The face of downtown Gainesville is changing again. In the next few years, Bo Diddley Community Plaza may become the centerpiece of Florida’s own version of Silicon Valley—if this local entrepreneur has any say in it.
Trendy Entertainment CEO Agapitus Lye is no stranger to making headlines, but a new announcement may make the biggest splash yet.
As revealed in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the local video game developer has received an investment worth $18.2 million from Insight Venture Management, a New York-based investment firm that has previously funded companies like Tumblr, LivingSocial and Twitter.
Such a large infusion of capital could go a long way toward making Lye’s dream of seeing Gainesville become the technology hub of the Southeast into a reality. Many of the technology startups that have located downtown (Digital Brands, ShadowHealth, Grooveshark) have hit what Lye calls an “inflection point,” in which a company’s financial situation turns around, and he believes that they will change the face of Gainesville.
Another one of those companies is Prioria Robotics, co-founded by tech-guru Amir Rubin (also of ShadowHealth).
Lye, from Jacksonville, graduated from the University of Florida to work as a computer vision researcher at Prioria while also working on his company ToneRite, which produces a device that helps time-pressed musicians “play-in” their string instruments. Ultimately, Lye started Trendy Entertainment with co-founder Jeremy Stieglitz in December 2009.
Gainesville-grown Trendy recently moved into a new office downtown and employs about 30 people. It specializes in downloadable videogame titles—most notably Dungeon Defenders, which has been downloaded more than 3.5 million times since it was released in October. Trendy has been hard at work on expansion content for Dungeon Defenders, but the investment could mean a lot for future content.
As of press time, Lye could officially neither “confirm nor deny” that Trendy had received an investment, but he could talk about what such an investment might mean for the video game landscape in the area and his hopes for turning Gainesville into the next big name in gaming. Overall, he says, “A lot of people in the studio are very happy.
“Happy people make happy companies, which make happy products. If I were to have a deal, it would be one to make everybody very happy.”