Company Of
The Month

Widen

History 

Widen is a 70-year-old tech company founded in Madison, WI by Arthur and Emily Widen. What started as a lead plate photo engraving shop for newspapers, grew and transformed to provide universal software solutions to the world’s most recognized brands. The company now has offices in Madison and London and is led by CEO Matthew Gonnering, who has served in the role since 2009.

Widen provides digital asset management (DAM) solutions for marketing, sales, and technology teams at companies like Yeti, Progressive, White Castle, and more, serving over 600 customers in 175 countries worldwide. From creating, organizing, and publishing content to brand control, the Widen Collective® helps manage the flow of content across the digital supply chain.

A Strategy for Continued Growth

Widen competes on a global stage with a wide range of software providers – from specialized content management vendors serving niche markets to large digital experience software companies. Widen seeks customers that are looking for a collaborative, transparent relationship in solving their problems, and believe in making a real impact through their work. These customers are found across industries - from healthcare to manufacturing - and often have more than $500M in revenue. 

Widen differentiates itself in today’s digital economy by creating impactful, measurable, and consistent brand experiences through superior customer service. Attention to detail in every facet of the customer experience, focused on propagating customer value, is their biggest driver of success. The firm prides itself on its strong reputation in this area.

Widen’s responsibility for service design is shared across all teams including research, product development, engineering, marketing, sales, and customer success. They leverage decades of innovation and years of experience to serve customers and continue to grow by providing:

  • A range of consulting and professional services tailored to each customer’s needs
  • A vibrant, connected community of customers across industries and continents
  • A corporate culture that attracts and keeps top talent at all levels of the organization

Culture

Widen’s purpose is to unlock human potential through the power of story. To do that, Widen has placed significant investment in developing high-functioning teams guided by its five core values of: 

  • Challenge today: Play offense. Irrational optimism welcomed.
  • Do what you say you will: Be accountable. To yourself, your team, our customers, our world.
  • Flourish, together: Chase passion. Pursue wellness. Be nice.
  • Be the change: Embrace chaos. Find a better way. Titles not required.
  • Service is our secret sauce: Be the best part of our customers’ day. Every day.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The culture has evolved over the decades from a traditional, top-down management system to a WorldBlu-certified, freedom-centered workplace empowering employees to be the change.The purpose of the Freedom at Work model is straightforward – to create workplace cultures that thrive on freedom with accountability rather than outdated fear and control-based organizational design and management techniques. Widen elevates organizational democracy through a decision-making framework called power to the edge, which calls for decisions to be made by employees rather than executives or owners. 

Decisions are classified as company-scale, team-scale, or individual-scale issues, and the decision process is separated into awareness, collaboration, ownership, and response. Widen rewards employees for documenting power to the edge decisions, and  is building a library of case studies based on this framework. 

Challenges and the Path Ahead

As with many firms, Widen views some of its top challenges in the obstacles and opportunities in scaling – improving communication, focusing on future structures for growth, and aligning around a shared understanding of a winning strategy. Leaders at Widen are looking to grow the business while maintaining the freedom-centered culture that has been so vital to its success thus far.

With an eye on these challenges, Widen has big plans for growth in 2020 and beyond. It plans to expand its market presence in Europe, operating out of London. Moreover, it will expand its marketing technology (martech) offerings with the launch of new products for product information management (PIM), to offer greater value to customers directly. The company also works to position its subject matter experts as thought leaders in the software solutions space in their pursuit to become the most admired company in the world.