Throughout six floors inside a 20-story office tower in Tampa’s Water Street development, hundreds of young data analysts and software engineers inside ReliaQuest’s new headquarters are behind computer screens coding software.
The cybersecurity company recently opened its global HQ at 1001 Water Street in the Thousand & One building, becoming the first corporate anchor tenant for the $3.5 billion mixed-use development.
ReliaQuest inked a lease for 142,000 square feet to occupy seven floors in the tower; however, the seventh floor, located on the 13th level, is currently shell space the team will organically expand into.
“When we moved to Harbour Island, we outgrew that lease six months after we signed it. The beauty of Water Street is that it gives us a whole floorplan,” ReliaQuest CEO Brian Murphy said to the St. Pete Catalyst during a Monday media tour of the HQ.
The company had eyed several locations before committing to Water Street. ReliaQuest joins other tenants in the tower, such as accounting firm RSM.
“When our customers or company prospects come to meet us, we want them to realize they are in Tampa,” Murphy said.
He said 65% of ReliaQuest’s customer base is multi-national. The firm has six offices in the United States and Europe. In total, the company has 1,200 employees.
ReliaQuest spends 4% of its revenue on in-house employee training in Tampa. The company most recently started onboarding a class of over 70 employees, including 30 interns.
Last year, ReliaQuest acquired San Francisco threat intelligence firm Digital Shadows in a $160 million deal. As part of the acquisition, the firm’s London HQ rebranded and ReliaQuest onboarded its entire team.
In May, ReliaQuest announced it also acquired Netherlands-based EclecticIQ’s software and engineering assets.
The new HQ houses 500 team members.
Murphy noted that about 23% of ReliaQuest’s employee base are former military members with backgrounds in communications or software infrastructure.
ReliaQuest also pulls from the talent pipeline generated at the surrounding universities.
“I’m from Florida. I know the talent base across the state. There’s no question we could build and grow something here,” Murphy said. “Cybersecurity is the hardest technical challenge of our generation. People want to be a part of that fight.”
Murphy continuously credited Embarc Collective CEO Lakshmi Shenoy, who runs the incubator hub, for boosting Tampa’s tech exposure and helping companies scale.
“We have the talent and support of the community. It was difficult [at first] because we didn’t have the ancillary support system,” Murphy said.
ReliaQuest was founded in 2007. Twelve years later, Embarc Collective opened its doors.
“If I would have been a member of Embarc Collective [if it existed then], it wouldn’t have taken me 16 years to get to where I am now,” Murphy said.
He said Tampa is “having its moment” in the limelight, but it needs to continue to reel in companies with hundreds of employees and support existing startups.
What’s next for Water Street
“I think what resonated with Brian [Murphy] was for the team to be in a dynamic live-work-play environment, which really enables them to recruit talent,” said David Bevirt, executive vice president of corporate leasing and strategy for Strategic Property Partners, the group behind Water Street.
Commercial real estate firm SPP is a joint venture between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and partners and Cascade Investment, the investment firm funded by Bill Gates.
While the office markets are crippling in other metros as many large corporate execs are pivoting to implement more work-from-home models, it is shifting the mindset of corporate leaders who are now favoring quality over quantity in office space.
“With working from home, companies are lowering their footprint, but that enables them to seek higher quality real estate options so they can recruit and retain talent,” Bevirt said.
“We have three more deals out. It will take us to 85% [occupancy],” Bevirt said. He didn’t disclose the names of the companies, but said they are in the legal and financial services spaces.
The Thousand & One building is part of Phase 1 for the entire 56-acre district. The initial phase, which was completed last year, includes two residential towers, a JQ Marriot hotel, the Tampa EDITION hotel and a Public GreenWise Market.
SPP is in the planning stages for Phase 2 of Water Street.