Will California tech firms migrate to Boise?

zkyle@idahostatesman.comMay 29, 2013 

affinity amp, bescover, relocation, relocate,

“Prices are higher on everything (in San Francisco),” says Bescover CEO Thomas Brown. “There’s the right labor force here. And prices are attractive.”

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Micron and Hewlett-Packard have already established that Boise can be a comfortable home for big players in the technology industry.

Thomas Brown thinks Boise is an advantageous second location for his small but growing San Francisco tech company, Bescover. Moreover, Brown, who is negotiating the purchase of Boise software developer Affinity Amp, thinks more small Silicon Valley companies could follow suit.

"Boise has advantages over Silicon Valley, and HP uses that to great effect," Brown says. "I'm surprised that small enterprises haven't explored Boise more aggressively. I don't know why it isn't happening with greater frequency. I speculate that it will."

Bescover, which has seven employees, creates websites, applications for mobile devices and other marketing tools for the bed and breakfast and small-inn industry. Its products make it easy for travelers to find lodging options smaller than hotels.

Affinity Amp created a website platform for Bescover that allows innkeepers to easily submit photos and inn information that Affinity formats into professional websites that are simple to find and navigate.

Bescover's year-over-year revenue multiplied five times in the second month after releasing Affinity's website platform, Brown says.

Affinity CEO and owner Brian Sevy says Affinity will have five employees after the purchase is completed in several weeks.

Sevy founded Affinity in California in 2011 but moved part of the operation to Boise that year to cut down on costs. He officially relocated to Boise in 2012.

Operating costs are lower in Boise, he says. So is the cost of finding programmers, who tend to get snapped up in Silicon Valley by bigger companies such as Google, Facebook and Yelp - companies Brown says have lured developers away from Bescover.

"I found really great talent we could build around with much less capital," Sevy says. "Sometimes in California it doesn't matter how much money you have. There's so much competition for developers."

Jay Larsen, president of the Idaho Technology Council, says some tech companies have relocated part of their operations from California to Boise already. Among them are information technology support consultants Taos and Synoptek. Larsen says he expects more companies to find their way east.

"The more companies move to Boise, the more people will see Boise as a software center," Larsen says. "In the future, we'll see more and more companies looking to move here or put a division or a support group here."

Brown says his peers listen to his Boise plans with interest, including a CEO of another Silicon Valley business about Bescover's size.

"They are well-funded, but they struggle with recruiting," Brown says. "When I talked to them about the success we've had in Boise, he raised his eyebrows. It got his attention."

Sevy and Brown would not disclose the asking price. Brown says he plans to maintain headquarters in San Francisco, but product development will relocate to Boise. He says he's exploring moving the sales team to Boise and says a complete relocation to Idaho is possible.

Brown wouldn't mind if the tech migration to Boise waited a few years.

"I hope other companies don't (move) too quickly," he says. "I don't want it to get competitive."

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Zach Kyle: 377-6464

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