On a sunlit afternoon, with views of Lake Mendota and the start of fall colors dappling the landscape below, Zendesk showed off its spacious, new offices on the sixth floor of the U.S. Bank building on Capitol Square on Wednesday.
With 50 employees at 1 S. Pinckney St. and plans to add another 50, Madison houses the second-largest U.S. office of the San Francisco company whose customer service technology platform serves more than 45,000 companies worldwide.
Mikkel Svane, Zendesk’s Danish co-founder and chief executive, headed the celebration, praising the Madison community for its “incredibly warm welcome.”
“We are very, very honored to now call this our second home,” he said.
Founded in 2007 in Copenhagen, Zendesk provides cloudbased customer service and help desk software. The company reported $72 million in revenue in 2013 and raised $100 million in its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in May.
“It is a new start for this company,” Svane said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to make our software accessible for small businesses as well as very large businesses.”
Svane said Zendesk’s presence in Madison started when the company hired two employees here to work remotely. “It was a coincidence. They were supposed to move to San Francisco,” he said.
Instead, their ranks grew to nine or 10, working out of an apartment. Svane began to ask questions about Madison. One of his neighbors grew up in Madison and told Svane that one day, he planned to move back here.
“It’s a great testament to the city. ... This is a place where people move back,” he said.
As the company supports its San Francisco environs — the challenging Tenderloin neighborhood — Zendesk also plans to give back to Madison, Svane said. He said Zendesk will donate at least $75,000 to local nonprofits, and employees will spend at least 400 hours volunteering with area organizations.
“It helps us, as a company, understand our community better” and makes for smarter employees by getting them “involved in what really matters,” Svane said.
He named Greg Collins the vice president of global customer advocacy, the first executive working from Madison.
In an interview after the celebration, Svane praised Madison for its openness, curiosity, “progressive vibe” and “good quality, loyal people.” He said Zendesk chose Madison over Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Boulder and Denver, Colorado.
Svane also said employees already are working with the YWCA and the Madison Children’s Museum. The museum, he said, is a charming, intimate place.
“I’d love to bring my kids there,” said Svane, 43, the father of four children, ages 2 to 11.
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, was among the speakers at the event. “This is exactly the sort of project we’re so proud of,” Pocan said.