Same as it ever was: OC’s tech industry will continue to be affected by consolidation, a long-running theme here since coming out of the Great Recession.
A bevy of OC’s best-known publicly traded and high-growth private tech companies have been acquired or moved executive offices the last few years. That trend likely won’t change as the region has proven to be fertile ground for emerging firms, startups and burgeoning incubators to grow and expand beyond Southern California.
Esports will continue to dominate headlines in the New Year as OC has become one of the nation’s hottest hubs for professional gaming, buoyed by Kingston Technology Inc., Allied Esports International Inc. and Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
While on the topic of hubs, OC’s cybersecurity sector beckons monitoring with the recently announced sale of Cylance Inc. and CrowdStrike Inc.’s 2017 relocation to Silicon Valley. OC could benefit from the fallout if execs and engineers decide to launch their own ventures here.
If history is any guide, those startups will be based in OC.
COMPANY TO WATCH:
The Business Journal next year will get a clearer picture behind Palmer Luckey’s secretive startup, Anduril Industries Inc.
The tech wunderkind has taken to Twitter in recent months to attract recruits interested in tackling the firm’s most challenging problems.
Among them: building “innovative defense products,” such as autonomous robots, small unmanned aerial systems and virtual and augmented reality applications.
Of course, the latter is how the Long Beach native made a name for himself in OC and beyond the tech and gaming worlds.
He founded Oculus VR Inc. in Irvine, which was sold to Facebook Inc. in 2014 for $2 billion.
The sale catapulted Luckey, who owns a home in Newport Beach and a marina in Huntington Beach, to OC’s most wealthy, clocking in at 25th on this year’s Business Journal list with estimated wealth of $800 million.
Luckey has big plans for the startup as it nears a move-in date at its new 155,000-square-foot, glass-encased building at 2722 Michelson Drive, a few blocks from John Wayne Airport.
The building should comfortably accommodate several hundred employees.
PERSON TO WATCH:
J. Allen Brack
In October, Brack took the reins of Blizzard Entertainment Inc., OC’s largest and most influential software maker, with a local employment base in the thousands.
The 24-year gaming veteran who replaced longtime President Mike Morhaime is well equipped for the task; he spent half of those years at Blizzard, most recently serving as executive producer and senior vice president for “World of Warcraft,” which the company calls the largest subscription-based “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” in the world.
New challenges await: Blizzard will release its first multiplayer, action role-playing video game this year for mobile devices in another evolutionary turn for the Irvine-based publishing giant.
“Diablo Immortal,” co-developed with NetEase Inc. (Nasdaq: NTES), a Beijing-based internet technology company, will be available on Android and iOS devices.
“One thing that won’t change going forward—our deeply held commitments that are core to who we are as a company: to gameplay first, to quality in everything we do, and to listening to and partnering with our community,” Brack said in a blog post following the leadership announcement.
Morhaime, along with fellow University of California-Los Angeles alums Allen Adham and Frank Pearce, launched Silicon & Synapse, Blizzard’s predecessor in 1991. Morhaime is now an adviser to the company.