This article was originally published in Chief Executive by Indiana Economic Development.
When California’s Salesforce acquired ExactTarget in 2013, Indianapolis suddenly became the company’s second-largest hub. “It was significant for us being a major player in the high-tech industry—Salesforce defined the cloud and started the trend to it—making a major investment in a place like Indianapolis,” says Bob Stutz, CEO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
With a Microsoft background and experience at several high-tech havens, Stutz came to Indy to run the largest technology company in the state. He quickly embraced its “tech scene, vibrant culture, beautiful homes and unlimited potential,” as he posted in a blog, as well as its “booming economy, affordable living and business-friendly environment.”
In 2017, Salesforce affirmed its presence in Indianapolis by buying the Chase Bank tower downtown, rechristening it Salesforce Tower and moving many of its 1,600 area employees into the building. The company also committed to training and placing 500 apprentices in the Indiana tech economy by 2020.
By fall 2017, Salesforce was using an Indy-style race car sitting in the lobby of its California headquarters to help recruit staffers to move to Indianapolis. “Now we’ve got not only our people, but people from other companies saying, ‘Can you tell us a bit more about what you’re doing in Indianapolis?’” says Stutz.
“The caliber and quality of the Indianapolis workforce are one of the big reasons we came here. Not just the skill set, but their work ethic, values and culture. They have a great ownership mentality. And there’s a great sense of community engagement.”
Similarly, San Francisco-based Genesys has been pleased with its experience after acquiring Indianapolis-headquartered Interactive Intelligence in 2016. “We can recruit really good talent, with a good pipeline from the universities, as well as from industry,” says Paul Segre, CEO of the customer service software giant.
The pool of digitally accomplished workers in Indianapolis helped Angie’s List become a giant of the online home contractor referral business and one of the city’s biggest employers. It laid off people in 2017 in a merger of equals with HomeAdvisor, but ANGI Homeservices plans to re-expand locally.
“The caliber and quality of the Indianapolis workforce is one of the big reasons,” says Mark Howell, a top executive of Angie’s List until the end of 2017. “Not just the skill set, but their work ethic, values and culture. They have a great ownership mentality. And there’s a great sense of community engagement.”
Indiana officials also worked with HomeAdvisor’s New York-based parent company, IAC, to grease the skids for more growth in Indianapolis. “They’ve been working with the airport to get more direct flights,” says Howell. “[They’re] also working to develop office space, create parking and just make it easier for the new company to hire, house and develop people.”
Being in the same vertical, Ben Lanius hopes that the company he founded and heads in Indianapolis, HighPoint Global, reaches Genesys-type heights. HighPoint helps government call centers improve the citizen experience. “The local talent pool is big and crucial,” says Lanius, who established HighPoint in 2006. “But we’ve also got people moving here to be part of our company from the likes of Dallas, Boston and Atlanta.”
Entrepreneur Donald Brown can well understand why tech companies treasure the capabilities of Indiana. He founded two Indiana-based tech companies that became giant enterprises, Software Artistry and Interactive Intelligence. Recently Brown launched a third: LifeOmic, a biotech software company, which analyzes genome data.
The success of his companies helped create a pool of digital and medical technology talent in the area. “We’re blessed with a nice concentration of people with experience in building tech companies, and we’ve been successful over the years in hiring people out of Indiana University, Purdue, and Rose-Hulman—which is a little-known gem,” Brown says. “I’d put these teams up against anybody in the world.”