After three years of cashing in on the mobile app craze, technology firm Mutual Mobile Inc. is nearing 180 employees and plans to move to an entire floor of the downtown Capitol Tower.
The company’s explosive growth and accompanying move is an indicator of the need for such technology companies to operate with floor plans that enable a collaborative approach. Mutual Mobile, which employs 130 workers in Austin, has been operating out of two houses on Rio Grande Street and a third house on West Avenue, Chief Operating Officer Tarun Nimmagadda said.
The company has subleased the 14th floor of the Capitol Tower on East Ninth Street from the Dachis Group, which took the space when it acquired Powered Inc. last year.
Mutual Mobile, which was founded in 2008, wanted to remain downtown because the area best suits its largely young staff. Also, consolidating workers to a single floor of a building provided the company with the creative culture it seeks to engender, Nimmagadda said.
“It really allows us to work collaboratively in a team-based environment,” he said.
The 20-story Capitol Tower opened in 1983. It has been undergoing a renaissance in recent years after falling on hard times in the mid-2000s.
In 2006, Detroit-based PRS Equities Ltd. teamed with New York-based Hudson Realty Capital to buy the building for an estimated $13 million as part of a $28 million two-building deal, according to Real Capital Analytics.
Renovations began early in 2007 with an estimated price tag of $10 million. Tenants have included Latinworks Marketing LLC, Prosperity Bank and Red Fly Studio Inc.
Stream Realty Partners LP Vice President Matt Frizzell said the Capitol Tower is 100 percent leased. Most of the other companies lease entire floors or several floors of the building, he said.
Mutual Mobile, which operates offices in San Francisco and India, develops infrastructure to enable businesses to operate mobile applications. The service is what officials call “the second order of business.” The company has attracted deep-pocketed enterprise customers such as Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Del Monte Foods Co. (NYSE: DLM) and Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG).
It has grown quickly without institutional investors and the accompanying expertise that typically enables nascent companies to thrive. Instead, it was initially funded through consulting services.
The company eventually developed products, but in 2009 pivoted back toward consulting when it became apparent that services related to mobile infrastructure were quickly becoming a crucial — yet underserved — space.
Although Mutual Mobile doesn’t disclose its specific financials, it’s generating a revenue run rate in “the tens of millions of dollars,” Nimmagadda has said.
The mobile market is becoming increasingly important to enterprises that frequently develop mobile applications for internal use rather than for customers. Such applications enable workers to complete tasks such as checking benefits, parking information, payroll information and inventory management, he said.
Central Texas is home to several companies developing mobile applications for businesses.
Austin-based 30 Second Software Inc. operates mobile commerce application developer Digby, which powers mobile websites for retailers such as Pennsylvania-based Lilly Pulitzer, 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. (NYSE: FLWS) and Arizona-based SkyMall Inc. In April, 30 Second Software reported to federal regulators that it received $7.7 million of a planned $8 million round of financing.
,p>Another Austin-based mobile app company, Unwired Nation Inc., sells an online tool designed to convert Web pages to most smartphone platforms.
Mutual Mobile will maintain its existing houses after the move, just in case, Nimmagadda said.
“If history is a good predictor,” he said, “we will need that space.”