Indiana is home to world class tech companies big and small; companies that employ hardworking Hoosiers and remind the coasts that great technology can come from the middle ground. In the last five years alone, 12 tech companies have been acquired or gone public, creating $4.5 billion in market cap and thousands of new jobs.
But that momentum will come to a screeching halt if HJR-3 is successful.
Many in the Indiana tech community are firmly united against the passage of HJR-3. We’re opposed because it's discriminatory, unfair, unkind and anti-Hoosier values. Because the first seven articles of the Indiana Constitution's Bill of Rights make it clear that no preference shall be given, by law, to any creed, religious society or mode of worship regarding Hoosiers' pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
And we oppose HJR-3 because it will eradicate the huge strides we've made in the last decade to define Indiana as a place that welcomes — without restriction — all who would enrich our state with their talent, energy and individuality.
I can think of no other sector where diversity is more important; more celebrated than in technology. Last fall Angie’s List successfully recruited Tom Fox, a rising finance and product executive at Nokia in Chicago, to become our new CFO. Just this past Saturday, Tom and his longtime partner relocated to Indianapolis and HJR-3 is how our state welcomes them? It’s embarrassing.
Ten years ago, people laughed when we asked them to come to Indiana to help grow technology companies. We couldn't pay them enough to relocate. We watched while the best and brightest engineers, web designers, product developers and tech entrepreneurs deserted their home state to go where the action was.
But the recent success of companies like Angie's List, Angel Learning, Apparatus, Aprimo, ExactTarget, HC1.com, Interactive Intelligence and countless others, plus movements like TechPoint, Developer Town and Verge prove that Indy is worth the trip.
Together, we’re spurring innovation and creating awesome opportunities. But we can’t continue the momentum without a steady influx of new talent, fresh ideas and a culture that celebrates everyone at the table.
One of my favorite conversations in the nine years I’ve been at Angie’s List is when a VC told Bill (Oesterle) that he’d invest if he relocated the company to Boston because, “you won’t find enough smart people in Indiana.” Bill hung up.
He hung up because he knew what the rest of us know. That Hoosiers have the talent, ingenuity and intelligence to be major players in whatever they set out to do.
HJR-3 will send a global message that only a select few are welcome here. And that's not the Indiana we know. Please join us in encouraging Indiana lawmakers to invoke their Hoosier values and reject this resolution. We're smarter than this.
Statements from Indiana tech leaders:
Bill Oesterle, CEO, Angie's List: “At Angie’s List we are proud of our Indiana heritage and our Hoosier individuality, common sense and compassion. I work every day to recruit talented people from around the world to come and be a part of our company and this great state. The amendment will make my job harder.”
Aman Brar, President, Apparatus: “Apparatus is proud to be part of the growing Hoosier technology community. To grow we must continue to retain and recruit the very best technology talent. HJR-3 is not only a distraction to more important goals but detrimental to technology growth in Indiana.”
Brad Bostic, Chairman and CEO, HC1.com: “Indiana has been steadily emerging as a hot bed of innovative, high growth companies over the past decade. It is no secret that the key to this success is all about the talented workforce that has chosen to locate in Indiana due to the favorable economic environment and the opportunity to be part of a progressive culture here in the Midwest. The data I have reviewed indicates that HJR-3 threatens to become an obstacle to this continued progress as states that have implemented similar measures have seen firms and jobs disappear in the years that follow. HJR-3 will not serve the interests of Indiana's continued economic development and I am optimistic that our state will do the right thing for our economy by voting down HJR-3.”
Douglas Karr, CEO, DK New Media: "As a conservative, a Christian, a Veteran, and an Indianapolis business owner, I am truly saddened that my representatives believe that any 'free' citizen should have to get permission from the State to enter in a contract with another consenting adult. Fifty years ago, State governments utilized this power grab to discriminate against inter-racial marriages… and now history repeats itself by attempting to discriminate against gay couples. The unintended consequences of this bill directly impact the legal rights of gay couples to deal with their health, family and possessions. Add to this the ability of the State to convict and imprison someone for a victimless crime, and this bill is truly absurd. Given our current economic challenges and the need to attract talent here in the Midwest, this bill has the opposite impact. It not only pushes the victims of this bigotry away, it pushes away other talented people who don't want to live in a State that discriminates. Please stop working on bills that overstep your authority and hurt our State's ability to compete for talent."
Taulbee Jackson, Founder + CEO, Raidious: "HJR3’s prejudice reinforces the national perception of Indiana as a provincial backwater, and makes it even harder for nationally-focused companies like Raidious to attract and retain quality clients and quality talent. HJR3 is not only detrimental to business and the image of Indiana in general, it is simply unfair and discriminatory. It does not reflect the Hoosier values that I grew up on, or those my company grew up on. Strike down this amendment, so our tech sector can get back to innovating and creating jobs.”
Jenny Vance, President, LeadJen: "It's no secret that the technology communities that are thriving in our nation have a very diverse set of talented contributors. Diversity of talent is what drives innovation. It is beyond my comprehension why our state government would choose to limit economic growth by introducing legislation that moves us backward instead of forward to a more innovative state – driven by diversity of culture, demographic, gender AND sexual preference."
Santiago Jaramillo, CEO, BlueBridge Digital: “Central Indiana is quickly becoming one of the country's premiere tech communities. As the CEO of a rapidly growing business, I oppose HJR-3 as it hinders our ability to attract top talent to our state.”