Epic Hopes WI Campus Can Help in Talent War with Apple, Facebook

Epic Systems’ massive, rapidly expanding campus tucked away in the Madison, WI, suburb of Verona is well known among locals and those who follow the electronic health records software industry. It’s probably less familiar to many tech executives in Silicon Valley, even though Epic designed it partly to beat them in the war for young talent.

Epic’s whimsical corporate headquarters—stretched over almost 1,000 acres of former farmland that now has an estimated real estate value of more than $700 million—is on par with famed California home bases for companies like Google or Apple. (Facebook’s Menlo Park, CA, offices are pictured above.) Epic boasts 12 office buildings (with five more on the way), an 11,400-seat auditorium, and thousands of individual offices, according to the Capital Times.

The company, led by quirky media-shy founder Judy Faulkner, also likes to have fun with the themes for its spaces, such as a hallway designed to look like the inside of a subway car, a tunnel with décor straight out of the Indiana Jones flicks, and a planned group of buildings modeled after Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There’s a reason Epic went all-out on its campus, Faulkner said this week during the company’s annual users group meeting that reportedly drew more than 10,000 people.

“We are competing for talent with Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook,” Faulkner said. “We need to give these people a reason to come to Wisconsin.”

Attracting and retaining young talent will be crucial if Madison, and the state as a whole, intend to transform into a technology hotbed. Many graduates of the state’s universities, particularly the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have opportunities to work out West for top software companies. Epic aims to provide a reason for them to stay.

Despite Wisconsin’s brutal winters, Epic doesn’t appear to be having any trouble recruiting people to Verona. Over the past three years, the company has nearly doubled its staff to 8,100 employees, the Capital Times reported. That growth has plenty of residual effects on the local economy, from construction workers required to build new apartment complexes in downtown Madison and the surrounding area, to an emerging healthtech startup scene.

Of course, Epic’s rapid expansion rate can’t be expected to continue forever. And the company faces a stiff challenge from competitors like Cerner, which recently bought rival Siemens Health Services for $1.3 billion.

But for the moment, one can’t help but marvel at the scope of Epic’s operation in a tiny Midwest city, and (for the nerds and fantasy fans like me) feel a little jealous that I don’t have an office in a real-life Hogwarts.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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  • guest

    not sure I would go to a company because of a conference room. There is more to planning a budding career than paint and props. I feel the author should have also mentioned the more substantive reasons to join Epic.

  • IAMBIC

    Great article!

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