Metal Toad respawns in Los Angeles

Metal Toad respawns in Los Angeles

Metal Toad is one of those 'What do they do?' Portland companies that is now up to a 60-person headcount.

The name doesn't help. Founder and CEO Joaquin Lippincott explains that years ago he was casting around for an email address and saw a metal toad paperweight on his desk. That was enough for him.

Later when he formed a company he recycled the name.

The company builds websites and advises other companies on digital strategy. With its growth however, Lippincott has just moved temporarily to Los Angeles to open a new Metal Toad office. The aim is to be close to Metal Toad's entertainment clients, which include NBC, ABC, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros., and the award shows the Golden Globes and the Emmys. For example, they built the website, and advised that it be hosted by Amazon Web Services.

In official language, Metal Toad is a technology consulting firm specializing in custom enterprise, web, mobile and cloud solutions in the entertainment and media industries.

They have a floor in the Yeon building downtown Portland, but expansion southwards seemed inevitable. The brick-and-mortar office is in the Century City area of Los Angeles, near enough to LAX and entertainment clients in Burbank and Culver City without being too far from downtown.

They did not join the Snapchat ghetto...sorry, tech hub, of Venice Beach, where Snap has bought every house along a residential street and tried to block public access, annoying the locals.

For Metal Toad life is not all ballgowns and goody bags: Their work includes writing fleet management software for Daimler Trucks. They're working on the future of logistics and infrastructure. "It's more about big data and how to get from A to B, and predicting failure on equipment," Lippincott explained to the Business Tribune.

"A lot of what is keeping us engaged is Big Data, mobile, IOT, machine learning, migration to the cloud..." They go up against IBM, Deloitte and Oracle.

Another line of work is with Seimens wind power of Denmark. Metal Toad has written software that works with drones and visual machine learning systems. For example, much of Europe's wind power generation happens at sea, in the windy Atlantic Ocean and in the North Sea. Maintenance of the giant blades of a turbine — some can be 100 meters long — is very expensive when you have to send a boat out: $100,000 a day according to Lippincott. It's better to send a drone to do the inspection. But the software needs to learn the symptoms of a damaged turbine and provide predictive analysis.

The firm is also helping Siemens with their Internet of Things devices, and United Natural Foods (UNFI) an organic wholesale food distributor in Rhode Island.