Australia's Atmail gives Silicon Valley a miss in US expansion

Australian messaging and collaboration software provider Atmail has given Silicon Valley a miss in its expansion into the United States, instead choosing to open its first international office in Santa Monica.

Silicon Valley has been passed over by Australian messaging and collaboration software developer Atmail as it ramps up its expansion into the United States, in favour of the Californian beachside city of Santa Monica as the site for the local company's first international office.

Since its earliest days, the local tech company has made a habit of locating its operations outside of the usual technology stomping grounds, building its business from its global headquarters on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, in a place it calls "Silicon Beach", better known to locals as Peregian Beach.

In fact, Atmail's founder Ben Duncan spent most of 2009 running the platform from the back of a converted Land Rover Defender while travelling around Australia.

Now, following an AU$2 million injection of cash that it received earlier this year from Starfish Ventures, and appointing a new CEO to oversee the company's growth strategy, Atmail is finally putting down roots in the US, where it claims that more than half of its business originated.

"Historically, at least 50 percent of our business has come from the US, and that trend isn't going to change in the near future," said Atmail CEO Zach Johnson, who originally came on board as the company's COO in October last year. "In fact, we're getting some larger customers in the US who have justifiably higher expectations in terms of service."

The US launch is expected to enable Atmail to provide support and sales staff closer to the company's biggest clients.

The company, which offers on-premises and cloud-based email for major service providers, also plans to eventually open offices in other locations globally.

Johnson said the company's offices in Peregian Beach and Santa Monica are only the first of several international locations that Atmail is planning to open in the coming years.

He said that Atmail chose to open an office in Santa Monica over Silicon Valley, the traditional tech hub, in order to connect with "new types of talent". The company plans to hire five staff members initially over the financial year, with more expansion plans to follow.

"The talent pool in Los Angeles, with the explosion of its tech community, is quite attractive, and there is currently a spotlight on the area given some of the recent major acquisitions by the likes of Apple and Facebook," said Johnson.