Squarespace picks downtown Portland office with room to grow

By Mike Rogoway | 
on August 21, 2014 at 7:01 AM, updated August 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Squarespace, the New York website builder that opened a Portland office last spring, has leased space in the Spalding Building downtown, where it will have room for at least 150 – with an option to lease additional space.

Hiring rapidly, Squarespace's Portland work force has grown to 50 just six months after it arrived. Those workers are currently in temporary quarters leased from the Portland Development Commission in the agency's Old Town building.

The Spalding Building is at Southwest Third and Washington. It's an early 20th Century structure that underwent a big renovation two years ago. Squarespace has leased more than 20,000 square feet.

Chief operating officer Jesse Hertzberg said the company has been hiring eight people every three weeks, training them in small classes to help Squarespace clients with a variety of issues such as website domain management. Increasingly, Hertzberg said, customer service reps are being called on to help people figure out how their websites should look.

"That's changing our hiring profile a little bit," he said, as the company recruits artists, photographers and others with a "creative class" pedigree and visual sensibility.

"That's one of the reasons we're here," he said.

Squarespace scouted locations across the West before picking Portland for its customer service outpost, choosing it for cultural fit and because operating and labor costs are lower than in Seattle.

The company's Portland hiring spree will continue indefinitely, Hertzberg said, pausing around the holidays but then proceeding so long as Squarespace's growth requires additional customer support personnel.

Squarespace hasn't reported what it's paying its Portland staff, but customer service workers typically earn much less than software developers, who are in huge demand in Portland and in other tech hubs. Customer service jobs in the Portland area pay an average of about $37,000 annually, according to stage wage data, though tech work tends toward the high end of a range that tops out at $52,000.

Privately held Squarespace, which raised a $40 million investment in April to help finance its growth, is one of several big tech companies that have established substantial Portland outposts in the past few years. Others include eBay, New Relic and Airbnb, which now employs roughly 200 at its own Portland customer service outpost.

These outposts, along with rapidly expanding homegrown tech companies such as Puppet Labs and Jama Software, are gobbling up prime office space across downtown.