Local business leaders are calling for more high-paying tech jobs in Orange County, as the employment level at the region’s largest software firms has remained almost steady over the last 12 months.
Total jobs for the top 24 firms surveyed by the Business Journal was 8,355 as of July, flat compared to the previous 12-month period.
Video game maker Blizzard Entertainment—developer of such mega-hits as Diablo and World of Warcraft—in Irvine continues to lead the list with an estimated 2,700 employees in OC.
Its parent company, Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) of Santa Monica, is awaiting regulatory approval to be acquired by Microsoft Corp. in a $68.7 billion deal.
Computer behemoth IBM Corp., with headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., is the second largest local software firm with an estimated 1,200 employees in OC, unchanged from last year.
Florida-based UKG Inc., formerly known as Ultimate Software, with headquarters in Weston, Fla., and local offices in Santa Ana, was in third place with an estimated 440 employees in OC.
The highest-ranked software company with headquarters in Orange County is data analytics firm Alteryx Inc., (NYSE: AYX),with an estimated 350 people now based at of the firm’s new headquarters at the Spectrum Terrace campus alongside the San Diego (405) Freeway.
Alteryx maintained its No. 5 slot on the list.
The rankings are based on local headcount, and are calculated from numbers obtained, estimated and compiled by the Business Journal.
Companywide employment for the 24 firms rose 0.3% over last year’s count to 701,389.
As competition heats up across the country to create hubs of innovation, business leaders are being pushed to create more local tech jobs.
Orange County needs to create more high-paying positions in the tech and innovation sectors to keep up with San Diego County and other areas in California, Chapman University Economics Professor and President Emeritus Jim Doti said in June.
His team’s figures show OC job growth in advanced industries rising 10% from the first half of 2015 to the first half of 2021, while the comparable number for San Diego was 23%.
In a recent commentary in the Business Journal, OC entrepreneur and new ShiftLeft CEO Stuart McClure (see story, page 1) echoed this demand with world-renowned AI and technology expert Stephen Ibaraki.
“For long-term economic success, Orange County needs to stake its claim in the digital economy and emerging tech,” the pair wrote last month. “Competition is fierce.”
In other local company moves:
• Irvine-based micro-investing firm Acorns Grow Inc., co-founded in 2014 by Walter Cruttenden and son Jeff Cruttenden, moved up two places to No. 7 with about 210 local employees.
• Corona del Mar-based medical technology company Tebra Technologies Inc., formed from the merger of Kareo and Patient Pop of Santa Monica last year, placed No. 8 this year with 207 employees.
• Vehicle tracking company Spireon and cannabis-industry company WM Technology, both based in Irvine and with an estimated 200 staff members each, were in a three-way tie for No. 9 with Seattle-based tech real-estate marketplace Zillow.
Kantata, provider of business process software that was formed from the merger of Irvine-based Mavenlink with a U.K. company, came in at No. 18 with an estimated 150 employees in OC. It was tied with the local operations of Microsoft.