The Semiconductor Industry in Southern California

Updated May 2017 – Original post from 2011 is edited with updated information in red. I find it interesting to see the original and track changes. It gives you a real sense of the motion in the industry.
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Catching up on SoCal IPOs

On Thursday September 25, 2008 our then fledgling executive search firm hit the wall that turned into the Great Recession. In week prior we had a client rescind two offers to our candidates and another put off another offer “indefinitely”. “Indefinitely” grew into forever because that company didn’t survive the downturn. I couldn’t tell you exactly what the news items were in the larger world (not good!) but that day it was clear that Southern California growth was done for some time and new plans had to be made. I tell that snippet to explain the arbitrary cutoff date that relates to this post.

In the last few weeks, Rubicon Project (Playa Vista, NYSE:RUBI, jobs) completed its IPO on the NYSE. I’ve been a fan of their business since the earliest days of PivotPoint Executive Search and so that bit of great news got me thinking about the path of SoCal business since late September 2008. One way to break down these years is in terms of public offerings… and so springs this post.

My focus has always been “tech and digital media”—an arbitrary delineation, but I figure we have to put something of a picket fence around our main interests. There are some businesses that don’t clearly fall inside or out, so we’ll consider them part of our world based on feel. For example, Green Dot (Monrovia, NYSE:GDOT, jobs) went public in our timeframe back to September 2008, but we’re going to call them “banking” and not “tech” so that’s the only mention in this space. By one quick, sloppy count, there have been about 20 IPO’s in the biotech/biopharma industries! That’s an interesting and surprising result, and so I’ve promised myself to visit those IPOs in some detail in the near future.

I’ll also mention some companies that have flirted publicly with making an offering, but haven’t yet or changed their minds: LegalZoom (Glendale, jobs), NewEgg (Whittier, jobs), Hulu (Santa Monica, jobs), Nexsan (Thousand Oaks, jobs), and Fallbrook Technologies (San Diego, jobs). Dropping the idea after a due diligence period is not unusual…these are all very good companies. Of additional note: NO Southern California cleantech (I use my own wide definition) companies have made the leap to stardom. Fallbrook fell short. Perhaps Tesla Motors may be the first, but they’ve defected to the Bay Area.

Chomping at the Bit

There wasn’t a single tech IPO in the neighborhood from September ’08 until April 2010. It was not a good environment. . So it’s easy to imagine some pent up IPO energy that needed to be released once the floodgates opened – or there was a slight ray of sunshine.

MaxLinear (Carlsbad, NYSE:MXL, jobs): Jumped into the public markets in April 2010, leading the way forward out of the downturn. Just when you thought that semiconductor companies were starting to fade into stability, a fabless house like MaxLinear jumps up. Gross proceeds were $89.6M and current market cap is $314M. Their chip designs allow for high-speed broadband reception on all sorts of devices—speeds that allow for video streaming among other applications.

ReachLocal (Woodland Hills, NASDAQ:RLOC, jobs): This stock started trading May 2010. ReachLocal is the go-to move for all those local businesses that don’t know anything about Internet marketing. Sounds like a really big list to me, and a great opportunity. The NASDAQ agrees, giving ReachLocal a recent market cap of $288M.

RealD (Beverly Hills,
NYSE:RLD
, jobs): Since their July 2010 IPO, RealD has continued to be one of the “Big 4” independent (RealD, IMAX, Dolby, Xpand) theatrical 3D formats. RealD emerges as the winner here. Recent market cap of $541M.

Building the Momentum

With the cap off the bottle, there was a mini rush to the NYSE and NASDAQ over the next year…

Inphi Corporation (Westlake Village, NYSE:IPHI , jobs): Yes, Inphi has officially moved to Santa Clara, but I continue to claim them for SoCal. They listed publicly in November of 2010 and have a recent valuation of $449M. Like MaxLinear, they can be generally described as mixed-signal (digital and analog) semiconductors. Such chips compute, convert, and store analog signals like light and sound measurements into digital signals like jpeg photos and MP3 audio files. Inphi is focused on the super-high bandwidth hardware needed at big regional data centers.

Demand Media (Santa Monica, NYSE:DMD , jobs): It’s not simple to explain what exactly Demand Media does. It requires a few more words than any other company here. They’re a domain registrar, and make money selling top-level domain cyber real estate. They’re also a very wide-ranging Internet publisher. They employ hundreds of people (we see them hiring a lot) writing specific content that gets found by search engines and they run advertising against it. Have you forgotten how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Demand’s eHow brand has your answer. Without looking to actually answer this question, I don’t believe Demand has been profitable (net income, not EBITDA) over any quarter. (I’m sure I’ll be corrected). For one thing, the dramatic demise of Lance Armstrong’s reputation has severely damaged their Livestrong.com brand. Recent market capitalization: $379M; IPO: February 2011.

Cornerstone OnDemand (Santa Monica, NASDAQ:CSOD, jobs): A big player in cloud-based software for managing human resources (Human Capital Management). Like all cloud-based/service-oriented architecture/software-as-a-service providers, Cornerstone makes it easy for their customers to pay a monthly bill, open a browser, and solve all kinds of complex business issues. Their IPO was March 2011, and current market cap is $1.9B.

Boingo Wireless (Los Angeles, NASDAQ:WIFI, jobs): Boingo supplies WiFi systems to airports, hotels, and the like. To go along with them, they provide software that runs on your computer or device to connect up. They went public in May 2011, and recent market cap is about $244M. I’ve always loved the name so they were among the first companies I ever mentioned.

Active Network (San Diego, jobs): Weird story here. Active Network went public in June 2011. A little more than two years later, they were bought out and taken private. Soon after…massive layoff, a split of the product group and what looks like a move sometime soon to Austin, TX (a town becoming a real tech player for those not paying close attention). They deliver cloud-based software to run all manner of events. Their roots were in sports leagues, running events, etc…thus the name.

A 14 Month Lull in Tech IPOs

Peregrine Semiconductor (San Diego, NASDAQ:PSMI, jobs): A third semiconductor company for our list. Their products are centered on their patented UltraCMOS®process. In short, they make stuff that runs wicked fast at low power for your smartphone or smart-whatever-device. Public since August 2012 with a current market cap of $185M give or take.

And 20 Months Later…

Rubicon Project (Playa Vista, NYSE:RUBI, jobs): And so we’ve come full circle. Rubicon went public just this month. They’re one of a few supply-side platforms (as opposed to the many demand-side platforms) that bundles internet publishing real estate in a platform that automates and optimizes the sale of associated ad space. For quite a while, I didn’t know of any other company doing this. There are others, but Rubicon is top of the heap.

And so we’re caught up. Rumors suggest that Santa Monica’s TrueCar might be the next to tackle the public markets. When I saw their first TV commercial a few months back, I knew something big was on the come. Whoever next joins this company, I’ll update this post. With luck, they’ll come faster and faster as Silicon Beach (and the other tech districts) prosper.

The Los Angeles Digital Agencies – Beyond the Majors

A while back, I published an (of course) incomplete rundown of the Southern California presence of the major advertising agencies. As expected, we got some feedback from the independents looking for a little bit of love. Here, only two years later, we offer it! This is by no means comprehensive—these are the agencies that have popped up on our radar here most often and most positively for whatever reasons. We’ll continue with others in the near future (promise!)

Blitz Interactive (jobs link, blog, Facebook): Ivan Todorov’s world class indie, launched in 2002. These guys are regular award winners, at the biggest scale. This digital-native agency has produced work across every digital platform imagined. Their client list would be just about impossible to be surpassed by a small agency: Microsoft. GE. Lexus. Visit their site to see the many others.

Fanscape (jobs link, blog, Facebook): This is the first major “word of mouth” digital agency I am aware of. Launched in 2000, Fanscape works with major brands to create and facilitate viral campaigns. Most campaigns never reach “viral” level, of course—but Fanscape helps brands get the very best of their social media campaigns and promotions across all digital media.

Briabe (jobs link): Briabe Mobile operates the America-Next™ network—a mobile display ad network, focused on multicultural communities. Their client list includes heavyweights like Microsoft and Ford Motors.

The Search Agency (jobs, blog, Facebook): If you’re in SoCal and you start looking around for a performance-based (i.e. AdWords) agency, The Search Agency will pop up everywhere you turn. This is the kind of company to help do the same with yours!

David&Goliath (jobs, Facebook): If this El Segundo creative agency produces no more good work from this point forward, their unbelievably entertaining Kia commercials have already landed them in my personal Hall of Fame.

Ignited (jobs, blog, Facebook): El Segundo has a nice collection of tech and media companies to go along with a number of agency offices. To go along with their contract across a number of NBC properties, they do a lot of great work with edgier, trendier clients including videogames.

Phenomenon (jobs): Cool agency. Nuff said.

The Designory (jobs, Facebook): The only creative agency I know of in downtown Long Beach…and a good one.

As a major media center, Los Angeles has more than our share of major creative and media agencies. This introduction to the indies is meant to be just that… an intro. We’ve learned that digital advertising agencies sit near the center of the hub of the new economy. All consumer businesses must advertise their products and services somehow. The agencies make that happen efficiently across the entire spectrum of industries. We’ll continue to shine a light on this industry which leads us to their clients and the jobs, media, and technology they create.

SoCal Tech & Digital Media: Analytics Companies

In some ways it’s more challenging than ever in Southern California recruiting. Our practice is heavily weighted in technology and digital media, with a splash of the up-and-coming cleantech industry as well. Things are moving and changing fast, and it’s a bit breathless keeping up. The surge in analytics and/or “big data” companies in the region is a great example of an industry inventing itself as we speak.

Anybody associated with a business with a significant digital storefront is familiar with web analytics. Until a couple years ago, “analytics” was practically always associated with “web”. Not so any more. Read more

Southern California Startup Accelerators: A Look at the “Top”

What is a startup accelerator? Why do they matter? Which ones are the “best” in our Southern California neighborhood? These answers are mostly subjective, but I think the attempts to answer these questions will clarify a complicated issue and hopefully serve as another valuable resource for entrepreneurs making those first decisions on how to get from idea to funded to “successful”. I’ve used a vague eyeball test to decide based on past success of portfolio companies, quantity of quality portfolio companies, services offered and how relevant they seem, and the resumes of principals at the accelerators. We’ll get to the list of 4 in a couple paragraphs… Read more

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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Meet the Los Angeles Digital Agencies

September 2013 Follow up: LA Digital Agencies – Beyond the Majors

Let’s start at the beginning.

First, by “agency” I’m referring to advertising agencies. The more knowledgeable reader will quickly note the difficulty in coming to a precise definition of what this is. Business models are changing by the microsecond, everybody’s trying to figure out how to use the mountains of data available. Creating the data is much easier than putting it to good use.

Before the InterTubes, agencies fell into two types and the bigger ones straddled: media and creative. A media agency earns their fees by selecting and place a client’s advertising throughout the various media outlets. Creative agencies design the copy, artwork, film, and audio. Online advertising has added a “digital” selection to the types of agencies, but that’s temporary and maybe already obsolete. What are you doing as an agency if you’re not doing digital? By pinging some folks in advance of this post, I saw mention of a new kind of agency for the first time: a “data” agency. I’m not sure what that is, but when a few independent people mention something new, I think it’s worth following.

The landscape of advertising agencies in Los Angeles is rich and deep. Many of us have been immersed for so long that some of our questions are along the lines of “What impact does the double digit small business advertising growth have on an agency?  Do they play in that space or are small businesses too small.” (courtesy Steve Barth) Great question. But by crowdsourcing angles for this post, I learned that most in the region need a more basic primer (including me!). If you’re going to understand the beverage industry you may as well make sure you understand the Coke & Pepsi presence first.

Worldwide advertising—online and legacy (J) is headed by four large camps: WPP, Interpublic, Omnicom, and Publicis. You can find them in the too-small graphic to the right under “Agency Companies”. Hopefully, Ad Age doesn’t mind me publishing a clip of an out-of-date 2009 copy of their Digital Family Trees infographic. Each of these groups has a wide variety of divisions and services and brands that have been acquired over the decades. They’re old, but they’re smart, so in 2012 they’ve found ways to extend their domination into worldwide digital advertising. So the scope of this blurb presents itself: taking a look at the LA presence of the big four groups… who’s here, where they are, and what work are they doing these days. Future posts will include the zillion excellent independents that call the area home

Next time this subject comes up, I’ll get more into the excellent independent agencies and answering questions like Steve’s above…

So in alphabetical order, here’s what the Big 4 are up to in the neighborhood:

Interpublic Group

Universal McCann Los Angeles (jobs link, blog): BIG media agency headquartered on Madison Ave. The company branding is “Curious Minds”. Mentioned in Mad Men (as “McCann”). Want big clients? How about Coke, Exxon, GM, Microsoft, and others?

Campbell-Ewald West Hollywood (jobs link, blog): Creative agency and one of the companies that practically invented the ad agency concept in Detroit in 1911. Chevy was an original client. They joined Interpublic in ’72 and lost the Chevy account in 2010. Sadness, I’m sure. They’ve got some cool stuff still going like Kaiser Permanente’s Thrive campaign and the USPS spots currently running.

Draft FCB Irvine (jobs, blog): “6.5 Seconds That Matter”. A creative agency sucked up into the Interpublic vortex in 2006. Clients include Boeing, Dockers, KFC, and Merck.

Initiative Los Angeles (jobs): A strong digital media agency, specializing in performance marketing. “Performance” just means nobody gets paid till someone clicks on or otherwise interacts with an ad, rather than simply viewing it.

Jack Morton West Hollywood (jobs, blog): “Experiential” agency, which I think just means that you touch stuff. Is this digital? I don’t know, but it’s part of Interpublic. Fill out form #766TY in triplicate to complain.

Omnicom Group

TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles (jobs, blog): Fresh work looks to be Gatorade, The Grammys, and Absolute. They’re also proud of their charity campaign for Zimbabwe. Their website is proof of their rep for quirky hipness. I’d be interested in getting your comments on it…

Tequila Los Angeles: Has been a division of TBWA for a while. I originally kept separate track of them, but it looks like their web presence has been engulfed by TBWA. I’m not having great luck piercing the veil of Design (capital D) with my browser.

DDB & Alma DDB Los Angeles (jobs, blog): The highest profile brands for a West Coaster in USA are Volkswagen and Clorox. I don’t recognize all the other brands they have prominently listed.

OMD Los Angeles (jobs): Well, they’re Ad Age’s “Media Agency of the Year” for 2011. Beyond that, I can’t easily see what they’re up to. I can say that a little less than a year ago there was a deluge of job postings for OMD’s LA office. They must be doing something right!

PHD Los Angeles (jobs): A media agency that’s heavy on the analytics.

Publicis Group

Saatchi & Saatchi Torrance (jobs): Here’s one of the local heavyweights. They’ve put together a very snappy digital business and are winning awards for social media now. Toyota Prius is among their work, so that puts a certain stamp on them. Their site has a fresh new look; I don’t know exactly when it changed. It’s powered by WordPress. That tells a lot about them…they’re ready to move to the new thing (when it makes sense) and not be burdened by a whole lot of baggage. Nice.

Team One El Segundo (jobs, blog): I’m pretty sure (Team One people correct this if wrong) that this advertising company was spun out of Toyota Motors after doing a ton of good work internally for the Lexus brand. Now they have diverse clients like Amex and Ritz Carlton on the roster..

Razorfish Santa Monica (jobs, blog): A digital native agency–meaning strong in analytics, platforms, and social. I have conflicting information about whether they’re still in force locally.

WPP

24/7 Real Media Los Angeles (jobs): “The Science of Digital Marketing”. 24/7 is a tech platform company that draws heavily on the other resources of WPP to integrate campaigns and optimize their digital delivery.

Ogilvy Culver City (jobs, blog): Another Mad Men-esque agency that goes waaay back. Ikea, Ford, Cisco, …. This is a well-heeled global agency.

Mindshare Santa Monica (jobs, blog): I have a difficult time getting through the website-speak to get at what they do…but it’s a digital agency.

MEC Los Angeles (jobs, blog): Ah, that’s more like it. The words “media agency” come right out for MEC. Mindshare, take note.

JWT Santa Monica (jobs, blog): Pretty cool site. Unique navigation, so it takes a minute to figure what’s going on. Can anyone readily tell if it’s built on Drupal or Joomla?

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 Local.com Corporation and Kelley Blue Book. KBB (jobs) is well-known for their used car information products. Local.com (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. Stamps.com (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 CarsDirect.com, 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.