The new digs for Australian email marketing software company Campaign Monitor are a far cry from the early days when founders Ben Richardson and Dave Greiner established the platform in a spare room at Richardson’s father’s house, south of Sydney.
For the past decade Campaign Monitor has been based in Sutherland, on Sydney’s southern outskirts.
Their company’s first proper headquarters, not far from where Richardson and Greiner started it all, became well known for some unusual features: every employee had their their own office, a chef to prepare breakfast and lunch, and there was a killer ping pong culture.
But as the company grew, attracting talent so far south of the CBD became an increasingly difficult sell, even with the office spaces and free food.
For a long time the company has promised its employees it would move into the CBD. Over the past two years Greiner and Richardson scoped out about 40 different locations before they settled on level 37 and 38 of an Elizabeth Street high rise in the middle of Sydney.
The new office is 2,300 square metres in size and has sweeping views in all directions.
By the elevator on level 38, the company has brought a little bit of its south Sydney history with them, having a custom mural painted by local street artist Elliott “Numskull” Routledge.
When I was waiting at reception I could see Greiner and Richardson debating something in a wall-to-wall glass meeting room. To my right was a huge void and internal staircase, and behind me were insane views towards Hyde Park.
Company CEO Alex Bard described what was probably going on behind the glass. In one way he’s technically now the founders’ boss, but with their board positions they’re also his boss, in a weird circular way.
“They’re intense, they get really passionate. I’ve seen Dave get fired up and Ben get fired up and they debate things. It’s really great because good things come out of that,” Bard told Business Insider.
“They also flip-flop back-and-forth, so they’ll have this heated debate about doing product one way and you think you’ve got to a resolution, and then they’ll flip and start debating the other side of it, because they really want to be able to think through what is the right outcome for the customer. It’s fun to see them go at it in that way.”
For a company which aims to make it simpler for businesses to send well-designed emails on every device, surroundings promoting creativity and collaboration were part of the design brief.
Obstacles to collaboration had to be removed. Within the office they settled on, a big chunk of expensive CBD floor space was removed to make room for internal stairs. Company CMO Kraig Swensrud said the decision was made because getting in an elevator would be a barrier to collaboration.
Currently there are 64 employees spread across the two floors.
Everyone has a personal standing desk, something Bard is enthusiastic about. He explained to Business Insider that he had read an article about how sitting was the new smoking and that a healthy workplace was important.
Each team also has its own meeting room, collaboration space (which consists of a couch, oversized comfy chairs and a TV which is hooked up for teleconferencing) and a bank of desks. They opted to get rid of the individual office setup in favour of a more open seating arrangement because the company has changed to work in “team-based structures”.
But there are rows of empty desks – at least 88 – which Bard hopes will be filled before the year is out. “We plan to expand aggressively here,” he said. All up, the company will be expanding to 200 employees in Sydney and San Francisco.
With incredible harbour views and a relatively flat management structure (Bard knew most people’s names as we walked around the office) the best outlook in the Sydney office wasn’t reserved for the founders or top level management – they all look south towards their old headquarters. No, the prime position is where all the staff food gets cooked and eaten.
Head chef Ollie Heath has a kitchen and a job many, in his line of work, would kill for. He doesn’t work weekends or nights and is incredibly passionate about what he plates up for the Monitors (that’s what they call themselves). At a recent internal company hack-a-thon the team built him his own app called Nomitor which helps him manage kitchen orders, tell the team when lunch is ready, and communicate the daily menus.
Heath runs his full sized commercial kitchen on a paddock-to-plate ethos. Everything he dishes up is ethically sourced, seasonal and free range.
He’s also a classically trained French chef and his cherry and walnut chocolate brownies are an in-house favourite. In passing the head chef told Business Insider since moving to the new office this month his food orders have increased significantly, and even though the company’s US team has been in Australia the past week, he’s convinced the employees are eating more.
To the west the offices look down over a roof top pool – something a number of employees have been trying to figure out how to run a zipline to.
There’s even room for the company’s two full size ping pong tables. There’s also an internal company app which ranks every employee based on past ping pong rounds.
In April last year Greiner and Richardson raised $US250 million in a round led by New York-based Insight Venture Partners. It paved the way for further expansion into the US with the appointment of Bard, a former Salesforce exec.
It also enabled Greiner and Richardson to concentrate on the part of the business they were most passionate about – product development.
Since taking on the investment, Campaign Monitor is now majority owned by Insight Venture Partners, while the co-founders still hold a substantial share of the company.
In November the company acquired online survey software company GetFeedback. Bard said there were a few more opportunities the company was considering, including more acquisitions.
“We’re going to build up parts of the company which it never really had muscle in. We’re going to invest in marketing, sales and invest more in customer success. Obviously we’re going to make huge investments in product, we’re going to look at acquisitions that could help,” Bard said.