The sign is up, the furniture in and the rest of the building is nearly completed.
Calabrio, the Minneapolis provider of software and services for the customer-service operations of numerous types of businesses, is now at a physical turning point just months after the makeover of its core product and closing on its biggest acquisition.
The company’s nearly 400 local employees will move in coming days to a newly built office tower on N. 5th Avenue in the North Loop. To help mark the move and to map out the future, Calabrio is flying its other 250 employees from around the world to a week of meetings, dinners and parties.
“It’s going to be a nice mix of celebrating and getting to know each other,” Tom Goodmanson, the company’s chief executive, said during a tour of the new office last week.
Earlier this year, Calabrio purchased Teleopti, a Swedish developer of software for workplace management, to further round out its main product with employee scheduling and other features.
“We’re four months into integration and it’s going wonderfully. But seeing people face to face, having group meetings and functional meetings is going to be fantastic,” Goodmanson said.
The company formed in 2007 as a spinoff from Spanlink Communications, a developer of phone and computer systems for call centers. Spanlink, which was later acquired by ConvergeOne of Eagan, had a hardware focus. As a stand-alone firm, Calabrio became free to sell its software to firms that weren’t using Spanlink’s systems.
In 2016, KKR, the New York-based investment firm, bought majority control of Calabrio from two Minnesota investment firms, Split Rock Partners of Eden Prairie and BlueStream Ventures of Stillwater. KKR raised its investment in Calabrio by an undisclosed amount. Under KKR, Calabrio also acquired Vancouver-based Symmetrics, which added some analytics and business intelligence features to its software offerings.
In early April, Calabrio released a major update of its main product, Calabrio One, that changed its look and incorporated more real-time analysis of an interaction between a customer and a company’s service agent. The software automatically transcribes a call, for instance, and prompts an agent on responses and actions.
Within Calabrio, the update marks the culmination of its turn into a software-as-a-service company, with most of its customers accessing the product from a cloud service rather than it being installed in servers and PCs in an office. Development of Calabrio One also turned into a constant process that is more like publishing a daily newspaper than a yearly catalog. Updates are made frequently rather than on a timetable that could stretch for months and that were marked by a number coming after a dot.
“This was our release where we really embraced the entire continuous delivery model,” Goodmanson said. “In the old days, you did all the ‘dot’ releases. Today, it’s every week that stuff comes out. Some major changes, some minor, hot fixes. … Developers are in much closer contact. It’s an amoebic-like state as they’re constantly flowing in changes.”
He said programmers find the process more satisfying, in part because they see a faster outcome to their work. “They feel part of the system and the product rather than ‘OK here’s this stuff we’ve been working on for a year, boom,’ ” he said.
The company’s new office will put more developers in sight of one another. It will also provide a studio and other facilities for a production crew that’s responsible for creating videos that teach people who work in call centers how to use Calabrio One. “Our video production is through the roof as it is. This will be at another level,” Goodmanson said.
But last week, he still had to navigate around paint buckets, cable spools and toolboxes in the new office, which takes the top four floors of a 10-story building designed by Swervo Development. Outside, crews poured cement for a sidewalk. The company put a sign on the roof earlier this month, becoming the second tech name in lights in the North Loop after Amazon.
The building has that old-but-new look that’s become characteristic of offices in the North Loop. Arched windows line the top floor. On one side of that floor, Calabrio set aside a sizable amount of space for its customers, who send their own developers in to be trained or to customize its products.
On the other side, the company’s break area and mini-restaurant opens to a deck with a view toward downtown Minneapolis and Target Field. That room operates on a separate climate system, Goodmanson noted, so that the walls can be opened up and fresh air let in.