Up-and-coming Silicon Valley company finding human resources it needs to grow in Spokane

Yet another leading technology company has quietly opened an office in downtown Spokane. Egnyte, based in Mountain View, California, took two floors above Luigi's in 2017 and expects to employ 100 people soon.

The company delivers an enterprise-class collaboration platform. It allows enterprises to simply and securely share and manage their files.

Egnyte has raised $62.5 million from top venture capital firms, including Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, and from technology partners such as CenturyLink and Seagate. The company raised its initial seed funding in 2007 and achieved profitability at the end of 2017. Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain told CNBC he is readying the company for an IPO (initial public offering) in 2019.

I spoke with Colin Jordan, director of corporate marketing, to find out more. The company's Spokane office is led by Austin Garner, a WSU graduate. Garner was working for Egnyte in its California headquarters, when, Jordan says, the company aspired to "capture more people like Austin." In 2014, the company moved Garner and a few others to the Spokane area to secure candidates from the city's "highly esteemed universities and young talent," as Jordan puts it.

Egnyte's Spokane-area employees initially worked remotely, and Garner officed out of his basement. Subsequently, they moved to a space in Spokane Valley. Garner and his team decided to relocate to downtown Spokane in 2017 because they wanted to "be visible, attract the best talent and be close to the university district," says Jordan.

When I asked Jordan why Egnyte picked the Luigi's building he smiled and said "we love Italian food!" Sometimes it's easy like that.

Jordan continued on a serious note with, "it is a cool building with a rich history and offers growth potential. It's also very well positioned downtown, walking distance to several great restaurants, close proximity to many local businesses and more. We really wanted to be part of the Spokane community."

The 60 employees in Spokane focus on sales, customer success and training. In addition to Mountain View and Spokane, the company also has offices in Raleigh, North Carolina, New York City and even Poland. Egntye has expanded into other locations because its CEO believes Silicon Valley workers have a "sense of entitlement" and competing to hire can be a near-impossible task.

The following is an enlightening excerpt from a CNBC story about the company: "Egnyte is doing most of its hiring far from its headquarters in Mountain View, California, [CEO] Jain says, because he can't add them fast enough there 'to move at startup speed.' Workers in the nation's biggest tech hub demand high salaries and top-shelf perks and are quick to jump ship if they don't like their work because opportunities are so plentiful, he says. 'There are no consequences for nonperformance' and 'a sense of entitlement in [Silicon Valley],' says Jain."

Jordan adds to that by saying, "Egnyte follows a different model. We believe geographic location does not define talent. Employees today can collaborate anytime, anyplace in areas like Spokane and Raleigh. We are going to find great talent and go to them, rather than making them come to us."

Egnyte's experience in Spokane has been positive. "I can't say enough about the quality and caliber of the labor pool, it is incredible," Jordan says. "Our Spokane teams have high energy, are excited, love working in tech and enjoy being part of Silicon Valley. It is not just about money in Spokane, people here are hungry, want opportunity and have different measures of success.

"Culturally, candidates in Spokane are genuine, honest and caring, really personable people to work with. We can teach the cloud and file sharing, but cannot teach those kinds of soft skills."

When asked if he would recommend Spokane to other technology companies in Silicon Valley, Jordan laughs, "No, we don't want others to find this hidden gem. But seriously, yes. I believe a lot more companies will be looking for similar traits as offered by Spokane. From a business standpoint, a tremendous amount of value is created in Spokane. Our growth in Spokane is one of the contributing factors in us achieving profitability in late 2017."

To attract more companies like Egnyte, Jordan suggested Spokane should connect its universities with incubators and accelerators in other tech hubs. "Connect talent early on. Every year there is a whole new crop of students that will eventually graduate and be looking for work," Jordan says.

F5 Networks, Rover and Egnyte are three successful technology companies that opened offices in the Spokane area. Observing this trend, and imagining the possibilities, Mayor David Condon and his staff are meeting with businesses, universities, entrepreneurs and economic development organizations to develop a team, a collaborative plan and marketing materials to proactively recruit more companies, more high-paying jobs and better opportunities to Spokane for our graduates. More on that later. ♦

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