Tech titans nurture South Florida’s digital dreams
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By Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel 12:25 a.m. EDT, April 16, 2012
The names may not be familiar, but you or someone you know has probably used the technology they’ve brought into our lives: the Apple Powerbook, university Blackboard software and tele-conferencing program Go To Meeting.
John Sculley, Dan Cane and Ed Iacobucci are among a handful of technology geniuses who are making South Florida home and investing in the region’s companies, building new enterprises and nurturing other tech entrepreneurs.
“South Florida’s biggest problem has been a PR problem. But there has been an underground movement of entrepreneurship,” said Cane, inventor of the Blackboard technology.
The goal once was to make South Florida a Silicon Valley, said Jane Teague, executive director of Enterprise Development Corp. in Boca Raton. “But we’ve come to the realization that we’re not going to succeed at that. We have to figure out what our own strengths are and play to them,” she said.
Those strengths — the beach and the year-round sunshine — are drawing or keeping some of the tech industry’s brightest.
“People just want to be here,” Teague said.
South Florida has nearly 25,000 technology businesses, as of 2010, the latest figures available, says the South Florida Technology Alliance. Florida ranks fifth in technology employment, after California, Texas, New York and Virginia, according to TechAmerica Foundation’s Cyberstates report.
“They don’t need an office. They can work anywhere,” he said.
Among the technology entrepreneurs who have joined forces in South Florida:
Now, Sculley, 62, lives in Palm Beach and works as a venture capitalist, investing in young companies he expects to succeed.
He’s advising two Boca Raton entrepreneurs: John Duffy, founder of 3Cinteractive, and Dan Gittleman of Open Peak. In a recent interview, Sculley said he is at 3Cinteractive offices at least once a week. “I’ve been there to watch [Duffy] take 3C from a small company to one of the coolest companies around, not just Florida,” he said.
By the time he was 36, Duffy had made $100 million from the sale of his first tech company, Internet Billing Co., an Internet-based payment processing company.
Ten years later, he’s founder and CEO of 3Cinteractive, a Boca Raton-based mobile solutions provider and working with entrepreneurs through the Launch Pad Entrepreneurship Program at University of Miami.
3Cinteractive is expected to generate revenue of more than $40.5 million in 2012. The company employs more than 100 workers and expects to hire an additional 50 this year. Clients include Disney, Walgreens and Best Buy.
He made his mark as an entrepreneur with StorageApps, which was acquired in 2001 by Hewlett Packard Co. for $350 million in stock. The company used virtualization technology to manage storage networks.