October 9, 2013

PeopleMatter Plans To Expand Internationally

Charleston Regional Business Journal

PeopleMatter CEO Nate DaPore plans to take his Charleston-based tech company international.

Although DaPore didn't elaborate on where the company would expand to, he said he expects the international growth to take place late next year. No other information is available at this time, said PeopleMatter's Communications Director Joy Capps.

PeopleMatter also plans to expand in downtown Charleston into a building adjacent to its new corporate headquarters on King Street. The software company moved from The Navy Yard at Noisette in North Charleston into its four-story headquarters at 466 King St. in March.

PeopleMatter has about 80 employees in Charleston and plans, ultimately, to employ 265 people at the new location over the next five years, after it takes over the adjacent building.

"We have a lot of great growth plans for 2014," DaPore said during Charleston County's Industry Appreciation Luncheon Tuesday.

Charleston's technology sector continues to grow. Entrepreneurs are spinning out of larger companies to create smaller ones, and Boeing's North Charleston site is bringing an influx of technology jobs into the region, DaPore said.

Blackbaud and Benefitfocus, both Charleston-based tech companies, have gone public. Nineteen Lowcountry technology companies also recently were named to the Inc. 5000 2013 Fastest-Growing Companies list.

DaPore expects to see local technology companies continue to expand regionally and internationally, as well as go public. He also anticipates more companies moving into the area.

Charleston has the opportunity to stand out as a technology hub in the United States, DaPore said. The growth of this knowledge-based economy will depend on an educated workforce, office space and startup capital for tech firms.

More capital and seed programs are crucial for startups to get their start and grow in Charleston, he said. PeopleMatter has now raised more than $47 million, the most recent injection was a $19 million investment of venture-capital financing led by Scale Venture Partners.

South Carolina traditionally has struggled to garner as much venture capital as densely urban, high-tech areas, such as Austin, Texas, Boston or Silicon Valley, but DaPore sees that slowly changing.

"There are a lot of strategic assets beyond Silicon Valley that Charleston has to offer, and it's starting to get more and more attention from the investment community," DaPore said.

In that same vein, the Charleston Digital Corridor plans to launch a seed fund to target innovative, technology-based companies, said Ernest Andrade, the corridor's executive director.

The corridor is also addressing workforce issues by offering educational courses through its second round of CODECamp, which launched last month.

The CodeCamp classes help to train coders, developers and programmers needed for the tech sector. DaPore said there needs to be more programs focused on training this workforce.

"We have to grow more software technology jobs here through degree-based programs focused around computer science, science and math," DaPore said.

The corridor also supplies office space for startups through its two Flagship co-working spaces. DaPore called on the business community to support the Digital Corridor and its space for startups to grow, as well as to create more high-end office space for tech companies to expand into Charleston from the corridor.

PeopleMatter was founded in 2009 and began in the Charleston Digital Corridor. The company has two other offices in San Francisco and Atlanta.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.