1 Blackstone Group to big open tech office in Miami

Private equity giant Blackstone Group is opening a large tech office in Miami. The New York-based company plans to add about 215 jobs at an average salary of about $200,000.

“Miami is a vibrant market with a pipeline of top talent from best-in-class technology programs and a large technology footprint” and the new office “will enable us to diversify our talent pool and grow out technology team,” said Blackstone spokeswomen Jennifer Friedman in a statement.

On Thursday, Miami-Dade County Commissioners approved spending up to $650,000 in incentive funds over 10 years to bring the company to the area. The Miami DDA is planning a vote on a $150,000 package and the state was also involved in talks to lure Blackstone.

“Blackstone’s decision to open this office in Miami is a testament to our ability to develop, retain, and recruit high-level tech talent, as talent was the driving force in the firm’s site selection process,” said Michael A. Finney, President and CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, in a statement. Job growth for the Technology Target Industry in Miami-Dade between 2012 and 2019 was 77%, according to the Beacon Council. During the same period, the local talent of computer and related professionals increased by 34%, with more than 15 coding schools adding to the pipeline of local college and university graduates in tech-related fields, the public-private economic development agency said. FIU ranks 6th in the U.S. for computer science graduates.

Blackstone plans to find temporary space for the first 12 months or so and secure a permanent site downtown Miami site to occupy by 2022, the Miami Herald reported.

2 Maurice Ferre named Florida EY Entrepreneur of the year

Maurice  R. Ferré, chairman and CEO of INSIGHTEC, won an Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 Florida Award from EY last week.

Ferré was the former chairman and CEO of MAKO Surgical until its $1.6 billion sale in 2013. He has been CEO of the Israeli medical technology company INSIGHTEC since 2016 and e leads the company from its Miami office.

INSIGHTEC’s Exablate Neuro incisionless neurosurgery platform is approved by the FDA to  treat patients suffering from essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease who have not responded to medications, the company said in its announcement. Its device uses high intensity sound waves to ablate the brain’s thalamus, leading to a reduction in hand tremors. INSIGHTEC is already a billion-dollar company. In March, INSIGHTEC raised a Series F investment round of up to $150 million at a post-money valuation of $1.3 billion.

There other Florida winners were:

Nancy Smith | Analytic Partners, Miami, FL

Chris Gannon | Bolay Restaurant Partners, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Joey D. Batchelor | Guardian Fueling Technologies, LLC, Jacksonville, FL

Howard B. Krass | IPD Analytics, LLC, Aventura, FL

Dagan T. Kasavana | Phoenix Tower International, Boca Raton, FL

Taylor Hamilton and Jesse Tomalty | reCommerce, Deerfield Beach, FL

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 National Awards, to be announced Nov. 19. The Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner will then move on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in June 2021.

3 Magic Leap makes more executive appointments

Two months after taking the helm of Magic Leap, CEO Peggy Johnson announced four C-suite appointments.

Walter Delph is the new Chief Business Officer. Most recently he was a partner and managing director a BCG Digital Ventures, Boston Consulting Group’s corporate venture capital firm focused on innovation, product development and early-stage investing. Before that, Delph served as Chief Executive at Adly, a machine learning advertising platform, and senior vice president at News Corp.

Also named were John Doherty as Chief Financial officer; Ana Lang has been promoted to Chief Legal Officer; Jose Baltazar, formerly Magic Leap’s vice president of mission control operation, has taken on the newly created role of Senior Vice President and Chief Transformation and People Officer.

“When I joined Magic Leap, I found a diverse, high performing team that are the best at what they do, and a strong technology platform with one of the most robust IP portfolios I’ve seen for a company of this scale. As CEO, I am focused on transforming Magic Leap to capitalize on the opportunities ahead. That includes sharpening our focus and re-aligning our operations to fit the direction of the business with a focus on ROI for our customers. It was important for me to bolster our leadership team with world class talent that will help me lead this company into the future,” said Johnson in a statement

4 TheVentureCity selects 5 startups for Growth Program accelerator

TheVentureCity announced that five startups – two from the Americas and three from Europe – were selected to join its Growth Program.

“We believe every one of these companies has the potential to become a disruptor in their respective industries. It is also encouraging to see that, despite these challenging times, Latin American countries like Brazil continue to produce quality tech startups,” said Ricardo Sangion, TheVentureCity’s VP of Startup Growth of the Americas. They are:

  • PLIPAG is a fintech company focused on helping recurring revenue SMBs increase client satisfaction and retention. It offers client management and smart billing resources in one, modern platform, simplifying the way its merchants manage transactions and relationships.
  • Condofy reinvented the way that apartment residents, building managers, and service providers engage with their communities. They offer end-to-end Homeowner Association services through an intelligent and integrated platform.
  • Fridai is an A.I.-powered voice assistant made by and for gamers. Fridai automates all the repetitive and manual tasks that gamers perform in each gaming session, like setting up streams, recording video clips, and searching game guides, all through a friendly AI voice and a slick user interface.
  • Wannalisn is an ‘Edutainment’ solution that helps users finally understand the fast English of first language speakers. It allows them to learn the most common phrases, expressions, and phrasal verbs in spoken English through short clips from favorite movies and TV series.
  • Internxt is the first cloud storage service to provide users with total control, security, and privacy of their files. Unlike traditional providers, Internxt Drive features zero-knowledge encryption and client-side encryption, meaning that only the user can truly access their files.
5 New report gives lowdown on startups in the Southeast

BIP Capital released its annual “State of Startups in the Southeast” report on Wednesday, which breaks down the deals and deal sizes from each of the nine states in the Southeastern region.

Since 2015, $9.7 billion has been invested across 2,460 deals in Florida, compared to the $34.5 billion spanning 9,543 deals in the Southeast, the report said. In Florida, media startups brought in $3.3 billion in investments (Magic Leap accounted for $2.3 billion of that total number). Software as a service companies raised $1.74 billion, and Biotech/pharma raised $1.23 billion. Out of 235 unicorns, six of them are in the Southeast with two are in the Sunshine State: Fanatics, valued at $6.2 billion and based in Jacksonville, and Plantation-based Magic Leap, valued at $4.8 billion.

The report noted that Miami Angels was the most active angel fund, and Florida Funders was the most active VC fund in the state. Read the report here.

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Nancy Dahlberg
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