How Philly locals came to build iPipeline, a software firm that sold for $1.6 billion

This article was first published by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

It’s rare and welcome news in Philly software when a local firm that everyone watched grow up sells for well over a billion dollars.

iPipeline, the Exton insurance-automation firm picked up by the Florida tech holding company Roper Technologies for $1.63 billion on Aug. 8, showcases a series of made-in-Philly features, including:

- A founder from the old-school insurance industry -- in this case, Chester County life-insurance agent Bill Atlee, who was frustrated by all the paperwork in life-insurance applications and imagined a better way.

- A seasoned CEO to grow with -- Tim Wallace, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania-trained accountant who over a long career showed a knack for turning small tech operations into businesses big enough to attract buyers such as Xerox, and boosted iPipeline sales to $200 million this year, from $5 million in 2008.

- A far-seeing investor -- Mike DiPiano, of NewSpring Capital, Radnor, one of the handful of Philly-area investment firms to raise and profitably invest more than $1 billion to grow small firms and sell them at a profit over the last 20 years.

All that’s lacking was an IPO, which could have listed iPipeline in the global stock markets and boosted its headquarters staff in Chester County beyond the current 275 people. Instead, iPipeline will be the latest of dozens of independent businesses operated by Florida-based Roper. But we can’t have everything, as Philly’s tech pioneers have demonstrated more than once.