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Silicon Valley startup opens office in Raleigh, aiming to hire 120 people

Raleigh is making new rules for downtown development. The city is setting new height limits for downtown, likely making it easier to build higher without getting council approval. Here the PNC building looms over shorter building nearby on Friday, May 8, 2015.
Raleigh is making new rules for downtown development. The city is setting new height limits for downtown, likely making it easier to build higher without getting council approval. Here the PNC building looms over shorter building nearby on Friday, May 8, 2015. N&O File photo

After weighing options in Pittsburgh, Detroit and several cities in Florida, Egnyte, a cloud storage company from Silicon Valley, opened a Raleigh office on Thursday with plans to eventually hire 120 people.

The office, on the 18th floor of the PNC Plaza building, will serve as the lead sales office for the company’s East Coast operations, a geographic area that includes everything east of the Rocky Mountains.

However, despite the sales focus, the office is hiring across all positions, including engineering, product and customer success teams.

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The entrance to Egnyte’s offices in downtown Raleigh, N.C. The company plans to reach a headcount of around 120 people inside PNC Plaza at 301 Fayetteville St. Courtesy of Egnyte

“I don’t think there will be any position that we will shy away from” hiring in Raleigh, said Vineet Jain, the co-founder and CEO of Egnyte.

Egnyte, a competitor to companies like Dropbox, helps businesses share and store files and data using both cloud storage and companies’ own data centers. It also offers software that helps companies manage and protect their files and data by controlling access and the use of encryption technology.

The company says it now has 15,000 customers, ranging from small five-person companies to large organizations, like energy drink maker Red Bull and Boston Consulting Group.

It also comes with a large amount of investment backing to grow its headcount across the world. The company has almost 500 employees and has raised a total of $137.5 million from investors since it was founded in 2007. The company’s backers include Goldman Sachs and Google.

Jain said it’s no secret why the company wants an office in Raleigh. It has become increasingly hard to hire people in California, where there are thousands of tech companies competing for talent and high costs of living are making it harder for new employees to live there.

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The inside of Egnyte’s offices in PNC Plaza in downtown Raleigh. Courtesy of Egnyte

Besides Raleigh, the company also has offices in Spokane, Washington; Poland and England.

“We are based in Mountain View, California, where unemployment is like one to two percent at this point,” Jain said. “The world of tech, since 2009, has been on a higher and higher note and the biggest challenge is finding talent here. Of course we want people to be closer to us, but we broke that mold about seven years ago.”

That was when, without really even knowing where Spokane was, Jain opened its first office outside of California. The office was successful for Egnyte, Jain said, and gave the company the confidence to build more offices outside of California.

It chose Raleigh mainly because it sees the universities in the area as creating a steady source of high quality graduates.

“It is one of best areas for tapping talent coming out of schools,” Jain said.

The Raleigh area had an unemployment rate of 4% for June, the most recent month for which the state’s Commerce Department had data. The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area had a 4.1% unemployment rate.

Jain said he thinks there is plenty of room to grow before the area starts to get saturated with competition, like an Austin or Boston. That’s not to say competition for talent isn’t already fierce in the Triangle, he added.

“People might think that Raleigh is relatively smaller than the Bay area, but it is still very competitive,” Jain said. “Companies see tremendous talent here and say, ‘Let’s go after it.’”

He noted that while there are some savings by hiring outside of Silicon Valley, the main benefit of putting an office in a smaller market is employee retention. It is easier, Jain thinks, to keep an employee once they are hired in a Raleigh or a Spokane than if it was a bigger market.

“People might think if you are going to Portland (Oregon) or Austin — beyond the tier one places — that there will be savings,” he said. “There is definitely a marginal decrease. So, If you pay someone $100 in Silicon Valley for a role, you may pay $85 in Raleigh.”

“But it is the work ethic and retention” that Egnyte cares more about, he said. “What worries me the most is not hiring, it is retaining them.”

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.
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