Media company welcomed to Innovation Square


Mayor Ed Braddy welcomes representatives of CurtCo Robb Media to the Gainesville community during a welcome party for CurtCo Media at the Ayers Technology Plaza, in Gainesville, Monday June 17, 2013. CurtCo Robb Media publishes the Robb Report and related luxury consumer guides for the wealthy.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Su
Published: Monday, June 17, 2013 at 9:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 17, 2013 at 9:22 p.m.

For the fourth time in less than a year, people in business, government and education gathered at the Ayers Technology Plaza on Monday afternoon to welcome another new company to Innovation Square.

CurtCo Robb Media, publisher of the Robb Report and related luxury consumer guides for the wealthy, moved into a renovated former medical office in April to take advantage of local talent as the Malibu, Calif.-based company makes a push to expand its mobile applications and other digital products.

John Anderson, senior vice president of the company's digital group, said a coordinated effort started nine months ago when Ed Poppell of Innovation Square and others arranged meetings with University of Florida journalism, business and computer engineering departments, Santa Fe College and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

"The warmth of the welcome is part of what made a huge difference to us in deciding to come here, but the other thing that was really important was we need the kinds of expertise, the innovation and the things that are in Innovation Square," he said. "A big part of what was of interest to us was the fact that there was creativity here that would be around us and we'd get to wander the halls and talk to smart people about things that may make a difference to our business in the future."

CurtCo first opened an office in Gainesville a year ago with a sales team that sells localized online advertising based on the reader's location. The office, with four employees, is under the leadership of Trae Walker, vice president and publisher of Robb Report Home & Style, a 1999 UF graduate who previously sold advertising for CurtCo out of his Gainesville home office from 2001 to 2009.

Senior vice president and group publisher David Arnold said in an interview before the reception that it was a fortuitous coincidence that Walker was in Gainesville as the company was exploring ways to expand its digital offerings.

Anderson said that the availability and cost of computer programmers is on the extreme side in the Los Angeles area and other markets they work in where programmers move quickly between job offers. CurtCo also has offices in New York City and Boston with about 100 employees total.

The hope is that they will be able to capture employees from computer engineering, and other departments, who are more likely to want to stay in a college town, he said.

Anderson said it would be impossible to forecast how many jobs they may create here, saying that will depend on ongoing negotiations with partners and how successful their efforts are.

Those efforts include providing digital content for advertisers in the high-end luxury market that have been slow to embrace new media, Anderson said.

CurtCo is also planning to expand its digital support for its Home & Style magazine, websites and mobile applications for its international editions, and website and tablet editions for advertisers and publishing partners, he said.

CurtCo officials have talked to people at Santa Fe College about developing a curriculum to train their sales staff and to UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research about surveying wealthy consumers to provide information to potential advertisers.

The reception follows similar events held in Ayers over the past year to welcome Mindtree, Mobiquity and a planned Sears Holdings information technology office to Innovation Square, the area being redeveloped between UF and downtown Gainesville.

Poppell said that a media and publishing company that is drawn to the innovation in Gainesville shows the beginning of diversity in local economic recruitment and job opportunities.

"I think you're going to see a more diverse group of companies coming in. Not just IT. Not just health," he said.

"Gainesville can be a good career opportunity, not just a good degree opportunity."

He announced during the reception that he expects another new company to announce that it is coming to Innovation Square soon.

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