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Flurry of activity in 2022 has Jax’s tech sector prepared for coming year

January 3, 2023 By Jacksonville Business Journal
PressSecurity

Originally written for Jacksonville Business Journal by James Cannon

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. –Despite strong national headwinds in the second half of the year, First Coast’s tech and entrepreneurial scene thrived in 2022.

The region saw growth for existing companies, and new ones announce their arrival. Local companies acquired and were acquired while others expanded their workforces.

Business leaders across the tech and entrepreneurial-startup sectors were pleased with their growth in 2022, while many said it outpaced their expectations.

At least 25 Jacksonville-based companied were either acquired or agreed to an acquisition in 2022, according to Crunchbase, with the most notable being Black Knight [NYSE:BKI] in May to Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange for more than $13 billion. The deal, between two data and analytics companies, is expected to close in Q2 2023.

Tech staffing powerhouse Beeline also received a large but undisclosed investment from private equity firm Stone Point Capital in May. Since that capital infusion, Beeline has been on an acquisition spree and has also partnered with another Jacksonville tech firm in NLP Logix.

But it wasn’t just the giants in their respective industries that received outside attention this year, Vizergy, Emtec, Finaxct and OnPay Solutions were either acquired or received a majority investment from a capital fund.

Reflecting on the year, many experts said it was a tale of two halves: Q1 and Q2 were an extension of the Covid-19 investment boom while the second half of the year underwent a heavy contraction due to fears over inflation and the possibility of a recession.

“The velocity the industry had a year ago in terms of investing, has dramatically slowed down now,” PS27 CEO and founder Jim Stalling said. “If you look at the larger deals, the unicorns, those have really been cut in half, maybe by two thirds.”

But as companies look for funding in 2023, local experts said venture funds and private equity will be focused on businesses that can succeed while implementing cost reduction strategies to move revenue, expenses and valuations closer in line.

“The money is still there but it is being directed in a more intelligent way than say maybe two years ago,” Tauruseer CEO and Founder Jeremy Vaughan said.

Jacksonville’s own venture fund also grew this year, with PS27 Venture’s personnel addition of its first executive director in Emmanuel Fortune. The venture fund participated in more than dozen seed round in 2022, including two as recent as early December.

But it isn’t just money moving around on the First Coast, workers and employees were also on the rise.

Most notably was the recent announcement that London-based international fintech firm Paysafe had selected Jacksonville as the location for its North American headquarters while adding more than 600 jobs with an average salary of $150,000.

Businesses that specialize in software-as-a-service to enterprise clients in the cybersecurity and staffing fields had an especially prosperous year.

In cybersecurity, Jacksonville-based OnDefend, Tauruseer and Quadrant Information Security all experienced growth, with some like OnDefend that doubled their staff size this year.

Going into 2023 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business owners face turbulent waters, but locally there are no signs the local tech and startup space is going to slow down.

By The Numbers

VyStar/Nymbus outage (May 13) – What was supposed to be a two-day outage, ended up being a nightmare ordeal for the credit union and its customers alike after a planned outage for a digital banking system’s upgrade failed. The previous year VyStar invested more than $20 million into banking software startup Nymbus for its digital solutions.

IQ Fiber turns on the lights (Aug. 21) – Jacksonville-based internet service provider IQ Fiber activated its first network of users, turning on its 10-gig capable network for customers in the San Jose Forest area of San Marco. The first phase of the network will deliver fiber-optic internet to 60,000 homes across Northeast Florida.

Beeline makes moves (October) – Jacksonville-based staffing tech giant Beeline announced the acquisition of Utmost and a partnership with Jacksonville-based NLP Logix to expand their software-as-a-service products suite.

From London to Jax (Nov. 14) – London-based fintech company Paysafe announced its plan to establish its North American headquarters in Jacksonville. The company asked for $10 million in incentives and plans to create 600 jobs with an average wage of $150,000.

 

 

OnDefend Media Contact: Lauren Verno, Lauren.verno@ondefend.com

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