Silicon Valley tech recovery lifts regional businesses

Reno's 3G Studios hired seven people in the last couple of months, but looks to step up the pace to 10 new hires a month.

Noble Studios in Carson City continues to see an upsurge of contracts from major technology companies.

Scott Armstrong, chief executive officer of Dibbs Inc. in Reno, fields more calls than he expected from investors who want a piece of the company's next round of financing.

Recovery of the technology sector particularly among firms involved in the mobile or social media corners of the market is beginning to ripple through northern Nevada.

Unlike the tightly woven ecosystem of technology companies in hotbeds such as Silicon Valley, northern Nevada's technology sector is largely a one-off sort of business a scattering of companies, mostly small, with more connections to California companies than among each other.

As office and industrial properties fill with new and expanding tech companies in the Silicon Valley, technology companies in northern Nevada are lifted by the rising tide.

"We're starting to see a spillover from other areas," says Michael Thomas, vice president of business development for Noble Studios.

The Carson City company provides Web development and other creative services for tech firms such as Autodesk and Meltwater Group in addition to a long list of regional clients, and Thomas says inquiries from the 408 area code around San Jose are increasing.

"They are definitely calling on us more, and we're adding talent," he says, noting that more than half of Noble Studios' business comes from California.

Thomas says Noble Studios has added five people to its staff within the last six months, boosting its total employment to 20.

James Kosta, chief executive officer of 3G Studios, says the company is succeeding as it changed direction last year away from development of video games for consoles such as Xbox and toward creation of games for mobile devices and social-media networks.

The company recently moved into offices in the Jones Vargas building at 300 E. Second St., where a staff lounge that overlooks Aces Ballpark is among the benefits that 3G dangles in front of potential new employees.

It's staffing up quickly. In recent days, 3G was recruiting programmers, animators and designers.

The recession, Kosta says, has created a hungry cadre of young, tech-savvy workers.

"They've had two years of work in fast food, and now they are grateful to have a job," he says. "What you get for your money today is a much higher-value employee."

In the Dibbs Inc. office on the other side of downtown, Armstrong says a $1.6 million financing for the company is drawing strong interest.

"We're getting attention from venture capitalists right now," he says. "This is probably the most exciting time since the days. There's an incredible energy. Everyone is buzzing right now."

Dibbs, which runs local entertainment calendars that run on mobile devices, is preparing to move into other markets after launches in Reno and San Francisco.

That story, Armstrong says, is sufficiently compelling to help the company recruit top talent from big players in the mobile-community industry.

The northern Nevada lifestyle also provides a recruiting edge as companies compete for in-demand talent such as developers of applications for mobile devices, says Thomas.

The ease of getting around the region as well as convenient access to outdoor recreation helps draw some technology professionals who are weary of Bay Area hassles, he says.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment