Mobiquity means to be a jobs magnet for Gainesville


Left to right, senior vice president of service delivery at Mobiquity, Andy Norman; Mayor Craig Lowe; and County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson listen to Bill Seibel, CEO/founder of Mobiquity, as he speaks about the move to Gainesville during a welcome celebration Wednesday at the Ayers Plaza in Gainesville.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.

Mobiquity founder and CEO Bill Seibel said he foresees hundreds of thousands of jobs being created in the growing field of mobile applications.

"What we want to do is bring as many of those back to the U.S. as we can and as many to Gainesville as we can," Seibel told a crowd gathered in the courtyard of Ayers Plaza to welcome the company to Gainesville.

Boston-based Mobiquity announced last month that it was expanding to Gainesville, creating 260 jobs over three years paying an average salary of $49,000.

Seibel explained that the company builds mobile applications, not the usual smartphone apps most consumers download to their personal devices, but complex solutions "that help big companies transform the way they do business."

He cited three examples of the work they have done: a program for a large restaurant chain to use iPads to take orders and payments; an iPad program that works with a sensor to create a portable ultrasound; a program for a pharmaceutical company that picks up information transmitted from a patch worn by schizophrenia patients that reports when they have taken their medication.

Since its founding two years ago, Mobiquity has about 140 clients among the Fortune 1000 largest companies and expects to have about 200 employees by the end of the month with offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Atlanta and Costa Rica. In addition to Gainesville, Seibel said they will open two more offices this year.

Mobile applications have grown from 1 percent of information technology budgets to 34 percent over a few years, he said, with 300 million people using a mobile device every day for work and 1 billion people using them for shopping.

"More people today have access to a mobile device in the world than have access to clean water or medicine," Seibel said.

While competitors are looking to places like China or India for low-cost IT work, he said it is difficult to collaborate with clients when you are 8,000 miles away across 12 time zones and speak a different language.

"Instead, we believe if we can find a city in the U.S. that has access to world-class engineering talent, and if that city is a city where the students that graduated wanted to live afterwards and work there, if that city had a startup culture, and if that city carried a cost structure that was less than a Boston or a New York or a San Francisco, and if that city could put all that together and welcome us the way you have to help us get started here then we could drive more value to our clients that way and we could bring those jobs back to the U.S. and that's why we're here in Gainesville."

Gainesville is becoming a destination for companies that are bringing information technology back to the U.S. because of the access to computer engineering graduates at the University of Florida and the low cost of doing business compared to the kind of big-city tech hubs Seibel mentioned.

India-based Mindtree Limited opened its first U.S. development center in Ayers Plaza last year and has hired about 80 of an expected 400 people while Sears Holdings announced it would open an IT office in Gainesville in the fall. SumTotal Systems moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley in 2010 after acquiring a local company and has grown from 40 to more than 200 employees in Gainesville and expects to hire 40 to 50 more by the end of the year.

Scott Staples, president of the Americas for Mindtree, recommended that Mobiquity give Gainesville and the University of Florida a look.

Mobiquity has already hired five people for its Gainesville office to open June 3, including three UF graduates. It will start with an office at 237 SW Seventh Terrace, in the block southeast of the UF Innovation Hub.

Cammy Abernathy, dean of the UF College of Engineering, said Mobiquity will provide opportunities for graduates to find work and for the college to collaborate on research projects.

"We believe it is our mission to assist the development of high-tech industry in the state in exactly the same way that IFAS (the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) for generations has assisted agriculture in the state," she said.

Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe and Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson welcomed Mobiquity in remarks.

"Word is certainly spreading that Gainesville is the right place for businesses of all kinds to locate and expand," Lowe said.

John Carlson, chairman of the Council for Economic Outreach, said that with the 260 jobs the council will surpass its five-year goal of helping recruit 1,200 new jobs to the community by the end of 2015.

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