Tech company Qualtrics, which two years ago designated Seattle as its co-headquarters, doubled down Wednesday with the announcement of a huge new lease in a striking skyscraper under construction in the city. The deal sets the stage for the experience management company to quadruple its workforce to more than 2,000 people in the region in the years ahead.
The building, previously known as 2+U, will be renamed Qualtrics Tower in recognition of the deal. Ryan Smith, the CEO and co-founder of Qualtrics, said in an interview that it’s meant to be “a big statement” about the company’s plans for the Seattle region, in combination with its other HQ location in Provo, Utah.
Qualtrics has leased 275,000 square feet across 13 stories in the tower, being developed and built by Skanska at Second Avenue and University Street. The company is slated to move into the new building next year.
Smith cited the expansion as one of the benefits of SAP acquiring Qualtrics last year. The $8 billion acquisition came just days before Qualtrics was set to go public as a standalone company.
“We probably wouldn’t have been able to do this on our own, but this is the benefit that SAP brings. This was part of the dream when we signed up, and it’s cool to see it all coming to fruition.
Company-wide, Qualtrics plans to grow from 2,500 employees today to approximately 8,000 by 2023. In addition to its projected growth in Seattle, Qualtrics recently opened a new office building in Dublin, its European headquarters, with room for 600 more people.
SAP previously made its presence known in the Seattle area when it acquired expense management company Concur Technologies for $8.3 billion back in 2014. Between SAP itself, Concur and Qualtrics, the company will have a combined headcount of more than 5,000 in the Seattle area in a few years.
Qualtrics is in the customer-experience management business, helping companies measure, understand and improve the ways their customers and employees experience products, services and their roles inside companies. It competes against players such as Medallia; SurveyMonkey and marketing research firms such as Aon Hewitt and Towers Watson.
The office is led by Seattle tech leaders with impressive resumes, including former Amazon executive John Thimsen, who leads engineering; Webb Stevens, formerly of Avalara and head of product; and longtime Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green, who was hired last year as the company’s chief experience officer.
“While we are really excited as technologists about all the details about how it works, people just really want to use their devices to get something done or to use software to get something done,” says Larson-Green on a new episode of the GeekWire Podcast, explaining the company’s approach. “So how can we help them get something done faster? And so that’s what our tool is about: helping you understand the gap between what it is you think you’re doing and what you’re actually doing.”
Qualtrics outgrew a space near CenturyLink Field, which today is home to approximately 500 people. Qualtrics Tower will also be home to job search engine Indeed, Dropbox and co-working company Spaces. The uniquely-designed tower relies on pillars lifting the office portion 85 feet off the ground, leaving room for an “urban village” underneath, with retail, restaurants and gathering spaces.
Qualtrics was founded in 2002 to simplify academic research. The company later expanded beyond the academic world to serve corporations with core products focused on improving experience in four areas: customers, products, brands and employees.
Other co-founders are BYU professor Scott M. Smith, former Google employee Jared Smith and Stuart Orgill. Before it was acquired by SAP, Qualtrics raised a combined $400 million in funding, including a $180 million round in 2017, and its backers include Accel, Insight Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital.