Further up Topanga, MRV and its spinoff Source Photonics are close enough to spy on each other as they design and sell optoelectronics gear. After DataDirect Networks (high-performance & cloud storage) we pull a U and head back to the Ventura Freeway and continue south.

Next Bat-Post, we trade in the Maserati for a Prius and cruise through Tinseltown taking in some different sights than the usual tourist.