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As SendGrid Opens Denver HQ, CEO Talks of Hiring Hundreds

As SendGrid Opens Denver HQ, CEO Talks of Hiring Hundreds

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A couple hundred people celebrated the official opening of SendGrid’s new headquarters in downtown Denver on Wednesday, and the company envisions a whole lot more people there in coming months.

The technology company’s new headquarters spans 1-1/2 floors of the 1801 California St. skyscraper, once the home of Qwest Communications, with SendGrid’s blue motif visible throughout the remodeled space.

Already, SendGrid is planning expansion into the other half floor it has leased and is eying expansion to a third floor as it grows into space for hundreds.

“We’re going to start to approach 1,000 people in four years companywide, and north of 70 percent of them are going to be here in this office,” Sameer Dholakia, CEO of SendGrid, told me.

SendGrid handles automated email delivery for companies, mostly small and mid-sized ones with a high volume of email related to websites or apps. The confirmation emails that users receive from companies such as Airbnb and Uber are among the 30 billion emails SendGrid handles monthly.

The company consolidated its offices elsewhere in downtown and in Boulder into the new Denver headquarters. It’s where 240 people work now.

SendGrid expects that will grow to at least 630 by 2020 with a lot of hiring in every department — software engineering, sales, finance, human resources — before then.

That kind of growth drew Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and other officials to the SendGrid party.

SendGrid started in Boulder in 2009, graduating from the Techstars startup accelerator boot camp. It opened its first Denver office in Larimer Square in 2012 with 19 employees.

Today, SendGrid has California offices in Redwood City, California, where Dholakia is based, and in Orange, California, near where SendGrid’s founders are from, as well its main workforce in Colorado. The company also opened an office in London last month.

Denver became the choice for its headquarters and the bulk of its operations because of the workers it could hire here or recruit to move here from elsewhere, Dholakia said.

“If you’re going to scale somewhere, you’ve got have that flow of talent,” he said. “And in Denver, you have it.”

Throw in affordable real estate compared to the coasts, a welcoming business climate, a high quality of life for workers, and it all added up: “The cost-effectiveness of being here is significant,” Dholakia said.

Fiona Arnold, executive director of the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, called SendGrid an sign that Colorado tech startups don’t have to move away to become large successes.

Hancock promised Denver would do its part to make SendGrid’s decision to move its headquarters a good one.

“We’ll take care of the other side of that door — make sure it’s safe for you, a good place to live with excellent schools for your kids,” he said.

SendGrid expects to be close to $100 million in annual revenue and operating profitably in 2017. That would put it in position to fulfill its hopes of going public next year.

SendGrid founders Isaac Saldana, company president; Tim Jenkins, chief technology officer; and Jose Lopez, SendGrid’s web architect, were on hand Wednesday to inaugurate the new headquarters.

They swapped quips over beers with former brewpub owner Hickenlooper, who led the entire party in a toast to the company and the state’s tech scene.

SendGrid’s founders, all Southern California residents, had the beginnings of their technology and interest from would-be customers, but little else when decided to move their startup to Boulder. Their hope was to find a supportive network of tech entrepreneurs that would help them establish the business, Saldana said.

“Funding and a team is not enough,” Saldana said. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We needed mentors around us.”

It’s something they found in abundance in Boulder, he said. Keeping SendGrid here and moving its headquarters to Denver is proving to be equally smart, added Jenkins.

“The amount of talent is tremendous,” he said.