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Jobs Watch: Jive Talkin'

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Ben Jacklet
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
My conference call with two Jive Software executives on Monday was quite a workout. It isn’t easy to type in time with people so excited about their prospects that they can barely complete a sentence without flinging out phrases like “ awesome growth trajectory,” “totally stoked” and (avert your eyes now) “kicking ass and taking names.”

Fortunately, there’s substance behind the bluster. Jive, which is headquartered in Palo Alto but keeps a major presence in downtown Portland, has hired 100 people over the past year and has scored a $30 million investment from the same pair of Silicon Valley firms that backed Google. Expect an IPO over the next year, and plenty of hype about “magic quadrants” and “momentum in the space” between now and then.

Jive first took off in New York in 2001, but founders Bill Lynch and Matt Tucker brought the company to Portland shortly thereafter to grow it into a leader in social networking software for businesses. The founders and their early hires created a great technology platform and a notoriously lively workplace, but they never revved up the growth engines sufficiently to go public.

That has changed. Over the past few years, fast-talking California tech/IPO veterans gradually have taken leadership of the company, culminating with the move of headquarters from Portland to Palo Alto in May. CEO Dave Hersh was replaced with Tony Zingale, who built Mercury Interactive into a billion-dollar company before engineering a $5 billion merger with Hewlett Packard. Other recent hires include executives from Cisco and Webtrends.

In addition to the new headquarters in California, Jive is also growing its office in Boulder, Colorado following the January purchase of Filtrbox, a social media monitoring company. The 100 new hires from last year were split fairly evenly between the California, Colorado and Portland offices, executives say. Jive’s Portland office at the Federal Reserve Building is humming with a new floor being built out and about a dozen hires over the past few months. More hiring is expected soon as Jive accelerates for a probable 2011 IPO.

Sequoia Capital had already invested $27 million in Jive, and is now partnering with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on the new $30 million deal. Sequoia and KFCB have backed some of the biggest tech companies of the past two decades, including Amazon, Apple and Google.

“You don’t get these types of firms to write these types of checks unless you’ve got something really special to offer,” says Jive CFO Bryan LaBlanc.

“We’re the fastest growing and most innovative independent company in our space,” adds Christopher Lockhead, Jive’s Chief of Strategy.

Let the hype begin.

Ben Jacklet is managing editor of Oregon Business.
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