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Cambridge's Loss Is Marlborough's Gain

Auguest 4, 2009 – A lot more space and better access to workers has drawn software-maker Bitstream Inc. to Marlborough.

By Sept. 1 Bitstream will have left its nice but cramped and expensive space in Cambridge for twice the space in the Marlborough Technology Park on Nickerson Road near Route 20, for the same price it was paying in the Hub.

“City real estate is expensive and continues to go up in price,” said Anna Chagnon, Bitstream’s president and CEO. Bitstream is a software development company that focuses on browsing, font and publishing technologies.

Chagnon added that it’s important for Bitstream to use its money wisely, so it began searching outside of Cambridge and liked what it saw in Marlborough.

“We’re managing this company for financial stability and we have to look at all costs,” she said.

Financially, the company has been hit by the economic turmoil. It reported about $5 million in revenues during the first quarter, a drop of 22 percent from the same period a year earlier. It came out of the quarter with a $153,000 loss, down from a $659,000 profit in 2008.

Space Plan

Despite the decline in revenues, Chagnon said the company is still “on a growth curve” which necessitates more room. The company’s Cambridge office is about half the size of its new space in Marlborough, which totals more than 26,000 square feet.

The company’s growth will likely be driven by its newest product, a web browser for mobile devices called Bolt.

In February, Bitstream released Bolt in beta, or test form, free on its web site. By late June there had been 1 million downloads of the software. There will be other new editions of existing products as well, she said.

And more products means hiring more software engineers.

“We’ve found in recruiting people, many of them don’t want to come all the way into Cambridge. So we decided to look out toward Route 128 and 495 to increase our recruitment success,” Chagnon said.

Bitstream is 25 years old and when it first started, Cambridge had a lot of software and computer companies. Over the last 15 years those companies began migrating out to the suburbs and now it is more of a biotech location, she said.

There are 65 employees that are part of the company’s Cambridge office.

Bitstream will be in some pretty nice space when they relocate.

The Marlborough Technology Park has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation under its owners, Normandy Real Estate Partners, based in Boston. In 2007, it announced it would make over the seven, two-story buildings in the complex. The park has a total of 573,576 square feet of office and lab space, and has two more lots where an additional 270,000 square feet of space could be built.

Bitstream has another 35 employees at a software development office in India and and at sales offices elswhere around the world.

“It’s good to see that the investments it made are paying off for Normandy,” said Tom Wellen, executive director of Marlborough 2010, the city’s quasi-public economic arm.

“Companies like Bitstream have got to be looking this way because getting in and out of Cambridge and Boston is getting tougher and tougher,” Wellen said.

This article originally appeared here