Two closely connected Conway-based tech companies announced plans Thursday to move their corporate headquarters to downtown Little Rock in the fall, adding heft to the city’s fast-growing Creative Corridor.
The companies, privately-held PrivacyStar and publicly-traded Inuvo Inc., made their joint announcements at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, where city and chamber officials welcomed executives and employees from both companies to the city’s River Market district.
Both companies plan to relocate their current Conway headquarters to the Museum Center in the River Market area in the fall, with future plans to expand their current labor pool of about 100 workers over the next 12 months, Inuvo and PrivacyStar officials said.
That will put both companies only blocks away from the current corporate headquarters of Acxiom Corp., where Inuvo and PrivacyStar’s executive teams and current workforce have strong and deep ties to the data marketing giant.
PrivacyStar CEO and Inuvo board director Charles Morgan is the former longtime chairman and CEO of Acxiom, while Inuvo’s CEO Rich Howe was the former chief marketing officer at the Arkansas-based technology and data giant for several years.
Both Morgan and Howe explained that the move to Little Rock made sense in terms of necessary amenities, space and location for both of the fast-growing business partners.
“We love Conway, but downtown Little Rock is where I actually live,” Morgan jokingly told the overflow crowd. “I know from personal experience that it’s a fabulous place to work and live.”
Morgan said both companies have experienced tremendous growth over the past 12 months, and would likely add another 20-30 jobs over the same period in the future. Both companies, which pay average annual salaries between $80,000 and $90,000, are also actively seeking new employees to meet their needs for software development analytics and customer management, officials said.
“We are very appreciative of all of the support and assistance both of these companies have gotten from the state of Arkansas, and it has certainly paid off in terms of jobs,” Morgan said.
PrivacyStar, which has about 50 employees, operates a smartphone application for Android and iPhone that help users of the services identify and block unwanted calls.
Howe said Inuvo’s move to Little Rock is in line with the company’s recent growth in employees (50-60) and revenues, which he said jumped more than 36% year-over-year to end fiscal 2014 at nearly $50 million. He and Morgan said when the company moved to Conway from New York City in 2013, it had no employees and was nearly bankrupt.
“Seems like a long time ago, but we made a decision to move our small Internet company from New York to Arkansas,” Howe reminisced. “When I think about it, and my management team thinks about it, in hindsight we must have been crazy to even contemplate such a change in our business.”
However, Howe said the move to Arkansas has been the best management decision for the fast-growing tech firm, which bills itself as an Internet marketing company that delivers targeted advertisements to websites and desktop and mobile apps. Howe said the company’s current payroll includes more than 40 employees.
Mayor Mark Stodola thanked both Morgan and Howe for moving the Conway-based tech companies to the downtown tech corridor. He said he is excited about the events in the startup and tech community that have taken place over the past 12 months, including the location of the $22 million Little Rock Technology Park that city voters approved more than three years ago.
“Little Rock is becoming a cool place to be,” Stodola said. “We have a great experiment going on here. Once people come, they realize it’s a great place.”