Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hot Jobs Pittsburgh

Update: My wishful thinking got the best of me. Etcetera Edutainment is not located in Lawrenceville. Offices are downtown. So, you could live in Larryville and then bike to work.

I've been tracking the
economic development ideas percolating in New Brunswick. Atlantic Canada has much in common with the Rust Belt as a region that globalization left behind. One suggestion for reinvention is to go after a cluster in entertainment software. A recent announcement of Pixar landing in Vancouver, British Columbia got some blood boiling:

Of course, the national media (and I don’t particularly blame them) would be biased towards Vancouver. It’s a large and beautiful city. Of course Pixar would want to go there. Why would Pixar ever want to go to New Brunswick? For a big fat government grant. And, typically, they will throw in a quote from AIMS saying that when the grant runs out, the company will leave because there was no real reason for them to be here in the first place.

This outright crap - is a key reason why New Brunswick has stagnated for all these years. No one really believes that Pixar could ever want to be in New Brunswick. But no one ever really tried. If New Brunswick had put the same new media tax incentive program in place. If it had attracted a number of smaller players (which sets the ground for the big guys). If it had developed a world class research centre in animation at UNB. If it was turning out the top graduates in Canada in animation development, etc. etec. etc. then it is likely that Pixar would set up here.

I'm not convinced that New Brunswick can compete for a piece of this economic pie. If Pixar was looking for a stronger East Coast presence, Montreal would probably head the list in Canada. In the United States, the equivalent is Pittsburgh. Excuse the pun, but New Brunswick would be entering this game too late.

Thinking in terms of Pittsburgh economic connectivity, the analysis of Canada's entertainment software industry suggests some opportunity. Talent churn between Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Montreal would be advantageous for all four regions. Pittsburgh is particularly attractive as a low-cost alternative for entertainment technology industry site location.

Etcetera Edutainment is one of the great spillovers from Carnegie Mellon University's cutting edge Entertainment Technology Center. Located in the uber-hip Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville (stop laughing), founder and CEO Jessica Trybus tells me that Etcetera is hiring. They need top-notch "software engineers, product manager, office manager, and strong software sales talent ASAP!"

According to TECHburgher (blog of the Pittsburgh Technology Council), Jessica is a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for Upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Burgh Diaspora, this is your chance to work for a great company in the rapidly expanding industry of entertainment technology:

Pittsburgh-based Etcetera Edutainment’s new CrowdPlay® game technology debuts in prime time April 13, on UK television series The Gadget Show. The Gadget Show hosts, who explore fresh and exciting innovations during the popular weekly program, will demonstrate Etcetera’s crowd gaming system and participate in a CrowdPlay-based game.

Etcetera’s CrowdPlay is the world’s first crowd-controlled gaming system. Using CrowdPlay, people become live “joysticks” – controlling onscreen gameplay by moving left and right, and playing with or against one another to complete challenges such as “Keepie Uppie,” “Beach Ball Bonanza,” and “Andys vs. Zombies.”

The CrowdPlay technology is an offshoot of Etcetera’s line of immersive training games and simulations, often called “serious games.” Companies use Etcetera’s serious games to provide engaging, realistic environments where workers can safely and cost-effectively practice important aspects of their jobs. Etcetera’s technology game engine, Crucible, underlies CrowdPlay and the company’s “serious” manufacturing, utilities and healthcare training simulations.

"Everything we develop cross-fertilizes our other efforts. Our CrowdPlay technology augments our Crucible game engine; in turn, Crucible becomes an even richer resource for developing highly motivating and effective safety training products,” said Jess Trybus, Etcetera Edutainment Founder and CEO. “Our goal for all of our games is to create immersive, memorable experiences, whether for safety training, product training or product promotions."

Using a computer equipped with a camera, Etcetera’s highly-engaging CrowdPlay audience games are used as branding opportunities, for corporate events and product launches, or just for fun.

All viewers can see a recording of CrowdPlay games in action from The Gadget Show’s April 13th show, at CrowdPlay will also be featured at one of the UK’s leading consumer electronics events, The Gadget Show Live, held at the NEC in Birmingham April 17 – 19. UK viewers can see a taped broadcast of The Gadget Show Live, featuring CrowdPlay games, later in May, on Channel 5.

I'm often asked, "Who is hiring in Pittsburgh?" Etcetera Edutainment for one. Contact me or Jessica if you are interested in being a part of the economic renaissance.

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