Monetate moves HQ to NYC

Monetate, one of the Philadelphia area's best-established software start-ups, is moving its headquarters to New York.

The firm, which employs more than 150 software developers and sales, marketing and office staff, including 100 at its West Conshohocken office and others in Palo Alto, Calif., and London, wants to be "closer to its customers," chief executive Lucinda Duncalfe told me.

Monetate retailer clients include J.Crew, Fullbeauty Brands, Brooks Brothers, Lacoste, Rebecca Minkoff, Tommy Hilfiger, and more than 25 other New York-based brands, Duncalfe said. The North Face and West Chester-based QVC are also Monetate clients. 

Monetate's software staff will stay in Pennsylvania, which Duncalfe and other local CEOs say is a less competitive (and therefore more stable) market for engineering talent than New York City or California, where recruiters are constantly luring managers and developers to work for rivals. 

The firm, which builds "personalization software" that enables Web and mobile sales sites to offer different products to different customers based on "unique" customer data, has raised $47 million from Philadelphia-based First Round Capital and other investors since 2011, according to SEC filings. The company says it "services roughly 10 billion page views a month."

First Round partner Josh Kopelman, who is also chairman of the board that controls the Inquirer, Daily News and, has cited Monetate as an example of the kind of software companies area investors hope would grow in Philadelphia. 

"It's not a light decision" to move the company headquarters, says another Philadelphia tech booster, Bob Moul, CEO of Cloudamize and a former head of Philly Startup Leaders.

For a company that needs to keep top executives in close contact with clients, it can make sense to move to managers to where they are located, said Moul, who is also past CEO at Berwyn-based Dell Boomi.

At the same time, Monetate's decision to keep its engineers in West Conshohocken, a few miles by SEPTA or the Schuylkill Expressway from Center City and the city's main airport and Amtrak station, underlines the Philadelphia area's advantage as a software center: "There's a vicious battle for tech talent. Here, we don't have the same amount of turnover" or the added expense that constant recruitment requires, Moul added.

Duncalfe said she will keep her primary residence on the Main Line, close to her children, and commute to New York. The company is recruiting additional executives to boost the team, she added.