Indoor slides, high-paying jobs part of Interactive’s expansion plan

A day in the life for hundreds of new employees at Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. could mean riding a slide from one floor of their office to the next while earning about $80,000 per year.
Officers of the Indianapolis software firm highlighted a few of the Silicon Valley-esque perks their company will offer as it undergoes a massive expansion unveiled on Thursday.
The company, founded in 1994, will add a $28 million office building to its corporate campus in northwest Indianapolis.
And with help from $8.3 million in conditional state tax credits, Interactive plans to hire 430 people by 2016 in Indiana.
“Now we’re at the point where we have close to 2,000 employees. We have offices around the globe. … but our heart and soul remains in Indianapolis, Indiana,” company chairman and CEO Don Brown said Thursday afternoon. “This is our headquarters. This is where I think the attitude emanates from. And everybody acknowledges that.”
The company, which designs software for corporate contact centers, plans to hire 300 people locally by the end of this year.
The hiring will fill a variety of tech positions—software developers, tech support, engineers—and other high-paying jobs, such as financial and management roles.
The average salary will be $80,000 per year, which is more than double the median Hoosier annual wage. Some of the new Interactive workers will earn twice as much, Brown said.
More than 1,000 people work at the Indianapolis headquarters today, with about 900 more across the globe.
Brown told IBJ the company plans to build up its work force outside of Indiana as well, but he did not have specifics.
The company houses its local operations in about 300,000 square feet set back from Interstate 465. The new building would add another 112,000 square feet.
Plans call for a state-of-the-art data center, energy-efficiency design certification and solar-charging stations for electric cars.
“We even, I think, are putting in a slide that’s going to go from one floor to the other—kind of a whimsical touch,” Brown said.
Construction of the new building should start this summer with completion slated for the third quarter of 2015.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Interactive Intelligence up to $8.3 million in conditional tax credits and up to $300,000 in training grants. The company must meet its hiring commitments in order to receive the tax breaks.
The city of Indianapolis will consider an additional tax abatement.
Interactive Intelligence generated $92.7 million in total 2013 Indiana payroll compensation, the state said.
Both Gov. Mike Pence and Mayor Greg Ballard appeared at Thursday’s press conference to express their support for Interactive.

“We’ve really become a hot bed of innovation for entrepreneurial, high-tech companies," Pence said.  “Hoosiers are driving the future of technology, with a tech community that’s strong and fueled by impressive homegrown success stories like that of Interactive Intelligence’s.”
Thursday’s announcement follows a growth tear at Interactive during the past few years.
Globally, employee head count has more than doubled since 2011. That included 170 Indiana hires in 2013, Interactive said Thursday.
The company has focused on building its cloud-based services, which were virtually non-existent a few years ago.
Financially, the transition was rough because Interactive changed its sales model to subscriptions, which pay more gradually than the upfront service fees the software developer historically collected for setting up on-site call centers.
The changeup caused profit to plunge to $900,000 in 2012 from $14.7 million the previous year, even as revenue picked up. Profit rebounded to $9.5 million on revenue of $318.2 million in 2013, causing Wall Street to rally around Interactive’s performance.

Brown, on Thursday, balked at his company’s critics, who questioned initially whether he could build a major technology company in Indianapolis.
“Anybody who now thinks that’s not possible must be a complete idiot,” he said.

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