Once, many years ago when I was on a basketball team, our coach would frequently single out the smallest member of our squad, pointing out that she had an advantage she could quickly dodge in and out of groups of players, and kind of outfox the bigger girls. Occasionally this seemed to be true, but most of the time it didn't. The taller girls, who could much more easily reach the basket and whose longer legs could cover the court faster, generally speaking had an advantage over those of us who were vertically challenged. I dropped out after one season.
In the world of technology, it's often considered an advantage to be a small, young company, to be able to draw in talent with wacky games, toys and free beer, to be perceived as having no politics nor hierarchy, letting new ideas blossom quickly among a free-thinking and creative group. Yet what company best attracts top IT talent and gets new products out the door faster than most anybody else? Google.
There's room in the technology world and in the microcosm of financial services technology for both large and small competitors. As Karen Massey points out in her retrospective on the fintech industry on page 3, 28 companies have been consistently ranked in the Fintech 100 list of top vendors by revenue to financial services for each of the past ten years, and 12 have been regulars on the Enterprise 25 list of tech companies serving multiple industries. Their size and stability are part of these providers' appeal to banks.
There's also a place, in some cases a disruptive one, for startups and other newcomers that can bring fresh approaches to the market. Square and PayPal were tiny upstarts once.
What will become of the 10 companies we've chosen for this year's Top Ten Tech Companies to Watch? Some will make it on their own. They'll keep attracting venture capital and win over a few banks, which will draw other banks in their wake. Centripetal Networks, Zafin Labs and Crowd Computing are far down this path. One of our picks, Kofax, has been around for years but has reinvented itself and adapted proven technology to the rising tide of mobile banking. Another (Silver Tail) has already been bought by a very large company, but we still recognize it as a provider of timely, highly regarded security technology. Others are bound to get bought by larger vendors that covet their technology or customer base. All deserve credit for bringing ideas and innovation to light.