Syracuse Online Giant, TCGPlayer, Plans for 200 Hires

With a $10 million growth investment and plans to headquarter downtown, TCGplayer.com is making Syracuse a place where technology professionals want to learn, work, and live.

By Bethany Bourgault

Just three months after Syracuse-based online gaming giant TCGplayer.com received a $10 million growth investment, the company’s CEO and Founder Chedy Hampson has already begun making waves. A new location, 200 new hires in the next five years, and his commitment to developing the community are positioning TCGplayer to revolutionize the way we think about technology and downtown Syracuse.

TCGplayer.com began as an online magazine – a go-to informational site on fandoms, online games and comics – relying on ad sales to keep itself in business.

“Ecommerce was never in the original plan,” said Hampson.

By the mid-2000s, though, newer advertising models put a major strain on Hampson’s bottom line. Selling ads barely covered the cost of the development team they took to manage, and subscriptions weren’t helping. The company suffered huge losses. That’s when Hampson looked to ecommerce.

“It was turn it live or go out of business within 30 days,” he said.

Turn it live he did, and TCGplayer started to soar.

Processing credit cards required developers. Building fraud protection required computer scientists. Handling customers required service personnel.

At the time, Syracuse was hardly a destination for technology professionals – all of Hampson’s engineers worked remotely. He worried that a tech firm wouldn’t be able to make it in Syracuse.

TCGplayer was on a track to change that.

Chedy Hampson, Founder & CEO, TCGplayer

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The company moved into its first office in Syracuse’s State Tower building in 2014. At the time, Hampson had eight employees. By July of 2016, TCGplayer moved into the AXA Towers with 113 employees, and then into 318 S. Clinton Street in January of 2017 with 140.

Today, TCGplayer employs 217 people, again, with plans to create 200 more jobs over the next several years.  

Hampson says part of this expansion is thanks to the recent $10 million growth investment TCGplayer received from NYC-based investment firm, Radian Capital. Hampson called it, “The largest investment of this kind Syracuse has ever had.”

“It immediately changed the way we structured the company,” he added.

Hampson reorganized the group into a several departments to better serve TCGplayer’s business lines. He also started seeking and developing leaders.

“It’s not just the ability to do good work, but the ability to help others do good work,” Hampson said.

This, he hopes, will position TCGplayer to efficiently handle all the new employees the company will soon take on.

Radian Capital’s investment goes far beyond providing the cash TCGplayer needs to expand its team. Radian connects Hampson with a variety of CEO’s and tech leaders from across the country – allowing him to learn from top executives that were previously out of reach. He can ask them how they dealt with the growth-related issues his company now must face, and how they capitalized on change to make the most of it.

“They give you the courage and confidence to start that initiative, hire that team,” Hampson said.

Changing the Face of Downtown Syracuse

This fall, the company will move into yet another new home at the Galleries of Syracuse.

By then, TCGplayer will have more than 250 employees.

Hampson believe a tech firm of this size moving into downtown Syracuse will drastically impact the city’s economy. Not just in the sheer number of people it will bring, but in the confidence it will inspire in other companies to do the same.

“My hope is that we’re leading a movement of people continuously hearing about technology companies in Syracuse,” he said. “I’m hoping that enough of us start to get noticed as a group, so that people start to consider relocating here.”

Hampson wants to see more tech companies set up shop in Syracuse. He wants more engineers and technology professionals to see the city as a place they’d enjoy both living and working in, and he wants Syracuse to then have the companies available to make that a reality.

Hampson also wants to draw in more young professionals.

“We’re just on the cusp of being able to work with interns,” he said. “We want to have mentorship here that can actually allow them to stay in Syracuse… It’s not just about senior level people moving to Syracuse, it’s also about the youth getting a job and staying here after college.”

As the city of Syracuse looks forward to seeing TCGplayer’s new headquarters, Chedy Hampson is looking forward to his company’s third decade. TCGplayer turns 20 in 2019.

“We’re building a really incredible company,” he said. “I think it’s going to dynamically change the way people think about downtown.”

Learn from more top CEOs like Chedy Hampson on Tuesday, October 2 at the 2018 Upstate Unleashed Conference featuring Netflix Co-founder Marc Randolph! Early-bird tickets available: 2018Unleashed.eventbrite.com

2018 Unleashed Conference

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