Largest Tech Companies in North Dakota

While North Dakota is better known for industries like agriculture and oil production, the state is also home to a number of successful technology companies. In this over 2,000 word guide, we will survey some of the largest and most influential tech firms founded or operating in North Dakota.

An Overview of Tech in North Dakota

North Dakota has not historically been considered a major tech hub in the same vein as Silicon Valley or other innovation centers across the U.S. The state‘s economy has traditionally relied more heavily on sectors like farming, oil and gas, manufacturing, and the military.

However, North Dakota has recently made strides towards fostering a startup ecosystem, particularly in its largest city of Fargo. And within the broader technology industry, North Dakota has carved out a niche with companies specializing in areas like business process outsourcing, software development, data management, and telecommunications services.

While the tech sector does not drive North Dakota‘s economy to the same extent as agriculture or energy, the state is home to some long-standing and fast-growing technology companies making waves on a national level across different specializations. In the rest of this article, we will highlight some of the largest tech firms headquartered or founded in North Dakota across both the private and public spheres.

Packet Digital – Innovator in Power Management Tech

One innovative tech company that originated in North Dakota is Packet Digital, founded in 2003 and based in Fargo. Packet Digital focuses on developing technologies for improved power management and energy savings, particularly for government and commercial applications.

As Packet Digital CEO Bruce Montgomery told Inforum, the company strives to help customers “get the most out of every watt.” Packet Digital‘s patented approach for autonomous optimization of power systems serves both private data centers as well as complex systems used in aerospace and defense settings.

Packet Digital has seen great success commercializing its innovative power management technologies. The company has raised over $4.5 million in venture funding over four rounds, according to Crunchbase. Additionally, in 2021 Packet Digital secured a $4.5 million contract from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to supply power systems for future space missions.

Ntractive – Software Innovator Now Defunct

Another North Dakota tech company that saw early success was Ntractive, founded in 2006 in Grand Forks. Ntractive developed business software solutions targeted at the medium enterprise market.

In 2008, the company received $570,000 in seed funding to develop its Elements CRM software for Mac OS X systems. This CRM app was even highlighted during an Apple keynote in 2007.

However, Ntractive was ultimately unable to build sustainability, and the company went defunct around 2016 according to information on Crunchbase and LinkedIn. The Ntractive example highlights both the potentials as well as risks associated with tech startups originating even in smaller states like North Dakota.

Prominence of Business Process Outsourcing

Many of the largest and most successful technology companies headquartered in North Dakota fall within business process outsourcing sphere. These companies manage essential business services like customer service, technical support, order processing and more on behalf of other organizations.

North Dakota‘s relatively low costs of living and doing business, strong workforce, and tax incentives have made it attractive for business process outsourcing firms. Companies like SRT Communications, Intelenet, and Razor Consulting Solutions have flourished in this niche in North Dakota, as we will explore more below.

Business process outsourcing accounts for a major subset of North Dakota‘s technology industry, though other specializations around areas like software, consulting and telecom are also well represented in the state.

Largest Tech Firms in North Dakota by Revenue

Here we look at the two largest technology companies headquartered in North Dakota based on the key metric of annual revenue.

SRT Communications – $50 Million Annual Revenue

The technology company reporting the highest annual revenues in North Dakota is SRT Communications. Founded in 1951, SRT Communications is the state‘s largest telecommunications cooperative.

As detailed on their about page, SRT Communications owns and manages 3,800 miles fiber optic network and provides broadband, business and residential internet access, computer and IT services, digital TV and phone systems to customers across North Dakota.

Based on industry profiles compiled by Zippia, SRT Communications generates approximately $50 million in annual revenue and employs around 210 people. The company cites its provisioning of modern communication infrastructure across underserved and rural areas of North Dakota as a point of pride.

Forum Communications – $61 Million Annual Revenue

Another North Dakota technology stalwart is Forum Communications, ranking as the second largest tech company in the state with estimated annual revenues of $61 million, according to Zippia data.

Forum Communications has a particularly long history, having been founded back in 1891. The company started by publishing a newspaper called the The Daily Forum. Today, Forum Communications owns 15 other print and digital publications across North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In addition to their publishing arm, Forum Communications operates over 4 television stations affiliated with ABC and FOX networks. And on the technology side, the company provides software development, web design, SEO and online advertising services. Collectively, Forum Communications employs over 1,100 across its different divisions.

Largest Private Tech Companies

The state of North Dakota is not home to any massively-sized technology corporations that dominate markets nationally. However, a look at the private sector does reveal North Dakota‘s two largest technology firms – SRT Communications and Forum Communications. Both companies focus primarily on customers within North Dakota and surrounding states across industries like telecom, construction, agriculture and more.

Though they originated over 70 years ago and maintain strong regional footprints, both SRT and Forum Communications have also embraced innovative technologies to deliver modern communication and software solutions beyond North Dakota‘s borders.

Key Takeaway: While North Dakota lags leaders like California and New York in private tech sector growth and investment, well-established regional companies like SRT and Forum Communications show the state can serve as the headquarters for nationally competitive tech-focused businesses across areas like telecom, media, construction and agriculture.

Publicly Traded Tech Companies

North Dakota has a limited number of homegrown technology companies that have gone through public offerings to trade on the stock market.

One publicly traded firm with tech components is Alerus Financial (ALRS), appearing on the NASDAQ exchange. However, Alerus is first and foremost a financial services company, providing commercial and consumer banking, mortgage lending, retirement plans and wealth management mainly to clients in the Midwest.

In terms of technology offerings, Alerus Financial designs software to assist financial advisors and wealth managers, according to Zippia profiles. So while not a pure-play tech stock, Alerus does incorporate an element of technology solution development as part of its array of financial services for businesses and consumers across the Upper Plains.

Key Takeaway: North Dakota lacks publicly-traded tech stocks headquartered locally. Regional bank Alerus Financial (ALRS) blends financial services with some technology solution development for wealth management, though not a dedicated tech business.

Lesser-Known North Dakota Tech Companies

While telecom giant SRT and media leader Forum Communications grab most of the headlines, North Dakota is also home to a number of lesser-known technology firms making an impact nationally across areas like software development, consulting, and business process management. Below we highlight three companies showcasing North Dakota‘s underrated innovation.

Intelenet America

Founded in 1999 as Upstream LLC, Intelenet America offers business process outsourcing with specialty areas around customer acquisition and service, technical support, HR process management, order processing, IT helpdesk and contact center operations.

Indian multinational company Intelenet acquired Upstream in 2007. From its North Dakota headquarters and globally delivery centers, Intelenet America today employs around 670 workers to provide outsourcing services tailored to sectors like healthcare, aviation, utilities and e-commerce, according to employee statistics from Zippia.

High Point Networks

High Point Networks provides a range of technology solutions encompassing IT infrastructure, networking, data protection, managed services, IP video surveillance and more for business customers. Based in Fargo with around 300 total employees, High Point positions itself as a single-source for technology deployment and management across cloud and on-premise systems.

On its company mission page, High Point Networks summarizes their philosophy:

"Our core purpose is to relieve the stress and difficulties that technology can bring by delivering Industry Leading Service and custom technology solutions to our clients."

Razor Consulting Solutions

Razor Consulting Solutions, founded in 2010 and headquartered in Fargo, provides specialized technology and business intelligence services tailored to public sector clients like federal and state government agencies. Razon solutions encompass areas like software development, database administration, data analytics, storage services and automation tools aimed at enhancing organizational functionality.

According to contract award records, Razor Consulting Solutions has secured over 40 contracts with federal agencies since 2017, highlighting their strength delivering innovative technology optimizations uniquely for government sector needs. Zippia lists Razor as employing around 124 workers presently.

Key Takeaway: Lesser-known players like Intelenet America, High Point Networks and Razor Consulting demonstrate North Dakota‘s IT strengths around outsourcing, network management and public sector applications – complementing the state‘s private sector leaders like SRT Communications and Forum Communications.

The Outlook for Technology and Innovation in North Dakota

While overshadowed nationally by leading tech hubs, North Dakota has demonstrated capacity fostering technology firms prepared to deliver solutions at scale across areas like outsourcing, software, infrastructure management and communications tech.

And the state appears primed for further expansion of its technology ecosystems and startup scene based on several positive indicators:

  • Business incentives – North Dakota policymakers have implemented targeted incentives like the Innovate North Dakota program to spur research at state colleges and provide startups access to seed capital. Such backings can catalyze future growth.

  • College pipeline – North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota are equipping more students with specialized tech skills to fill key vacancies at companies within the state or launch their ventures.

  • Startup growth – Business formation activity in tech hotspots like Fargo continues rising sharply year over year, pointing towards more new North Dakota-bred companies down the road.

The technology industry in North Dakota still trails leading innovation centers substantially regarding investment flows and unicorn-level startups. However, the state punches above its weight in areas like communications tech, outsourcing and public sector software. And continued momentum around startup growth and technical training pipelines suggest North Dakota‘s best tech days likely still lie ahead.

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