Email marketing software firm Campaigner relocating to Westboro amid hiring spree

319 McRae Avenue
Ottawa software firm Campaigner is moving to a new office at 319 McRae Ave. to accommodate its growing workforce.

An Ottawa software producer with roots stretching back to the late 1990s is moving to a larger office closer to the downtown core as it prepares to expand its headcount in the National Capital Region by as much as 50 per cent.

Campaigner, a subscription-based email and SMS marketing platform now owned by U.S. digital media company Ziff Davis, is vacating its current headquarters on Gurdwara Road in the south end this summer. 

The operation, which has about 100 local employees, is relocating to a new office in Westboro in August. The 10,700-square-foot space is located at 319 McRae Ave., a building whose other tenants include fellow tech firm Pythian.

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Alaa Gedeon, Campaigner’s top local executive, says the organization expects to grow its Ottawa workforce about 10 per cent annually for the next three to five years as demand for its software-as-a-service products, which compete with the likes of Mailchimp, continues to rise.

“Unless we get hit with some macroeconomic issues, that’s the plan,” Gedeon told Techopia on Monday.

Launched in 1999, Campaigner was part of Protus IP Solutions, a software-as-a-service company headquartered in Ottawa that specialized in communications tools. 

Protus was acquired in 2010 by California-based digital media and technology company j2 Global Communications for $213 million. After j2 Global spun off its cloud computing business in 2021, it renamed the remaining organization after Ziff Davis, a New York digital media firm that j2 purchased in 2012.

The company, which trades on the Nasdaq exchange, reported revenues of nearly US$1.4 billion in 2023. While Ziff Davis doesn’t disclose revenues of the individual organizations under its umbrella, Gedeon said Campaigner has seen healthy growth over the past few years and expects the trend to continue.

As a U.S.-based company, Ziff Davis gets a “natural discount” when hiring employees north of the border thanks to the weaker Canadian dollar, Gedeon noted. 

That gives a market like Ottawa a distinct advantage over U.S. tech hubs where skilled workers are more expensive, he explained.

“We’re a technology company first and foremost, and I think this city has a lot of talent,” Gedeon added.

Campaigner has been on the hunt for new real estate to accommodate its growing workforce for more than a year as employees began showing up at the office more regularly after working mostly from home during the pandemic.

Like many tech firms, Campaigner responded to a widespread talent crunch during COVID by snapping up skilled workers wherever it could find them across the country. 

However, its new digs signal a shift in strategy that will now see Campaigner targeting locally based talent first while hiring remote workers “only if we need to,” explained Kevin Vaudry, the organization’s senior director of sales and marketing.

McRae Avenue features more individual offices, boardrooms and collaboration space than the firm’s current headquarters, Vaudry said. 

It’s also closer to amenities such as restaurants and outdoor patios that “incentivize people to spend a little bit more time in the office and get a little bit more of that social (interaction) while they’re working,” he added.

Vaudry said he thinks the move will go over well with most of Campaigner’s expanding contingent of Ottawa-based workers.

“We’re not going to be one of those companies that says, ‘Five days a week back in the office, no choice,’” he said. “We can acknowledge that things have changed, but our own employees are telling us that they miss being in the office.”

Gedeon said setting up shop in Westboro makes sense for the company because its relatively central location makes it a comfortable commute for most of Campaigner’s workforce.

“We didn’t want it to be only attractive to those (employees) that live in a certain part of the city,” he explained. 

“Historically, a lot of the tech companies were in Kanata. And for someone in the east end or someone more central, commuting to Kanata is not easy. We wanted to make sure the new office was accessible to different areas around the city.”

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