Robert Cortright has built three technology firms in the past 15 years — all focused on the finance sector — and the key ingredients haven’t changed much in that time.
“The most important thing is getting talent,” he said. “And you’ve got to be somewhat close to New York City, especially when you run a financial services technology company.”
As Cortright has proven, you can do all that from New Jersey.
Like his first two businesses, his latest venture is based in and growing in the Garden State. The firm, DriveWealth LLC, recently leased nearly 8,000 square feet of office space in downtown Chatham after relocating from Morristown, a move fueled by the growth of its mobile investing platform and the doubling of its staff since 2012.
The deal is part of a robust, steady stream of leasing activity by tech firms in New Jersey this year. Experts say it’s one of the most active sectors in the state’s office market, driven by changing space needs and the growth of companies of all sizes within the industry.
Just ask Cassidy Turley, the brokerage firm that represented DriveWealth. William O’Keefe, one of the brokers in the deal, said his firm in recent months has “done transactions from as little as 1,300 square feet up to close to 100,000 square feet — and everywhere in between.”
“Some of them are smaller startups (whose) business stems off the larger tech companies, (such as) Verizon and AT&T,” said O’Keefe, a senior vice president based in Cassidy Turley’s Chatham office. “They’re ancillary to those services and they want to be next door.”
“On the larger side, you’re seeing across the board a flight to quality,” he added.
Research from Cassidy Turley shows a flurry of deals from tech firms in the first half of 2014, including a roughly 51,000-square-foot lease in Plainsboro by Systech Solutions Inc., which provides anti-counterfeiting, authentication and other services for businesses. In the Princeton area alone, the brokerage projects that new expansion requirements by tech firms will take up to 250,000 square feet by the end of 2014.
Across northern and central New Jersey, information and technology firms accounted for 25 percent of office leases completed during the second quarter, according to an analysis of deals larger than 10,000 square feet by the brokerage firm JLL. That placed the sector behind only life sciences, which had a 27 percent share, and ahead of financial services.
Stephen Jenco, JLL’s director of suburban tri-state research, noted that the industry group includes media, entertainment and electronics companies in addition to software and technology firms. Still, those involved with emerging technologies stand to become better represented among office users.