Ten of Southern California's Top Software Companies

Southern California is often criticized for having too many startups which only revolve around brand, celebrity, ecommerce, and marketing, and not enough of the traditional, software-and-algorithm intensive startups you'd expect to see in Silicon Valley.

However, that's not always the case. We've identified ten of the more technically interesting companies working on software in Southern California, using our unscientific, unproven, and undoubtedly biased informal polling. (We've undoubtedly missed many others, or maybe you disagree with our list--please comment!):

1. Factual

Headed by famed Google AdSense creator Gil Elbaz, Factual has created a massive, cloud-based repository for data on geolocated businesses and points of interests; products; and much more, plus an extensive set of application programming interfaces (APIs) to get to all that data, in real time--which it describes as "mind-blowingly hard data problems". The firm's software is now being used in a very wide range of both web and mobile services, from Foursquare, to Yelp, to LivingSocial.

2. CallFire

Need to add voice or SMS to your application? That's what CallFire does, through an extensive set of APIs it makes available to other developers to incorporate into their own apps. The company handles all the infrastructure required for text messaging, voice broadcast, and much more all in a cloud based service.

3. Inktank

Inktank, a spinout of hosting provider Dreamhost, is behind the Ceph, open source, distributed storage project, which is being used to power the move companies to the world of cloud infrastructure. The company's software is being included in the Linux kernel.

4. Convertro

Are you trying to track and figure out what makes your customers tick? Convertro is applying a heavy dose of algorithms and analytics to help companies track and optimize their marketing effort. Jeffrey Zwelling, the firm's CEO, has been involved in technology heavyweights Avamar (sold to EMC), and EchoSign (sold to Adobe)--among others.

5. Predixion Software - There's a big revolution happening in the world of big data, using business intelligence and predictive analytics, and Predixion applying that to such verticals as healthcare. The firm's CTO, Jamie MacLennan, directed the development of Microsoft's SQL Server Analysis Services, pioneering Microsoft's work in implementing Microsoft SQL Server's data mining capability.

6. Retention Science

How do you use Big Data to profile your customers, and maximize revenue for your business? Retention Science is figuring that out, by pulling together massive amounts of information from multiple sources and intelligently pricing and engaging customers based on that data.

7. SendGrid

SendGrid has seen massive growth and adoption, as thousands of web developers have discovered that the company--which has major operations (and its technical founders) in Anaheim--does a much better job of handling transactional email delivery than they ever could.

8. Gravity

Gravity--headed by former MySpace COO Amit Kapur--developer software which presents, in real time, personalized web pages based on what consumers are most interested in. The company has a stellar set of expert advisors in machine learning, computational linguistics, artificial intelligence--in addition to a highly technical team--which it is applying to the problem.

9. Rightscale

Need to manage your cloud infrastructure? Trying to configure, automate, and monitor your app in the private, public, or in a hybrid cloud? Rightscale is developing the software to do all of that, allowing companies to rapidly scale their cloud deployments, with many well known customers relying on the company's tools.

10. DataPop

Founded by a number of former executives of, DataPop is using algorithms to drive automated, paid search advertising. The firm's software helps advertisers target people looking for specific brands and details of a products. Jason Lehmbeck, the firm's co-founder and CEO, was VP Emerging Ad Products at Overture/Yahoo; co-founder John Zimmerman was Managing Director of Commercial API Programs at Yahoo, in addition to running engineering teams at Overture Services and

What makes these companies interesting to the technical crowd? Tony Karrer, who runs the LA CTO Forum, says "New platforms are very interesting to CTOs. They change what we build and how we build it." David Subar, who is CTO at Break Media, said "It's not as well known here, but I would look at all the big data stuff," pointing out that there are quite a number of firms in the big data area in the region.

Photo courtesy Bigstock

posted on Friday, November 16, 2012

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