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This year's Tech 50 firms are growing so fast it's scary

Friday, October 12, 2001

By Stephanie Franken, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Skittish investors, wary customers and radical cost-cutting measures have deflated spirits among a number of local technology companies in recent months.

So last night's Fifth Annual Tech 50 awards, an upbeat event held by the Pittsburgh Technology Council to honor the region's 50 fastest-growing technology-oriented companies, couldn't have come at a better time.

Dubbed the Monsters of Technology and held at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, the awards show offered evidence that a number of high-tech firms are surviving -- and even thriving -- in a dramatically altered marketplace.

Tech 50 newcomer SDI Technologies, for example, debuted at the top of the list in the category that ranked the fastest-growing companies with annual gross revenue between $1 million and $5 million. Over the past three years, which was the period the tech council measured to determine the Tech 50 winners, SDI's revenue soared 14,736 percent.

And FFWD -- for FastForward -- lived up to its name with revenue growth of 14,858 percent, ranking it first among companies in the $5 million-to-$10 million revenue range. It ranked third last year in the $1 million-to-$5 million category, when it was named eToll Inc.

In the midsize category, firms with revenue ranging from $25 million to $100 million, FreeMarkets Inc. held on to its No. 1 spot with 967 percent growth.

While a number of firms made repeat appearances this year, the Tech 50 list had a large number of newcomers. In the smallest category, for instance, all but two companies were showing up for the first time.

There also was a new category this year, called Rising Stars. It highlighted 10 fledgling firms that are developing promising technologies -- firms that regional leaders hope will continue to grow and spawn new job opportunities here much like the more established companies on this and past years' Tech 50 lists.

* Biography and category leader shown first, followed by top nine performers by company, headquarters, revenue growth 1998-2000

$1 million to $5 million gross revenue

SDI Technologies

U.S. headquarters: Robinson; Founded: 1998; Employees: 5; Revenue growth: 14,736%; Chief executive: Arshad Sayyad; What it does: Specializes in e-commerce and enterprise services for Fortune 100 companies.

Virtual Communications Inc., Monroeville, 5,586%

TurningPoint Systems Inc., South Side, 1,032%

Threshold Technologies Inc., Canonsburg, 885%

CommerSel Studios Inc., Shadyside, 573%

Generation Technologies Inc., Monroeville, 417%

Maya Viz Ltd., South Side, 398%

MediaSite Inc., Downtown, 387%

Liekar Strategic Solutions Corp., Green Tree, 277%

Immedius Inc., Uptown, 235%

$5 million to $10 million gross revenue

FFWD>> Inc.

Headquarters: Green Tree; Founded: 1999; Employees: 100; Revenue growth: 14,858%; Chief executive: Sergio Radovcic; What it does: Helps companies grow revenue and establish an online identity through technology and marketing.

Summa Technologies Inc., Downtown, 564%

Software Specialists Inc., Bradford Woods, 287%

Access Data Corp., Downtown, 251%

Neo Gen Screening LP, Bridgeville, 110%

pair Networks Inc., South Side, 82%

Information Systems Services Inc., Montour, 55%

Tech RX Inc., Coraopolis, 52%

Applied Systems Associates Inc., Murrysville, 27%

RoData Inc., Downtown, 18%

$10 million to $25 million gross revenue

Pepperweed Consulting LCC

Headquarters: Sewickley; Founded: 1997; Employees: 50; Revenue growth: 758%; Chief executive: Thomas Reinsel; What it does: Designs and implements Internet monitoring solutions.

Comtel Communications, South Hills, 680%

Premier Technologies Inc., Robinson, 111%

Atlas Software Technologies Inc., Churchill, 108%

Fisher's Specialized Pharmacy Services, Observatory Hill, 90%

LLI Technologies Inc., Downtown, 83%

Vocollect Inc., Monroeville, 78%

Allin Corp., Green Tree, 57%

Trilogic Corp., Canonsburg, 53%

Miller Information Systems, Allison Park, 51%

$25 million to $100 million gross revenue

FreeMarkets Inc.

Headquarters: Downtown; Founded: 1995; Employees: 1,059; Revenue growth: 967%; Chief executive: Glen Meakem; What it does: Online business-to-business auctions for industrial parts, raw materials, commodities and services that drive down supply costs for clients.

Stargate.net Inc., Downtown, 389%

APAR InfoTech Corp., Canonsburg, 244%

ServiceWare Technologies Inc., Oakmont, 125%

ATC Paratransit, Bethel Park, 68%

Computer Enterprises Inc., Mt. Lebanon, 47%

DynaVox Systems LLC, South Side, 46%

Ubics Inc., Canonsburg, 39%

AeroTech Inc., Blawnox, 34%

Ansys Inc., Canonsburg, 31%

$100+ million gross revenue


U.S. headquarters: Marshall; Founded: 1999; Employees: 1,400; Chief executive: Michael Parton; Revenue growth: 793 %; What it does: The UK-based company develops and installs high-performance networking products and services for the telecommunications industry.

Tollgrade Communications Inc., Cheswick, 147%

McKesson Automation, Washington's Landing at Herrs Island, 137%

Black Box Corp., Lawrence, 90%

Rapidigm Inc., Robinson, 79%

The IT Group Inc., Monroeville, 69%

Quadrivius Inc., Rochester, 37%

Hub One Logistics Ltd., Cheswick, 35%

Medrad Inc., Indianola, 34%

Oberg Industries, Freeport, 30%

Rising Stars

Axsys Technologies Inc./Fiber Automation Division, O'Hara

BillingZone LLC, Downtown

Carnegie Learning Inc., Downtown

iMeet Inc., Oakland

Jovio Inc., Downtown

Laurel Networks, Robinson

PowerLoom Corp., Downtown

Schwoo Inc., South Side

Spinnaker Networks Inc., O'Hara

Ventive, Upper St. Clair

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