February 2007 was a time of celebration for TechSmith. Not only did the company observe its nineteenth birthday, it also released some truly exciting news. On February 13, Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced that TechSmith will invest more than $18 million to build a new world headquarters in the Michigan State University Corporate Research Park located within the Lansing Regional SmartZone. The project is expected to create at least 105 new jobs, including 75 or more directly by the company.
Granholm said, “We are working our economic plan every day to help high-tech companies like TechSmith grow in Michigan. The company’s decision to stay, invest and create new jobs in Lansing is a testament to our business-friendly climate and first-class workforce.”
Assistance offered through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) helped convince the company to expand in Michigan. The MEDC is a partnership between the state and local communities, dedicated to promoting economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs.
When William Hamilton founded TechSmith in 1987, it was a small consulting company designing custom software for Windows. Hamilton said, “Microsoft Windows wasn’t in the position it is today. I’d go into an IT department and be laughed out of the office when I talked about Windows. But by 1992, Windows was mainstream, and software was available for purchase. Businesses didn’t need to pay a consultant to come in and set up their systems. That, along with a general economic downturn, convinced me that I needed to shift my focus from consulting to creating a new product. We launched SnagIt in 1991, and today, we have users worldwide.”
In addition to SnagIt, TechSmith’s development of Camtasia Studio and Morae increased its reputation and reach to such a degree that its products are now used in virtually all of Fortune 500 companies; educational institutions like Michigan State University, Harvard, Cornell and Princeton; and government agencies including the Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Service. TechSmith’s products are offered in five languages and used in more than 37 countries by more than 7 million people. All this innovation led to a 42 percent increase in sales over last year.
SnagIt is a screen capture and editing program allowing users to select anything on the computer screen, save it to a file, send it to an editor to add professional effects, share it via e-mail or drop it into PowerPoint®, Word® or another application. PC Magazine gives the technology a perfect five-star rating in its Incredibly Useful Utilities category, a distinction SnagIt shares with Google Earth, WinZip and Trillian. Hamilton calls SnagIt “a print screen on steroids.” TechSmith’s website gives more details and allows users to download and sample the program.
Using lessons learned from SnagIt’s video capture feature led to the development of Camtasia, a screen video recording tool, released in 1999. By 2002, the product had changed enough to warrant renaming it Camtasia Studio. It is a complete solution for recording, editing and sharing high-quality screen video on the Web, CD-ROM and portable media players, including iPod. Used to create training videos, screen casts and presentations, it is especially useful for educators, information technology and training professionals and for integrating video content into Flash projects.
Morae is a research tool for usability testing; it enables organizations to observe and record how customers really interact with a website or application and gives a complete and accurate understanding of user needs. Its use has helped create award-winning websites and reduces the cost of usability testing in education, software and Web development and consulting.
According to Hamilton, “The information technology field is immensely competitive, but we are the market leader worldwide in screen capture and screen recording software for the office professional. But we know better than to sit back and congratulate ourselves. We are always working to improve our existing products and create new ones.
“We now employ about 135 and will continue to grow. We made a commitment to MEDC to add at least fifteen new employees a year over the next five years, and I think that’s a conservative estimate. Of course, we hire a lot of technical staff, graduates in computer science and the like, but we also have jobs in shipping, accounting, marketing and quality assurance. We have 15 job openings posted on our website right now. Our expansion will dovetail nicely with the MEDC’s desire to hire and retain employees from this area.”
Jody Burgess, vice president of marketing, stated, “The foundation of our marketing effort is word-of-mouth. Organizations that use our products value them, and the reputation we have developed serves us well. We have an established base of customers that continues to grow. We attend 30 to 35 trade shows a year all over the world and advertise online and in trade publications. Our website gets between 60,000 to 80,000 hits daily, and about 10,000 of those visitors download samples of our products to try before they buy. We even have a chief evangelist on staff! Betsy Weber collaborates with customers, industry experts and technologists from all over the world and also writes “The Visual Lounge” blog to share stories from TechSmith product users.”
She added, “TechSmith is a great company to work for. The atmosphere is casual and collaborative. Creativity and experimentation are valued and rewarded.”
Hamilton is excited about the plans for expansion. He said, “This is the first time we’ll be able to create a building that perfectly suits our needs. Right now, we’re using three separate buildings; the new space will be about 100,000 square feet and will house the entire operation. We will be close to MSU and MBI International, and, as part of the SmartZone, will be part of a dynamic group working to stimulate the growth of technology-based businesses in Lansing.”
Plans for the partnership have been under way for more than a year. While Hamilton also considered Indianapolis for the expansion, he said, “Everything came together here in Lansing. There’s a high level of cooperation with lots of players involved. The City of Lansing, the State, MSU, MEDC, the banks—it soon became clear to me that this is where we needed to be.”
The groundbreaking for the new building is scheduled for May, and Hamilton expects construction to be completed within a year. The facility will be designed by Neumann Smith Architects and built by Granger Construction. The new headquarters will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, indicating that it is a high-performance “green” building.
There’s a common phrase in business circles: a win-win situation. TechSmith’s success and anticipated expansion is a win-win situation multiplied many times over. Not only can TechSmith and its employees celebrate the good news, it’s also positive news for those employees who will be hired over the coming years, as well as for Lansing and the entire state of Michigan.
William Hamilton, President
Jody Burgess, Vice President of Marketing
2405 Woodlake Dr., Okemos
517-381-2300 • www.techsmith.com