The Central and Eastern European region has become a major IT hub, spurring the international expansion of successful technology start-ups, particularly from Romania. Internationally acknowledged talent in software development has created a highly lucrative opportunity in Romania for technology investment, says Bitdefender’s founder, Florin Talpeș.
IT services, software development and high-tech product innovations will expand rapidly in Romania, a country reporting unsuually fast growth in the sector. The 200,000 people who will be working in this sector in Romania by the end of the decade could increase the IT&C contribution to 10% of the country’s gross domestic product, or $10 billion-$15 billion.
“The future of the high-tech sector is extremely bright in this part of the world,” Talpeș says. “There will be spectacular changes in coming decades in the way companies perceive human resources: the flexibility of operating skills and knowledge will overtake the current situation of owning a major part of the resources working for companies.”
Romania climbed to the third position in the list of the most attractive markets for foreign direct investment in the CEE region, gaining two percentage points in investors’ preferences, according to the 2014 edition of the EY Study - European attractiveness survey. As attraction declines to markets such as Poland (31%, a decrease of 6% compared to 2013) and the Czech Republic (11%, down 4% from 2013), Romania (+2%) is now considered, alongside Hungary (+3%) and Turkey (+4%), a top destinations for investment in Eastern Europe.
The availability of IT knowledge is not a challenge in the region, as companies have become actively involved in the educational chain by helping universities provide skills according to market needs. For every three jobs available, two candidates apply. Romania is also leader in Europe and sixth in the world, in terms of certified IT specialists, with more than 60,000 specialists.
The Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 Rankings by The World Economic Forum show illustrate Romania’s significant leap forward, ranking 59, from 77 previously.
Romania has been a major spot on the investors’ map since 2000. Last year, Facebook bought video ad tech startup LiveRail, allegedly for $500 million, to target 7 billion video ads to its visitors per month, and Canadian giant HootSuite acquired uberVU, a social media marketing platform created by three Romanians. The year before, American private equity firm Francisco Partners acquired Avangate, a Romanian firm that provides e-commerce services related to software, cloud applications and software as a service. In 2009 and 2011, Cisco’s network equipment producer growth fund invested tens of millions of dollars in minority stakes in Romanian companies and, in 2003, Microsoft bought Romanian antivirus company RAV for $20 million. South African Internet holding company Naspers has also bought online businesses in Eastern Europe.
“I am married to Bitdefender, so I am looking forward to developing this company on a long-term perspective. Our goal is to become one of the unicorns in Central and Eastern Europe, to reach one billion in revenue in the coming years. We want to go public in the future,” Talpeș said.
Bitdefender is a global security technology company that delivers solutions in more than 150 countries through a network of value-added alliances, distributors and reseller partners. Since 2001, Bitdefender has consistently produced award-winning business and consumer security technology, and is a leading security provider in virtualization and cloud technologies. Through R&D, alliances and partnership teams, Bitdefender has raised global standards of security with its #1 -ranked technology and its strategic alliances with the world’s leading virtualization and cloud technology providers.
Among the operations in over 150 countries, the US market is the most important for Bitdefender in terms of revenue and number of employees outside the home country – nearly 50. Bitdefender has earned the trust of US customers - from the home user to the largest corporations - and focuses on staying ahead of the competition and helping clients reinvent security to meet the challenges of today. Some 7% of the planet’s population places trust directly or indirectly in Bitdefender every day through the companies they work for.