A conversation with Ted Thien; VP and General Manager of Tyler Technologies

Feb 12th, 2019

Describe what it was like when Versatrans was acquired by Tyler? What was your role in the acquisition? 

When you look at other technology acquisitions in the Capital District in the last decade, you won't find a better success story. It has been more than 10 years since Versatrans became part of Tyler. Since then, our client base has more than doubled, revenues have tripled, and the staff size has grown from 60 to 130 with employee attrition rates remaining in the single digits. And, nearly all of the staffing growth has occurred in our Latham office. We recently acquired, and are almost done renovating, a 43,000-square-foot building in Latham to accommodate our current and future growth. The success of Tyler’s Versatrans acquisition can be attributed to two things: Tyler's acquisition model and the cultural fit between the two companies. Tyler strategically acquires companies who are leaders in their space. Versatrans was the leader in K-12 transportation software in 2008 and we are still the leaders today. We still have the best technology, largest client base with a 95 percent client retention rate, and the highest client satisfaction ratings. The cultural fit between Tyler and Versatrans was excellent from the start and continues to this day. Both organizations have always been focused on caring for our employees and our clients. When Versatrans became part of Tyler, I was vice president of Sales and Marketing. In 2013, I became vice president and general manager of the product group within Tyler. I was part of the due diligence team which helped determine how Versatrans would integrate within Tyler.


Describe the culture at Tyler? Do you have any fond memories?

Everyone at Tyler is pretty humble and great to work with. A few years ago, I spent a few weeks working on a project in our Plano, Texas, office. That office has experienced explosive growth and has a parking issue as a result. One of the senior executives was late to a meeting because he couldn't find anywhere to park. Another consultant who was also working on the project suggested that the Tyler executives have their own parking spaces to which the Tyler executive responded, "Why would we do that? That’s not who we are." 

 

Are there any new software developments?

There are two products that we are very excited about. A few years ago, Tyler released a web-based version of our routing software called Traversa, which is leading the market in school routing software. Most software takes three to five years to mature to the point where it is truly valuable. This year, 70 percent of the school districts implementing Traversa are switching from a competing software product. We released a tablet specifically designed for school bus drivers called Tyler Drive. It is a combination of purpose-built hardware and Tyler's own app which includes modules for navigation, messaging, ridership, time keeping, and compliance. As part of our commitment to the Capital District, we have partnered with Saratoga Springs School District for the last year to help us refine the product and field test updates. The Saratoga team has been great to work with and very dedicated to helping make Tyler Drive a vital part of getting our most important resource -- your children -- safely to and from school each day.


What is the software scene today versus a decade ago?

It is hard to say, as I haven't been as plugged into the local startup scene for a few years. In 2011-2012, I did some work with a few groups who were getting their start at the Center of Gravity in Troy, New York, but my general manager duties took me away from that and have kept me traveling around the country for the last six years. One of the things that I have noticed is that it is still difficult to raise money for software startups in the Capital District compared to other parts of the country. Last year, I attended an event at the 1871 (Chicago's Technology & Entrepreneurship Center) and was impressed with the level of activity and buzz. When I was talking with startups at 1871, access to seed money was not the common issue. At the Tech Loop launch, I was pleased to see lots of new companies and even talked to a few new "founders" who were pitching their companies to me after the launch.


What was your motivations to become a first supporter of Tech Loop?

There is a growing gap between open software positions and qualified candidates, with open jobs outpacing qualified candidates. This gap is not just in the Capital District but all across the nation. As I have traveled around the country, I have often thought that it might be easier to set up operations in other parts of the country, but the negatives for doing that -- insanely expensive housing and heavy traffic, for example -- far outpace the benefits of trying to attract people to the area. I moved to the Capital District 30 years ago for a job and for the quality of life, so why can't others do the same? Solving that problem isn't something that Tyler can do alone. Software companies in the area must begin to work together to market the region to the rest of the northeast and the rest of the country. We can do that by combining our resources to show what a vibrant and active community of software companies we have to complement the fantastic quality of life we enjoy the in the Capital District.

 

What is your advice to future entrepreneurs?

It’s simple: solve a problem that needs solving for which people or businesses are willing to pay for the solution. And, do that better than anyone else. Lots of software has been developed which doesn't solve a problem or which is only marginally better than the competition. You also need to have great team. You can't start a successful business and grow it by yourself. You don't necessarily need a lot of people, but you do at least need a small dedicated and diverse team to have any significant amount of success.

Latest news
  • Indeed: Even non-tech companies are hiring more tech talent

    Dive Brief: The demand for tech jobs in non-tech industries is rising, a report from Indeed found. Tech-focused companies are still hiring plenty of tech workers, the data showed, but an increasing share of jobs at high-tech companies are going to workers in marketing, sales and other areas. Indeed described tech occupations as jobs involving "development or direct application of software, computers, or other information technology tools." Non-tech industries like finance, retail and energy have seen rapid growth in these type of workers. Software developer, a combination of two sub-occupations, applications and systems software, is currently the top in-demand tech job. Software developers account for 27% of all tech jobs, followed by broad computer occupations (including web admin and software quality assurance engineer), computer support specialists, information systems managers, information research scientists and programmers.

    Jul 30th, 2019 via https://5help.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/219544088-Creating-a-login-page-or-link

  • Data Says Demand for Tech Talent Continues

    An analysis of available data sets by CompTIA found that the U.S. technology sector employment continues to increase. In the first six months of 2019, more than 56,000 jobs were created for technology professionals, with another 13,500 jobs created in the month of June alone. This information comes from an examination of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employment Situation” report. Compared to last years’ report, so far this year an additional 6,700 jobs have been created as opposed to the first six months of 2018. “The mid-year tech employment report card shows many positives, reflecting the broad-based employer demand for tech talent,” says Tim Herbert, Executive Vice President for Research and Market Intelligence at CompTIA. “Businesses continue to make progress in adopting a range of emerging technologies, with hiring following suit.” Read More: https://mytechdecisions.com/compliance/data-says-demand-for-tech-talent-continues/

    Jul 12th, 2019 via https://mytechdecisions.com/compliance/data-says-demand-for-tech-talent-continues/

  • Alaant Hiring Index - Spring 2019

    After Strong Start to 2019, Hiring to Slow Amid Recruiting Challenges, According to Capital Region Employers Optimism remains high for future job growth, even as companies temper hiring expectations through the end of this year. Albany, NY – Hiring was robust in the first half of the year, and optimism over the long term remains high, but Capital Region employers are scaling back expectations for the second half of 2019 amid continued challenges in recruiting employees, according to the Spring 2019 Alaant Hiring Index released today. The index is compiled by Alaant Workforce Solutions, the Capital Region’s leading professional workforce services firm.

    Jun 19th, 2019 via https://www.alaant.com/blog-news/press-release-alaant-hiring-index-spring-2019

  • Coding stories to get you through hump day

    Come one come all and gather around the campfire. You’ve made it through that dreaded Monday, cruised through Tuesday on steam and now you’ve hit the Wednesday hump. Today, we’d like to help you get through it all with some coding horror stories. Share these with your colleagues to make their day and help them realize that a missing punctuation isn’t all that bad

    Jun 13th, 2019

  • CEO Survey Shows More Jobs For Upstate College Graduates

    Higher pay and rapid advancement retain talent in Upstate NY communities Upstate, New York, May 15, 2019 — The 3rd annual Upstate CEO Report, commissioned by Upstate Venture Connect, shows that fast-growing companies across our region have average salaries that are up to 60% higher than the average salary in a typical upstate metro area. “Scalable companies targeting national and global customers are distributed across our region,” stated UVC CEO Nasir Asli. “They don’t often show up on traditional economic development metrics, but clearly have an outsized impact on our communities.” Scalable companies are often in the newer industries and building products for national/global customers. Survey respondents in this category plan to hire 6-7 entry level people on average in 2019 and two thirds of those positions require a college degree.

    Jun 3rd, 2019 via https://uvc.org/ceo-survey-shows-more-jobs-for-upstate-college-graduates/

Latest blog posts
  • Moving to a big city? Stay in the 518...

    “It now costs $350,000 a year to live a middle-class lifestyle in a big city -- here’s a sad breakdown of why”. This recent post from CNBC breaks down the truth behind those large salaries that attract so many people to these large cities. Although “less than 5% of households earn $350,000 or more a year” that amount of money will go quickly when you’re living in an expensive city like NYC for example.

    Sep 16th, 2019

  • The Forth DevFest Conference in the Region

    The Capital Region Google Developer Group DevFest conference is back is back for its fourth year! This conference targets serving the local and regional software engineer, developer, architect, product manager, and student community. Topics include: mobile, web apps, AR/VR, IoT, machine learning and cloud computing.

    Sep 9th, 2019

  • Agile Software Development 101

    Google Agile Software Development or just Agile and you will be flooded with information from coaching Agile teams to Agile Project Management for Dummies. So what exactly is Agile development? Agile is the ability to respond to changes and succeed in an ever changing situation.

    Aug 26th, 2019

  • Flutter vs React Native

    As more and more companies and people embrace modern technology as a norm or even necessity to they daily success, the demand for mobile cross-platform mobile application continues to grow. In order to stay ahead of the curve of leading-edge technology, many look to development frameworks for quick turnaround times for their applications. Developers also look here to make their development process easy and efficient.

    Aug 19th, 2019 via https://www.thedroidsonroids.com/blog/flutter-vs-react-native-what-to-choose-in-2019

  • Is computer science the right major for you?

    A job filled with opportunities, a decent salary, a constant flow of new information, and a plethora of options. That is the life you’ll live after studying computer science and following the road down the computer scientist lifestyle. At least those are the good things. With that comes hours at a computer, eye strain, headaches, dealing with clients, and so much more. Yes, computer science is a popular major but is it the right major for you?

    Jul 29th, 2019