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Widen Celebrates 70 Years in Business

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Widen Celebrates 70 Years in Business

Founded in 1948, Widen is an anomaly in the software space: a family-owned plate engraving business that reinvented itself into a global technology company. Widen’s history demonstrates how companies can adapt and thrive through technological disruptions.

In 1948, Emily and Arthur Widen founded Widen Engraving, a company that engraved plates for newspaper presses. Under their son, Mark Widen, the company expanded into additional prepress services, evolving from plates to film negatives and color printing. In 1985, Widen invested $3 million in color scanners and Scitex equipment not realizing how soon they’d have to divest.

Widen Engraving set the tradition for the time-tested technology company.Learn more about Widen’s rich history.

In 1996, Widen, led by Mark’s son Reed, began dabbling in digital technology. The company put $4 million into digital printing services and an R&D program. In 1996, the R&D team produced Widen’s first image database system, long before anyone used the term “digital asset management.” In 1998, Widen started selling this software to customers who, increasingly, were designing and storing marketing images on computers.

By the time Matthew Gonnering joined Widen in 2000, the print era was waning. Just months earlier, Gonnering had worked for a printing company that had to close its doors. From that experience, Gonnering learned the importance of adapting, whatever the risks may be. When he was appointed CEO of Widen in 2009, software only accounted for 19 percent of revenue the year prior. Widen either had to reinvigorate the prepress business or double down on software.

“The Widen family had an appetite for risk and experimentation. They had thrived by reinventing their business multiple times,” said Gonnering. “Our team inherited that culture and recognized that Widen had to reinvent yet again. It was DAM or die.”

Widen regrouped during the recession then went on offense. Web and smartphone technologies were making digital content the center of all communications and knowledge. Widen had an edge because it created, converted, retouched, and distributed massive visual files for catalogs and packaging. Its team understood the makeup of files and the need for a centralized content hub. Now, more than 350,000 people use Widen to organize, review, approve, distribute, monitor, and archive content assets. For over 600 renowned brands, Widen’s software is a pillar in marketing technology stacks that create compelling, meaningful, and measurable experiences.

Within a decade, Widen’s business has changed radically. 75 percent of Widen’s revenue now comes from technology, and its team of software employees grew from 15 in 2009 to more than 100 in 2017. Since 2013, Widen has welcomed more than 90 new customers per year and achieved 30 percent average annual revenue growth. Widen counts 20 of Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands and dozens of the Forbes Global 2000 among its customers. Every day, Widen delivers more than 20 million pieces of content to the public and facilitates over 33,000 digital asset uploads, 100,000 downloads, and 1.1 million API calls between marketing systems. (View the 2017 DAM Data Report for more benchmarks.)

“For 70 years, we’ve helped our customers cultivate the power of expression. 70 years from now, I’m willing to bet that Widen will still help people unlock their creative potential,” said Gonnering. “I think ‘mature’ companies struggle when they try to adapt to new technology. We’ve been adapting new technology to our essential purpose and values for decades.”

In the past year, Widen has received recognition from the EContent 100, G2 Crowd, Capterra, the SIIA CODiE Awards, The Codified DAM Consultant™, Comparably, WorldBlu, and Madison Magazine. After 70 years in business, the team knows better than to rest on its laurels. “We’re just getting started,” said Gonnering.

With more than 70 years of service experience, Widen is the company that does what it says, striving to be the best part of our customers’ day, every day.

Contact us to learn more about how Widen can help you.

Topics: Culture & Company

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