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How One Deal Transformed Bozeman Into a Startup City With Global Aspirations RightNow Technologies is just one of the businesses finding space to grow in Big Sky Country.

By Grant Davis

This story appears in the August 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


In 2012, Oracle bought Bozeman, Mont.-based software company RightNow Technologies for $1.8 billion and single-handedly reset both locals' and outsiders' perceptions of the university town (population 40,000) and its opportunities.

When programmer Greg Gianforte moved to Bozeman 20 years ago to launch RightNow, he had a theory that he could build a successful company anywhere, thanks to the advent of the internet. He was right. That event proved to be a watershed moment for this 151-year-old city.

A handful of newly minted RightNow millionaires have spun off dozens of startups in the past couple of years and attracted talent from both coasts. Bill Clem, an industrial products and medical devices designer who graduated from Montana State University and stuck around, in 2013 formed KERBspace, a sidewalk-based smart parking meter and electronic billboard platform. Former Patagonia director Joe Walkuski came to town in 2002 to launch TEXbase, which streamlines production for clothing companies like Patagonia and Under Armour. He says things have changed since the RightNow sale. "It's harder to find good people in town," he points out. "But it's easier to get people to move here from Silicon Valley or elsewhere."

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