Philadelphia is one of the handful of cities where the mix of old and start-up software companies and engineering programs produces at least a
modest and growing supply
of young software developers for mobile and cloud applications and other emerging products.
"It's the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Philly, Boston, Seattle, Austin. That's about it," said Patrick Matalack, director of product at Twillow, a San Francisco-based cloud and communications company.
Matalack is an alumnus of Archbishop Carroll and Carnegie Mellon.
Matalack's short list of tech hubs raises a question for companies that have prospered elsewhere - as the Internet freed them to do - but are now in growth mode.
Take Linode, one of the earliest cloud-hosting
providers. Linode (the name mashes Linux, the programming language, with node, where paths meet) competes with industry giants led by Amazon, Rackspace,
and IBM from its office in Galloway Township near Atlantic City.
"We're considering moving toward Philly," Vincent Palochko, the firm's HR director, told me. "Our recruiting needs have beefed up over the past year."
Linode, which employs 41, may need an additional 25 people in 2014 - seasoned network engineers and senior developers right down to "eager" college students ready to sell.
Galloway, Palochko says, offers a "relaxed" suburban environment. It's an hour-plus commute from Philly. Linode offers relocation assistance and works at a collaborative culture. But Philly has
what tech hiring officers want, he said: "Excellent universities and a concentration of technically savvy people and companies. To tap into that market would be fantastic."
Why is Linode down the Shore in the first place? Because founder Chris Aker grew up in Manahawkin and wanted to come home, after developing software for a Nashville health-education firm.
Aker set up Linode back in 2003 as a remote host for other developers working in the Linux software language. After the 2008 recession pushed more companies into buying cheap remote cloud-server space to cut computing costs while adding mobile services, "the growth has exploded and this has become a mainstream technology," Palochko told me. "Now we're working around the clock to keep our products and service ahead of the curve."
The Linode idea: "Click a button - in just under a minute we have your service up and running," Palochko said. "We concentrate more on simplicity [compared with Amazon or Rackspace]. Instead of having scalable services and a complex billing model, we want the simplest service, no surprises."
Linode's 150,000 customers include Creative Commons and TheOnion.com, for example. Linode collected unwanted publicity in 2012 and again earlier this year when
hackers targeted Linode accounts used by managers of Bitcoins, the independent online currency. Linode says it has beefed up security and kept growing.