Friday, August 29, 2008

Sacramento area's tech index declines a bit

Sacramento area's tech index declines a bit

By Darrell Smith -
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, August 29, 2008

Sacramento's tech sector is remaining resilient in the face of a struggling economy, officials say after the release of the SARTA Tech Index.

"Our region is not immune to what's being felt in markets across the country, but we're kind of holding our own," said J.D. Stack, chief executive officer of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance, a nonprofit technology incubator.

In the greater Sacramento area, the technology sector has been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economy dragged down by tightened credit and a battered housing market.

SARTA established the quarterly index in 2003. It tracks revenue, employees and equity capital raised by the nine-county Sacramento region's top 50 technology firms.

The index, initially set at 100 when it was established in 2003, was put at 263.2 in the first quarter of 2008, the latest reporting period. That's slightly down from the record mark set in the fourth quarter of 2007, when the index hit 265.51.

The results from the first quarter of 2008 provide a snapshot during a rapidly changing economy, and according to the report:

• Employment in the privately held companies in the index was flat but new capital at $11.6 million was strong.

• Big local techs like aerospace firm GenCorp, software maker Unify and telecommunications company SureWest decreased in value, down 11 percent, 10 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

• For the first time in a year, local publicly held firms largely outperformed the Dow Jones, Nasdaq and Standard and Poor's 500 indexes.

• Two companies, medical technology firm LifeWave Inc. of North Highlands and energy firm Marquiss Wind Power of Folsom, were added to the index.

Earlier delays in the revamp of the index's Web site pushed back the results' release but Stack says the numbers show that the Sacramento region's tech sector remains steady.

"We're down less than 1 percent despite everything that's going on in the general economy," Stack said. "It's not that bad."