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BlueCat’s Tranquil Toronto Treehouse

You can’t always get what you want. Sometimes, you get something better. And sometimes, it’s a multi-million dollar idea. For the founders of BlueCat, that’s exactly what happened.

In 1993, Michael and Richard Hyatt founded Dyadem International, a risk management software company. While researching a new DNS (domain name system), Richard created an interface that could install a server in five minutes—a fraction of the complex, expensive two-day method that was standard at the time. They took one look at what was in front of them and knew it was a business opportunity.

BlueCat was born in 2000 with both brothers at the helm. That interface became an early version of what the company offers today: trademarked DNS products that allow enterprises to manage their networks with ease.

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Headquartered in Toronto, the Hyatts didn’t start BlueCat with any venture capital or external funding. That bootstrapping mentality held until they were acquired in 2017 for $400 million by the U.S. private equity giant Madison Dearborn Partners. 

Now, while the Hyatts are no longer on the management team, they are well-known in the Canadian technology community as both investors and mentors. Michael continues to sit on the company’s board of directors, while a different Michael—Michael Harris—serves as CEO and oversees nearly 380 employees.

Today, BlueCat works with companies who want to focus on business transformation and growth. Companies like Facebook, Disney, Sony, Apple, Nike, and J.P. Morgan–to name a few.

Work

In September 2017, BlueCat moved into a new 38,000-square-foot, single floor office to house their growing team. With nearly 250 employees in Toronto alone, they wanted an open-but-functional workspace and worked alongside Interior Architects Inc. to realize their vision.

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Despite the busy office park location at Yonge and Highway 401, the BlueCat office backs onto an unassuming golf course. Not only does this provide tranquil views, it also makes the office extremely accessible for every team member. Each BlueCat works from collaborative spaces near their department leader—each with their own sit-to-stand desk. Each department–known as pods–has designated tablespaces for teamwork and white-boarding sessions, all designed to encourage better brainstorming and more innovation.

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Breakout spaces and call rooms are often used to change up work environments and find some quiet time, while the common area allows for informal meetups.

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Bluecat pulled the nature into the office with tree-themed meeting rooms like Maple, Hawthorn and Willow.

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Food

How many coffee beans do you really want to choose from in the morning? Six. Six is the correct answer for BlueCat and is the number of options at the cafe from the likes of Starbucks, Balzac’s, Pilot Roasters, and more. The 3,000 square foot café serves subsidized breakfasts and lunches with options that cater to every dietary restriction and preference. The lunch menu is the star of the show with a rotation of vendors including Z-Teca and Ma-Ro.

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The dining space is furnished with reclaimed wood tables underneath beehive-inspired drop lights.

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Fridges are kept stocked with complimentary drinks, while each team maintains their own snack table full of goodies. And, of course, the keg is always cold to help celebrate BlueCat wins. 

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The gaming lounge is central to the dining space, complete with a 60-inch television and three gaming consoles, just waiting for challengers to be called into action for some post-lunch domination.

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Culture

There’s no shortage of team spirit here. BlueCat maintains five core values, both in their culture and on the wall—collaboration, curiosity, clarity, transparency, and ownership.

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In addition to these values, new hires must also distinguish themselves with three key qualities: discovery, differentiation, and courage. Over the course of the year, twenty employees are recognized for embodying these principles.

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The balance is real at BlueCat with wellness perks like free massages, on-site flu clinics, open exercise classes, subsidized gym memberships, and a generous vacation allowance.

Every first week of April, the company hosts an annual event which sees all 100 offsite employees travel to Toronto. This is the biggest celebration of the year filled with product demos, team building, training sessions and the annual sales awards dinner honoring the top 10 sellers with a trip to an all-inclusive resort–just in case Toronto gets a little cold.

BlueCat operates a global charity called the CareCats. In 2017, the charity raised $82,000 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre through various community-centric fundraising initiatives–bake sale anyone? Other efforts include clothing drives and fundraisers for charities based in Toronto.

Education

BlueCat also gives their employees up to $1,000 each year from their own Continuing Education Fund to take programs and courses. If they don’t have that kind of time, BlueCat provides educational workshops and numerous off-topic lunch-and-learns on everything from mindful eating to financial wellness.

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Fun

Every month, BlueCat hosts an event to bring the team together and encourage social time outside of office hours. The comradery continues outside the office with the year-round soccer team, Blue Jays outings, and the annual Mud Hero and Warrior Dash obstacle challenges. Employee and Family Appreciation Day brings employee families together for complimentary day trips to places like Canada’s Wonderland.

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