When Blackbaud Inc. moved its corporate headquarters to Daniel Island 18 years ago, that area of the city was still mostly undeveloped - still too young to have seen even its first buildings grow old.
The technology company’s original headquarters aren’t that, exactly. They’re modern by standards of Charleston architecture, built around a bright atrium with ground-level palm trees.
But the firm is on the move again this month to a nearby address that’s more modern still. Blackbaud’s new corporate digs feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a full-service coffee shop and break rooms with kombucha and cold brew on tap.
The new 172,000-square-foot headquarters building is opening at a time of steady and robust growth for Blackbaud, already the Lowcountry’s largest tech firm. The company employs some 3,300 workers - about half of them locally - after roughly doubling its payroll over the last decade.
It has vowed to sustain that growth, promising 300 more local jobs in the next five years. By then, it plans to build yet another new building, filling out an emerging corporate campus on Fairchild Drive. Until then, some staffers will remain in the older, nearby Daniel Island Drive offices.
Blackbaud was founded 37 years ago to develop software for nonprofits, an enormous niche that has given it room to expand decades later. The company turned $788 million in sales last year, an 8 percent increase from 2016. And it pocketed nearly $66 million in earnings, up 59 percent.
Its stock has benefited as well: Blackbaud shares have more than tripled in the last five years, boosting the company’s valuation to $5 billion. That has put Blackbaud in the running to become South Carolina’s highest-valued public company.
The growth owes to a new business model of selling subscriptions to its fundraising software instead of one-off licenses. And Blackbaud has postured itself to elbow into new corners of the nonprofit industry, like colleges and private schools.
“We are really looking at how we can become a one-stop provider in these verticals,” said Catherine LaCour, Blackbaud’s chief marketing officer. “This is actually a very big market that needs to be served by a software company that’s focused on innovation, security and on ways to help them get the biggest impact for what is often limited dollars.”
Its new campus is meant to give the company room to run and grow. The complex is expected to reach 360,000 square feet in all.
That would make it one of the largest office complexes in the region, a far cry from Daniel Island’s early days.
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