Search is on for Philly techies

Posted: April 11, 2013

iPipeline, an insurance-software maker based in Exton, is the latest suburban tech firm to add a Center City office in hopes of luring young engineers, programmers and information technology salespeople.

The firm, which employs 390 in the Philadelphia area and its U.S. and foreign offices, and hopes to add 50 more this year, has leased a suite on the 33rd floor at 1818 Market St., a 40-story building soon to be known as Beneficial Place, the new headquarters for the city's largest remaining bank.

"Downtown is where you have to be these days to hire scarce technical talent," says Paul Melchiorre, the Villanova and Drexel grad and SAP AG veteran who joined iPipeline as president in 2012.

iPipeline joins Exton construction-software maker Bentley Systems and Blue Bell cloud-mobile-device manager Fiberlink, which both added larger offices at Three Parkway (1601 Cherry St.) last year, also searching for young, city-based skilled workers.

"These kids are staying in the city. They want to work where they play," Melchiorre said. "We need to be here to make sure we continue to attract the future 'A' players. This office will be a youthful environment more akin to a Silicon Valley company, with an open floor plan, and, of course, a pool table."

The Center City focus is very different from when Melchiorre, a South Philly native, finished school and went to work in IT in the 1980s.

"We couldn't wait to get out of the city. Of course that was many years ago," he said. "Philly is changing for the better, and tech companies are realizing that. This is as good an area to build a tech company as Boston, Austin, or San Francisco."

iPipeline sales topped $60 million in 2012, up from less than $10 million in 2007. The company's investors include Radnor-based NewSpring Capital, among others.

"This is one of the biggest cities in the United States as measured by college-student population. That's the raw material we're all looking for," said John Healy, who recently left his job as chief operating officer at eBay-GSI Commerce in King of Prussia to take the same title at Monetate, a West Conshohocken software firm that helps online retailers boost online sales. Monetate plans to double its staff from the current 160 to 320 over the next year.

Despite high overall U.S. unemployment, "demand is robust for highly skilled workers in new industries, but there is a shortage of applicants," James M. Meyer, chief investment officer at Tower Bridge Advisors in West Conshohocken, told clients in a note Wednesday. He says U.S. immigration laws limiting bosses from hiring skilled foreign labor is part of the problem.


Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com, or @PhillyJoeD on Twitter.

 

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