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The Oregonian

September 16, 2015 View Original Article

Squarespace is on the move, internationally and in Portland: Top Workplaces 2015

Squarespace is making moves.

The New York-based website builder has expanded to Portland, raised $40 million in investment and added tools such as logo design and integration with Google Apps and Getty Images since the beginning of 2014.

But the company's Portland arm is actually moving, too. Squarespace's nearly 140 employees here will relocate at the end of October from temporary space in Old Town to a more permanent outpost in the downtown Spalding Building.

Expect the shifting to continue. Founder and chief executive Anthony Casalena told The Oregonian/Oregonlive that more services are coming to the Squarespace suite and that more employees will likely be hired in Portland.

Elise Arnett, who runs the Portland office, said she can now focus on customer-service operations after a period of quickly scaling up employment. Many of the hires reflect one of the reasons Casalena said Squarespace came here: Portland's reputation as a creative, do-it-yourself city.

"Our move to Portland has been great for the company," said Arnett, a Portland-area native who spent nine years working for Yahoo before joining Squarespace.

Rank-and-file employees don't seem to mind, either.

Kristy Abero doesn't fit the techie profile. She grew up in the metro area and majored in art history, with a minor in French, at Portland State University. After that, she spent five years working various jobs. She has experience in retail, in the nonprofit sector, as a yoga instructor and giving swimming lessons.

"I was looking for a place where I could get new skills... and have room for growth," Abero said.

Before Squarespace arrived here in June of 2014, Abero was a Squarespace customer. She uses the platform to design and host her lifestyle blog, Dazzleful Life, which she calls her "own private place that's very public."

Arnett said most of the company's Portland hires "had either heard of Squarespace or had used our product."

That helps the employees relate to customers who need help troubleshooting or building their websites. Squarespace's Portland operation is focused on customer service. Employees live-chat with users, ranging from business owners to photographers to musicians, helping them solve problems.

"We are a well-oiled machine here when it comes to customer operations," Arnett said.

Now that employment has scaled up, Arnett has been able to place employees – she estimated their median age between 26 and 28 – into more specialized roles. Abero works as a commerce specialist, helping merchants build online stores. One customer, she said, sold "mustache protectors" that guard facial hair against the foam from beer.

Casalena said that when Squarespace was scouting for West Coast locations – the company wanted a mirror of its customer-service location in Dublin, Ireland, to maximize its coverage of time zones – "we liked Portland because of the creative energy."

"The vibe kind of fit with the ethos of the company," he said.

Nick Cummings, also a Portland-area native, graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and some experience in computer science. He moved to Austin to pursue a career in tech and ended up working in customer support at Facebook. After three years there, he spent a year freelancing in Seattle before deciding to come home.

"This was at the top of my list of companies," Cummings said of Squarespace. As a design and development specialist, he helps customers with advanced technical troubleshooting.

At Squarespace, Cummings said, executives and managers actually listen to those they lead.

"There's a real deliberate effort here to build a culture that we all participate in," Cummings said.