December 27, 2018 Newsletter
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Montana High Tech News

5 Trends Indicate Rosy Outlook for Montana’s Tech Sector in 2019

Missoula-based onX closed a $20.3 million growth equity investment led by Summit Partners in February. It's the largest growth equity investment in a mobile- and consumer-focused business in Montana history and will create dozens of jobs in Missoula and Bozeman. Six months later, onX hired former Amazon exec Laura Orvidas as their new CEO. Photo courtesy of onX.

By Christina Henderson and Katy Spence

2018 held a lot of exciting news for Montana tech and manufacturing companies. From record investments to acquisitions to new support for startups, Montana is poised for even more development in 2019.

Our 2018 High Tech Industries survey found that Montana companies generated nearly $1.7 billion in revenues in 2017 and reported growth at rates up to nine times faster than the statewide economy, according to the study conducted by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

The study found that Alliance members continue to grow, employing just under 6,000 Montanans and paying a median annual salary of $63,000, a five percent increase over 2016. According to the study, high-tech pays more than twice the median earning per Montana worker and represents the third highest-paying industry in Montana


Major Acquisitions Point to Future Job Growth

In September, global IT provider Cognizant acquired Advanced Technology Group (ATG) in Missoula. ATG, a Cognizant company, currently has more than 130 employees, but Tom Stergios, senior vice president strategy and corporate development for ATG in Missoula, said Montana can expect to see the company continue to add jobs in the state. Cognizant has committed to adding 25,000 employees in the US over the next 5 years and has been impressed by the strong pipeline of workforce entering ATG from the University of Montana in Missoula.

In October, digital consulting firm Perficient acquired Elixiter, a marketing technology company based in Bozeman. Elixiter’s team of about 40 employees brings expertise in the Marketo marketing automation software and will become one of more than 20 Perficient locations around the world. Elixiter founder Andrew Hull has said Perficient is dedicated to growth in Montana and the acquisition will expand opportunities for clients and employees.

Record Investments Fuel Montana’s Fastest-growing Tech Companies

Not only has venture capital investment in Montana increased significantly ($83 million in venture capital in 2017 - 10 times the amount available in 2015 - according to financial data company PitchBook), but 2018 brought a quick succession of high-profile investments for Montana high-tech firms, suggesting significant growth ahead in 2019.

In March, Next Frontier Capital in Bozeman closed its second round of funding, pooling a total of $38 million to inject into companies. The firm also opened a Missoula office in April 2018 and is looking at opportunities in Billings, Kalispell, and other Montana cities as well.

In February, Missoula-based outdoor technology company onX closed a $20.3 million funding round led by Summit Partners, a growth equity firm in California. onX opened a second office in Bozeman and now has nearly 70 employees with plans to add a few dozen more. Pitchbook named onX Montana’s most valuable venture backed company in 2018 with an estimated post-valuation of $120 million.

PFL's innovative marketing technology puts personalized packages into the hands of potential customers. Photo via PFL.
In March, Blackmore Sensors and Analytics in Bozeman raised an $18 million Series B round from BMW iVentures, Toyota AI Ventures, Millennium, and Next Frontier Capital. Blackmore will use the funding to scale production of its innovative lidar sensor used in self-driving cars. Founded in 2016, the firm has 65 employees and is among several promising ventures to emerge from the Photonics cluster supported by Montana State University in Bozeman.

In April, Livingston-based marketing technology company PFL secured a $25 million growth equity investment from Goldman Sachs. PFL opened its second headquarters in Indianapolis in March and also has teams in Bozeman and Billings. The company is building a new 55,000 square foot facility in Livingston for digital production and fulfillment. PFL has 300 employees and plans to add another 200 jobs, mostly in Montana, over the next three to five years.

Beyond investment, Montana companies received millions in grant money in 2018. Inimmune, a Missoula-based public-private partnership between the University of Montana and former GlaxoSmithKline employees, received $22.4 million in grants from the National Institute of Health this summer, most recently for researching and developing a more robust flu vaccine. Among other sources, the Big Sky Trust Fund and SBIR programs also continue to be an important fonts of funding for tech companies in Montana.

Read more

The Montana High Tech Business Alliance brought several key benefits to members this year, including:

Member News:

Next Frontier Capital invests in outdoor and hunting media company in Bozeman

Image result for meateater incDec. 14 -- Governor Steve Bullock welcomed outdoor media and lifestyle company, MeatEater, Inc. to Montana, following the company’s recent relocation to Bozeman.

Next Frontier Capital, whose mission is to aid the development of Montana technology companies, is an investor in MeatEater, Inc. MeatEater was also the recipient of a recent $40,000 film grant from the Montana Department of Commerce to feature Montana locations in their video series. This will be the first Netflix series to be shot in Montana supported by the Big Sky Film Grant.

Read more.
Montana High Tech Business Alliance, Workiva, Montana Code School: The Montana Code School says it can train Montanans for coding jobs in 12 weeks. What then? (Helena Independent Record)
Montana Chamber of Commerce, Rural broadband: Is Quality Of Life The Next Hi-Line Commodity? And Will Remote Workers Boost Montana Economies? (Havre Herald)

Upcoming Events: 

1 Million Cups Monthly Meeting - Bozeman. Jan 2 (may be rescheduled due to holiday). Meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 am at Red Tractor Pizza, Bozeman. Creating conversation around Bozeman startups, business development, and economic growth in the most entrepreneurial state in the nation (plus, coffee). For more information and application to present, visit the website.
1 Million Cups Bi-Weekly Meeting - Missoula. Jan 9. Meets the first and third Wednesday each month at 9:00 am at The Loft, Missoula. 1 Hour Free Parking across the street in the city parking garage. Start your morning with coffee and start your business with 1MC Missoula, a place to percolate your startup. Entrepreneurship runs through it. For more information visit the website or Facebook page.
Women's Ascent Retreat 2019 - Whitefish. Jan 23 – Jan 25. Ascent Retreat 2019 is for female entrepreneurs and business leaders who need consultations around start-up strategy (scaling, exiting, pitching), organizational culture development (HR, people development), personal & leadership coaching, and health and wellness coaching. Gain insights from women who have worked in esteemed positions in Nike, Patagonia, and BlogHer. In addition, connect with other women who have been in your position from starting up to CEO-ing. Learn more.
Montana Code School Full-Time Course - Missoula & Bozeman. Full-time class dates: Feb. 4, 2019 – April 26, 2019; May 20, 2019 – Aug. 9, 2019; Sept. 16, 2019 – Dece. 6, 2019, Monday-Friday, 9 am - 5 pm. Part-time class dates: April 9, 2019 – Sept. 24, 2019; Oct. 8, 2019 – April 14, 2020; Location: Missoula & Bozeman, Tuesday & Thursday for 6 months, 6pm – 9pm + 1 immersive weekend a month. Financing available. Montana Code School’s full-time immersive program gives you the skills and fundamentals you need to land a job as a full-stack Jr. Web Developer. Contact 406-219-1392 or Learn more here.
2019 Economic Outlook Seminars - Statewide. This year’s Economic Outlook eexamines the challenges of affordable housing. Seminars begin Jan. 29 and run through March 24. EOS 2019 will travel to ten cities across the state and provide a live webcast for other regions. This year, the seminar will visit Helena, Great Falls, Missoula, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Kalispell, Sidney, Miles City and Big Sky, Montana. Find registration information and the full meeting schedule on the website.
Past Newsletters: 
12/13/2018 - High Tech Companies Partner with UM; New member directory; MWTC supports GDPR compliance; ChickTech inspires girls to pursue tech careers
11/29/2018 - Photos: FIB Missoula reception; CTA celebrates 80 years; Zoot on Can-Do podcast; Volunteer with ChickTech; Last day regular price on Digital Forensics
11/15/2018 - Montana CEOs discuss K-12 computer science education; Perficient acquires Elixiter; atgSHE and onX host inclusivity event; ChickTech to host Dec event
11/06/2018 - Photos: Helena event; Experts offer Montana tech companies real estate advice; Perficient acquires Elixiter; Goodworks Ventures backs Reflex Protect
Click to view more past newsletters.

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Montana High Tech Business Alliance
1121 E Broadway St, Suite 108
Missoula, MT 59802
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