Fair Isaac moving its HQ back to California

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 4, 2013 - 8:29 PM

Credit-score firm will keep 275 workers in new Roseville offices.

Credit score pioneer Fair Isaac Corp. is moving its corporate headquarters from the Twin Cities back to California, where the company was born.

Fair Isaac -- known by its brand FICO -- just moved into new offices in Roseville. But the company confirmed Friday that it is shifting its headquarters to San Jose, saying it wants to be close to technology talent as it pursues "big data" analytics products.

"The new headquarters will serve as an innovation and development hub in the heart of Silicon Valley, enabling the company to continue to take advantage of technology innovations in big data and cloud computing, and draw from the region's deep technology talent pool," the company said in a news release Friday.

The company said the change won't affect the Roseville office, where it has 275 employees.

The relocation comes as little surprise. Rumors about a potential move have circulated for some time as the company's center of gravity shifted to California. The company's new president and CEO, William Lansing, and other executives are based in San Jose, where FICO has about 90 of its 2,300 worldwide employees. The company also has facilities in San Rafael, 15 miles north of San Francisco, and in San Diego.

"Makes sense since they all live there," Barclays Capital analyst Manav Patnaik said via e-mail.

The director of economic development for the city of San Jose said no incentives were offered for FICO to relocate. Gita Sitaramiah, spokeswoman for Greater MSP, the new public-private Twin Cities economic development group that has business retention as a focus, said she was unaware of an organized effort to persuade FICO to keep its executive offices in the area.

"It's disappointing to see this sort of move," Sitaramiah said.

It's a round trip for Fair Isaac. In 2004, the analytics company moved its headquarters from San Rafael to Minneapolis after Thomas Grudnowski became president and CEO.

Grudnowski and other top executives at the time lived in the Twin Cities, where the company already had a presence after acquiring direct-marketing company DynaMark in Arden Hills in 1992.

The Twin Cities workforce has shrunk over the years, but spokesman Kate Blatt said Friday that the headquarters move won't affect the Roseville office.

FICO just moved to Roseville in December, consolidating its workforce from Minneapolis and Arden Hills. "There's no plans to close the Roseville office," Blatt said. "We're there to stay."

Jim Wehmann, head of the company's credit scoring group who joined the company last year, is based in Roseville, although his team is spread between here and California.

In an interview, Wehmann said the relocation was understandable and "there's no dishonor."

"I'm a Minnesota native and a big booster and feel very strongly about the local market," Wehmann said. "I've had good luck hiring technical people and marketing people. ... We'll continue to do that."

In the news release, CEO Lansing said FICO views the move as a homecoming.

"Operating from our base in Silicon Valley, we can more readily build upon our company's deep talent pool, collaborate with other big thinkers in the world's premier technology hub, and provide our customers worldwide with powerful innovations that will help them compete more effectively in the era of big data."

FICO was founded as Fair, Isaac in 1956 by engineer Bill Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac, who met while working at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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