The Victorian government has made a “significant investment” in Zendesk to bring the global IT software giant’s Asia Pacific headquarters to the city and 175 new tech jobs along with it, in a “proud day” for Melbourne.
The partnership, the first of its kind for both Zendesk and the state government, was announced by Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and small business minister Philip Dalidakis on Monday morning.
“It’s such a confirming thing, and such a proud thing to have a company that’s on the move and that’s doing such great things around the world to look at Melbourne,” Andrews says.
“This is a very proud day.
“You can’t be the centre for innovation and new ideas unless you’ve got companies like Zendesk headquartering here. It’s a very important investment in a very competitive market.”
The newly opened office will be Zendesk’s Asia Pacific software engineering centre and will house 200 employees.
The state government’s investment will be in the form of a five-year grant, and will create a “baseline” of 175 tech jobs for the state.
Reigniting the local rivalry
While refusing to disclose just how much the investment is, Andrews says securing the headquarters from other cities was “very competitive”.
“We made sure Melbourne was up the top of the list and we won out,” he says.
“This headquarters could’ve gone to other places, but it hasn’t. It’s right here where it belongs, where it will grow and prosper.
“It’s not just other capital cities onshore. You are competing against the entire region. These investments are really very, very important.”
It’s crucial to have global players like Zendesk in Melbourne not just for the jobs, but for the culture that comes with it, Dalidakis says.
“We’re setting up the infrastructure to support the ecosystem here at home so that those people that want to stay in Melbourne can, and those that want to return to Melbourne can,” he says.
“This is so they don’t feel like they need to move offshore to see their dreams become a reality.”
Securing Zendesk’s presence is on the back of the Victorian government recently poaching Australia’s biggest tech conference from Sydney earlier this month, and will no doubt serve to further ignite the rivalry between the two cities.
During the announcement, Andrews says Victoria can be a global player in the tech industry.
“This sector is going to be another thing we can proudly state we are leading the nation, and our region, and there’s every chance we can lead the world,” he says.
“As the premier of Victoria you won’t find me ever apologising for working hard to create jobs in my state. We are very proud of what we’ve achieved and we’re very proud and optimistic about the potential of this sector.”
Innovation fund still to come
The money going to Zendesk won’t be coming from the state government’s much-anticipating $60 million innovation fund, which Dalidakis says will be announced by the end of the month.
While moves like this are focused on the big international players, he says the fund will be helping local tech talent.
“It’s not about just trying to attract overseas companies, it’s about supporting the local ecosystem, and that’s what the $60 million fund will do,” Dalidakis says.
“We can do both, we can walk and chew gum.”
“This is the first of many wonderful, exciting announcements that we’re going to be making over the next ix-12 months, and they will continue to support the Premier’s vision to drive innovation in Victoria and to support our companies at home.
“A lot of people around Australia at the moment are talking about innovation, but I’m very proud to be working with a premier who actually gets innovation, who doesn’t want to just talk about it, but wants to do it.”
Dalidakis says the innovation sector is a primary focus of the Victorian government.
“What we’re trying to do as a government in the tech sector is to support, embrace and encourage,” he says.
“To embrace the startup sector we need to make sure we’re embracing those people that are having a crack, those people that are risking everything because of their vision and their desire to grow their own business to make something not only of their business but also for the sector.”