St. Louis’ Latest Tech ‘Gets’ – Pandora, Uber

Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Pandora, the music streaming service, is opening its Midwest regional sales office in the Cortex Innovation District, and we’ve learned that Uber, the ride-share service, isn’t far behind in opening a physical presence.

This news comes a couple of weeks after Square, the mobile payments company, announced it’ll open its fourth U.S. office in St. Louis, and will eventually hire 200-plus people.

“I think it’s a really big deal,” said Dougan Sherwood, managing director of CIC St. Louis, in a phone interview Monday. “It’s very validating.”

CIC — short for Cambridge Innovation Center — is a spin-off of a shared innovation space that’s outside Boston. It’s the facility within the Cortex district that these companies are locating in. Cortex is in the city’s Central West End neighborhood.

Sherwood says Pandora told him the feel there is similar to what they’re used to in Silicon Valley.

Like Square, Sherwood says these two are not coming because of the ‘cheap’ cost-of-living.

“The real expense for a company like Pandora is entering the wrong market at the wrong time,” he said. “That dwarfs anything like prices of real estate or heads of lettuce and gallons of gasoline.”

Their building has a big, spinning ‘@’ symbol on the roof, visible from Interstate 64/40, like a billboard for the city’s tech progress.

Sherwood said the fact that name-brand consumer companies like Pandora and Uber are taking notice is confirmation.

“Everything we’re doing here is a day-to-day grind and, so, it’s great to see what we seem to be headed in the right direction,” he said.

Running out of space at its original building, CIC recently took over what was previously known as the Center for Emerging Technologies building, and Sherwood said they plan a renovation of underused space there into what he calls “CIC Labs.”

Several other projects are planned across the Cortex district, including an industrial workshop for entrepreneurs, new office buildings and a new MetroLink stop. IKEA opened there last week.

(TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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