Spokane Journal of Business

2nd Watch expects to add 100 jobs this year

Liberty Lake cloud company seeing triple-digit growth

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-—Kevin Blocker
2nd Watch co-founders Kris Bliesner, left, and Jeff Aden says the cloud computing company based in Liberty Lake has a client list that includes some large companies, such as Coca-Cola Co., Conde Nast, and Yamaha Corp. of America, among others.

2nd Watch Inc., a Liberty Lake-based cloud computing company and provider of Amazon Web Services, says it expects to hire 100 new employees this year as it continues to experience sharp growth. 

“Most of our clients are based on the East Coast, and we’re growing,” says Jeff Aden, executive vice president of strategic business development and marketing at 2nd Watch. “We anticipate being at 230 employees by the end of the year.”

Aden declines to disclose 2nd Watch’s annual revenue. However, the company was reported to have grown its revenues more than 1,000 percent from 2012 to 2015, a rate that earned it a ranking 0f 92nd on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list published in November.

The list recognizes the fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, and energy technology companies in North America based on percentage growth of fiscal year revenue. 2nd Watch ranked first among the 19 companies in Washington state that made the list. 

2nd Watch says it provides services to several business clients with annual revenue greater than $1 billion. The company helps large brands such as Coca-Cola Co., Conde Nast, Yamaha Corp. of America, and Lenovo Group Ltd., as well as much smaller ones, develop projects powered by the cloud, he says.

Aden co-founded 2nd Watch with chief technology officer Kris Bliesner in 2010. The two left their jobs with now defunct Ambassadors Group Inc. to start 2nd Watch.

They received early financial assistance from Spokane Angel Alliance co-founder Tom Simpson, and from some family members and friends, Aden says.

Headquartered in 11,000 square feet of space on the third floor of an office building at 2310 N. Molter in Liberty Lake, the company has 80 employees working here and a total workforce of more than 130 workers. The balance of its staff works in Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and New York, with several working remotely throughout California, Aden says.

2nd Watch employees in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and New York work mainly in office space. The company’s bigger customers, however, require 2nd Watch employees to work onsite at their respective locations, Bliesner says.

The term “cloud” refers to remote servers used to store, manage, and process data, as opposed to local, on-premises servers or computers. Cloud computing service is a utility service that’s available on demand and gives the clients access to managed technology resources.

Before cloud-based computing, a company would lease space in data centers for their servers, if not on their premises. With cloud computing, however, the company doesn’t have to purchase an expensive piece of equipment or pay to house it, Bliesner says.

Using a cloud-based system saves a company time when it wants to deploy a new online campaign or service, Bliesner says.

“We help large enterprises move applications and workloads to the cloud and then help them manage that,” Aden says.

Three years ago, Amazon had approximately 7,500 SKUs (stock keeping units), a service identification code for products. Today there are more than 45,000 products for sale on the online retailer’s website.

“With the cloud, in the early days, there really wasn’t anybody to help you. It was game changing in terms of capabilities, but there was no one out there really helping businesses to use it. That’s where we saw a real opportunity,” Bliesner says.

Aden says their timing couldn’t have been better as businesses were feeling the effects of the Great Recession and cutting staff. This, while cloud-based technology was starting to become better understood.

“What’s the cost, how do I implement it for disaster recovery, or backup or storage. Those are questions that businesses were and are still facing. The cloud enables you to do more with less, and that’s just what today’s business model has become since the recession,” Aden says.

 “When Jeff and I first started, it was the early days of (cloud) adoption, there was no enterprising public cloud in 2010 and 2011. As we started working with small- and mid-market businesses, we got invited into conversations with some of these big firms like Coca-Cola.”

“The early adopters came in the 2012, 2013, 2014 timeframe. Now we’re starting to see an acceleration going beyond the early adopters and into the mainstream,” Bliesner says. “Right now, we still feel like we’re in the early innings for cloud-based services.”

Aden says cloud-based technology is driving business unlike any other in the tech sector.

“People still look at me and go, ‘What is the cloud?’ It’s the fastest-growing technology shift ever. Companies that embrace new and cutting edge technologies are the ones that are making gains on Wall Street, the ones that aren’t are the Blockbusters (Video) of tomorrow.”

Adds Bliesner: “One of the things we hang our hat on is that we only focus on cloud. This is all we do and all we’ve ever done, and we’ve always focused on production. It’s why these big companies trust us to run their infrastructure and manage it for them. It’s really humbling to be able to do this from Liberty Lake.”

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