SD Software Group Looks for New Direction with Leader’s Departure
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to be a place for advocacy, networking, and education for the software industry,” says Tom Clancy, a longtime software venture investor and chairman of Software San Diego. “In the last couple of years, there’s been more attention given to analytics and data science because those areas have been very hot.”
Yet Clancy concedes the software group hasn’t done a good enough job of understanding and defining the local software industry and its needs. While interest remains high in the group’s biggest events—the annual Super Data Summit and CIO Forum—Clancy says attendance has fallen at many of Software San Diego’s events for smaller special interest groups.
Clancy says he’s asking himself, what is the software industry’s baseline in San Diego? And what’s the model be for Software San Diego?
“I’ve been surprised at how many smaller, nimble companies I’m stumbling across,” Clancy says. “My perception is that there are a lot of small companies [generating as much as $10 million a year in sales] in San Diego that are doing vibrant, interesting work. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of mid-size software companies here that are doing $10 million to $50 million in annual revenue.”
On the other hand, Clancy says San Diego’s larger software publishers and providers have traditionally been the predominant supporters of Software San Diego. So the proliferating number of Web and mobile app startups would seem to comprise a different constituency.
“What we really need are the entrepreneurs and experienced folks who are ready to roll up their sleeves” to help mentor software startups, Clancy said. The Bay Area has become the center of the IT industry, he added, because, “There’s just a lot of fundamental training that people get to become seasoned executives with networks who know how to go through the entire life cycle of a software product. If you have to learn that on venture capital’s nickel, that’s a different proposition.”
Slapin says one of the problems he’s worked to correct over the past two years was a misperception about unemployment in the region, which has been hovering around 10 percent, when there were thousands of unfilled jobs in software development. He contends the real problem has been a mismatch in skills.
In a report last year, Software San Diego estimated the number of software job openings at about 5,000. Yet many companies with openings voiced frustration over the difficulty in finding qualified applicants.
“There’s just a major shift in what’s happening in the workforce globally,” Slapin says. “Even if you’re looking at manufacturing jobs that are coming back to the U.S., they’re not the same kind of manufacturing jobs we had before. They require different skills.”
Developing better ways of serving such a tangle of different interests might seem like the kind of problem that analytics could help address, but that’s a problem for Slapin’s successor to address. In the meantime, he says, “I see so much opportunity to get excited about. I’m kind of looking forward to a new adventure.”