Zendesk Opens New Madison Office With Room for 400+ Employees

Zendesk is ramping up its investments in Madison, WI, which is home to the customer-service software company’s second-largest U.S. office.

On Friday, San Francisco-based Zendesk (NYSE: ZEN) said it’s celebrating the opening of its new office on Madison’s Capitol Square, in the heart of the city’s downtown, with a tailgate-themed party. (Brats and beer, anyone?)

The $12.7 million expansion project is expected to create 136 jobs over the next three years, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The WEDC has authorized up to $800,000 in state income tax credits if Zendesk follows through on its local hiring and investment goals. Zendesk currently employs nearly 300 people in Wisconsin’s capital.

Zendesk’s Madison expansion is a noteworthy endorsement of the local environment for tech businesses. Wisconsin has at times struggled to keep homegrown tech companies from leaving for greener pastures in California and elsewhere. Luring businesses to the Badger State helps counter that narrative and boost its economy. Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn, which has pledged to spend $10 billion to construct a massive plant in southeastern Wisconsin, is the state’s biggest catch in recent memory. But as far as software and computer companies go, Madison has notched some notable wins over the years, including outposts for Google, Microsoft, and Dell.

Founded in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2007, Zendesk moved its headquarters to San Francisco (by way of Boston) in 2009. It has since grown to more than 2,000 employees and 15 offices worldwide.

Zendesk’s first two employees hired in Madison were originally supposed to relocate to San Francisco. They never ended up moving. After several months, co-founder and CEO Mikkel Svane took notice of the small Midwestern city’s strong talent pool, budding startup community, and humble, hard-working culture that he has said reminds him of his home country of Denmark. Zendesk officially opened a Madison office in May 2013.

“Madison started a little like coincidence,” Svane said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the local office in 2014. But, he continued, he sees the city as an “up and coming” startup hub where the competition for talent is less fierce than a place like Silicon Valley.

The Madison outpost—its “Midwest regional hub”—is home to employees in customer support, engineering, sales, corporate social responsibility, and business and technology operations, Zendesk said in a press release Friday.

In addition to its local business expansion, the company has awarded grants to Madison-area nonprofits and formed partnerships with area startup incubators and accelerators, including StartingBlock Madison, Gener8tor, 100state, and Doyenne Group.

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

Trending on Xconomy