As you approach the entrance to Axon’s new Seattle office, it feels like you’re walking into a spaceship meant for a Star Wars movie — and that’s exactly the feeling the company is going for.
Axon, a business unit of smart weapon-maker Taser, just opened its new office in downtown Seattle that houses more than 50 employees who are developing a cloud-based service and wearable cameras used by police departments across the country.
We had a chance on Thursday afternoon to tour the new space, where employees, police officers, politicians, investors, and even Stormtroopers helped celebrate the launch of the new space.
“You may have noticed the slightly dramatic portal,” said Taser founder and CEO Rick Smith. “We want our employees everyday to think that’s a portal to the future — one we are creating here.”
Smith started Taser back in 1993 after he had two friends shot and killed while living in Europe. He was appalled with the violence and came back to the U.S. wanting to do something about it.
“We’re not doing happy, fun things with technology — we are going into dark corners of society where bad things happen and making it better,” Smith said.
Taser sells high-tech tasers, which Smith said are the “most prominently-used weapon in law enforcement” that have helped saved around 150,000 people from death or serious injury.
Since starting out more than two decades, ago, Taser expanded its product line to include body-worn cameras for police and the accompanying back-end cloud-based processing technology, both of which Axon is responsible for developing and managing.
“Our goal with Axon is to create a set of connected technology that creates safer communities,” Axon general manager Marcus Womack said on Thursday. “Ultimately our goal is to use the cloud, wearables, and mobile technology to evolve the digital officer and the digital officer experience on the street.”
Womack, a former Microsoft manager who sold Familiar.com to Evidence.com (another unit of Taser) in 2013, noted that Axon posted 170 percent year-over-year revenue growth and processes a new file every 2.9 seconds. Axon works with more than 5,000 agencies across the globe, with customers in the UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and more.
Smith added that Taser picked Seattle for its Axon headquarters because of the engineering talent in a city where you can build long-lasting companies.
“We looked a lot of places, but it boiled down to San Francisco and Seattle,” he explained. “Seattle was just more stable, and the Bay Area was too crazy. If you want to build something and flip it, the Bay Area feels like a better place to be. If you want to build something that’s going to sustain over a long time, Seattle just felt like a better place — and the longer we are here, the more confident we are that we made the right decision.”
The space itself, located on the 13th floor of the Metropolitan Park West towers, features conference rooms named after famous technologists and innovators, as well as futuristic pods for people to do work in.
Axon said it will bring on another 50 employees over the next 12-to-18 months. Check out more photos of the space below: