Tampa cybersecurity firm A-LIGN expects to boost client service with the opening of a new office in Denver.
The new office is the first outside of Tampa for the firm, which specializes in helping businesses with their audit and security assessments.
“We have 2,200 clients spread throughout the country. Our highest client count concentration is in California. For us, it’s important to show on a national basis, that while our roots are in Tampa we are expanding west,” said Scott Price, CEO.
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Denver is one of the nation’s fastest-growing technology hubs and “what Tampa wants to be in a few years,” Price said. “The cost of living is good. Transportation is good and the technology hub is strong. It has some of the things that California or Austin have, but it still maintains its Silicon Mountain type of a feel. The culture and community of Tampa is somewhat similar to culture and community of Denver, and as we try to connect closer to our client base, that really drives the move to Denver for us.”
Tampa and Denver each have a strong university system that provides a talent pipeline, but one thing Tampa is missing that Denver has is a “sense of place.” That’s changing, Price said, with the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development downtown, with the connected cities initiatives in the Wesley Chapel area, and with the growing cross-pollenization between Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
While New York is associated with financial firms, and Silicon Valley with technology in general, no single community is associated with cybersecurity.
“No one has planted the flag of being the cybersecurity hub in my opinion … but I think Tampa is doing a great job of digging the hole for the flagpole,” Price said.
He cited the presence of other cybersecurity firms, including KnowBe4 in Clearwater and ReliaQuest in Tampa, the talent coming out of the University of South Florida and University of Tampa, and government contractors that work with MacDill Air Force Base.
“That’s the advantage Tampa has on other locations around the country,” Price said. “You have a good pipeline, affordable housing and both commercial companies like ours coupled with the governmental opportunities. Tampa is primed to build that cybersecurity hub that other cities have not been able to grab a foothold of, and I think we have more ingredients to make a better case.”
A-LIGN is one of the fastest-growing companies in its industry and in Tampa Bay. FTV Capital invested $54.5 million in A-LIGN last year. The company was No. 1,065 on the 2018 Inc. 5000, with $20.7 million in 2017 revenue and a three-year growth rate of 462 percent. A-LIGN currently has 250 employees, up about 50 from the start of the year, and Price expects to end 2019 with 300 workers.
A-LIGN’s new office in INDUSTRY, a shared workspace in Denver’s arts district, will occupy “a few thousand” square feet with about 30 people in the office, many who have worked remotely for A-LIGN for several years. It will be led by Blaise Wabo, who’s been working remotely in Dallas. “One of the main universities we recruit from is University of Colorado at Boulder, and now that the office is open we will be recruiting more people and expand that office as well,” Price said.
Since A-LIGN has a remote workforce, why have any offices at all? “Cybersecurity is constantly changing and evolving, and our client base is clamoring for education, for face-to-face interaction to discuss these issues,” Price said. “So we want to be closer to our clients, and having that office allows us to be closer to our clients.”
The expansion to the Mile High City also puts A-LIGN in a later time zone to better serve its west coast clients, Price said.
The office opening coincides with A-LIGN’s 10th year in business and its CLIMB event, an annual gathering of employees and their families that will be held this year in Denver. Momentum is this year’s theme.
“Prior to the event, we went to seven cities and had town halls and asked, ‘What do we do as a company that creates momentum and let’s do more of it, and what do we do that hinders momentum and slows you down, and how do we figure out a way to make it not slow you down or turn it into a solution into creating momentum,” Price said. “This will allow us to share the results of the seven cities tour of the top things that create momentum and hinder momentum, and then we’ll give the employees the opportunity to vote on what we should tackle first … the employees will drive that strategy of what we do for the next six months.”