When people talk about incubators for technology, they roll out the list of usual suspects: Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Seattle et cetera. There’s surprisingly little love for South Florida out there, which happens to be a hotbed of tech influencers today. From the father of the PC to founders of Facebook, South Florida has played a major factor in the development of the world’s technology.
This first in a series touching on those who have influenced the tech world from South Florida.
Part I: Hardware and Networks
Don Estridge: In the early 1980s, Don found himself working for IBM. He was sent to take charge of a small R&D operation in the Boca Raton office with the hopes to create something new and distinct. The goal was to get into the competitive market of small personal computers that was then being dominated by Apple II and Commodore PET. Given the ability to bypass regular IBM company restrictions at Boca Raton’s facility Don and his team went on to create the first PC computer in less than a year.
Manuel D. Medina: Whenever someone asks where the Internet is located, the question should be referred to Manuel D. Medina. In downtown Miami, Medina built the NAP (network access point) of the Americas, the first building specifically designed to be a data center. The company he founded, Terremark, was initially a commercial construction company that he pivoted to become one of the world’s leading providers of information technology services. In 2011, Verizon Communications bought Terremark in a sale valued at $1.4 billion. Terremark is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon, keeping its headquarters in Miami.
Nelson Gonzalez and Alex Aguila: Many gamers out there may not know these two developers by name, but they certainly know their product. Miami-based Gonzalez and Aguila are the brains behind Alienware—what has now become one of the leading manufacturers of high-end PCs built specifically to the specifications for video games. Anyone who has played a game on Alienware has a lot of trouble going back to a regular PC, period. Alienware was purchased by Dell in 2006, but it still retains autonomy in its designs and marketing. Today, Alienware represents the premium performance space in Dell’s consumer family of products—and now reaches 45 countries worldwide.
John Scully: While Scully didn’t make his mark within the borders of South Florida, he does call Palm Beach home. Born in the U.S. and raised around the world, Scully became the CEO of Apple in 1983 and kept the job for ten years, growing their annual sales from $800 million to $8 billion in that time. He is currently a partner at an venture capital firm he created in 1995, Scully Brothers.
Francis Suarez: While not directly involved in technology, Suarez is actively trying to influence it. As a city commissioner of Miami, Suarez is spearheading the creation of a technology enterprise zone in Miami to encourage start-up tech firms to locate themselves here.
Who’s Up Next?
The tech scene in South Florida is vibrant and growing. And while the venture capital hawks aren’t circling just yet, they will be soon. Who do you think is going to be the next game-changer in tech? Have someone to recommend for our next feature? Comment below.