Greg Gianforte Outsources the Truth and Jobs, Can’t Get His Talking Point on Job Creation Straight

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Just how many jobs did Greg Gianforte create in Bozeman while he ran his company RightNow Technologies?

As often as Gianforte talks about it, you’d think he would know the answer, but in his short political career in Montana, the number of jobs he claims to have created has varied wildly from claims of as many as 1,100 jobs to as few as 500.

And that difference matters, both as a testament to his skill as a job creator and as a measure of his profound enthusiasm for outsourcing jobs.

During his 2020 campaign for governor, Gianforte is claiming that his company created 500 Montana jobs. From his campaign web site:

“They founded RightNow Technologies two decades ago in their Bozeman home, and they grew it into the town’s largest commercial employer, creating over 500 high-paying Montana jobs.

That seems to be the line right now. That’s what he told KBZK in Bozeman, the Missoula Current, and KPAX, among other news sites.

But Gianforte was peddling a different story earlier in his political career.

During his campaign announcement speech in Bozeman in January 2016, he claimed to have created 1,100 jobs in the Bozeman area:

And the thing I’ve heard over and over again is that we just don’t have enough high wage jobs. Uh, that’s my background, people that know me know that we started a small business in our home, creating 1,100 jobs in the Bozeman area. The average wage was almost $90,000 a year.”

And when he wasn’t misrepresenting the truth, Gianforte was using deliberately unclear language to make people believe he created 1,100 jobs in Montana. From his Better Montana Jobs plan in 2016:

When my wife and I started RightNow Technologies in an extra bedroom of our Bozeman home, many told us we were crazy. In 15 years we grew RightNow to more than 1,100 employees with an average Montana wage of over $86,000 per year, which is about 2 ½ times the state average. We became one of the state’s largest employers.

Given that Gianforte’s business model at RightNow Technologies was to facilitate outsourcing, perhaps he managed to confuse himself, as most jobs his business created were not in Montana, but across the country and the world. The former COO of Right Now Technologies explained in 2016:

While Gianforte is spending millions of his own fortune to tout his business credentials, he should be clear with Montanans about RightNow Technologies’ business model. The purpose of our business was to cut costs for companies, by eliminating and outsourcing jobs overseas with technology solutions for customer service. In conversations with RightNow investors, Gianforte explained one of the biggest drivers in our business has been the movement toward outsourcing. In fact, Forbes Magazine actually praised RightNow for “taking the concept of outsourcing to new levels.” And while it’s true we had approximately 500 employees in Montana, we had another 700 employees in other states and countries as well as outsourced jobs in Armenia and India. This was a very successful business model and produced profits for our owners, including Gianforte and myself, but it just doesn’t provide a model for governing our state.

And that outsourcing continued when Gianforte cashed out and sold his company to Oracle. From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 2016:

Oracle, the $100-billion computer technology corporation, told Bozeman employees Wednesday that more than 100 positions were being moved to San Antonio, Texas.

Contacted by the Chronicle, Oracle wouldn’t say specifically how many jobs would be affected, but multiple sources with ties to the company said more than 100 employees in the Bozeman cloud deal management office would be out.

“As soon as we walked in, they told us to shut off our cellphones,” said one employee who spoke to the Chronicle on the condition of anonymity. “None of our management was there. There were three gentlemen in suits we had never seen before who had flown up from San Antonio.”

It would seem Oracle was simply following Gianforte’s lead. As early as 2002, Gianforte told the Montana Legislature that he was outsourcing high-paying jobs from Montana to Texas because executives he was paying $300,000 a year simply couldn’t afford to pay taxes in Montana.

That’s the real Greg Gianforte job creation story once you cut through the obfuscation and misdirection: a company that represented fewer than 1/1000 of the jobs in the state, built on facilitating corporate outsourcing, and outsourcing jobs to places like Texas and Armenia to avoid paying Montana taxes.

And that’s not the kind of business leadership Montana needs.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

6 Comments

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  • Gianforte, as a far-right ideologue, has always denigrated and whined about “big government” and how wicked it is. Yet, prior to selling his company to Oracle, public records showed that 17% of the company’s revenue came from ……. government contracts.

    It seems that the only aspects of “big government” that really bother him are the ones that actually help people.

  • So how many have Jon Tester or Steve Bullock employed? Oh, that’s right they are career politicians. Vote for them or they can’t pay their property tax like Schumer and Pelosi. Thanks to Jon and Steve for all your entrepreneurial endeavors tax dollars that they have contributed to the state.

    • @markie – So………how much has Gianforte paid in taxes? Anything? Didn’t he & Daines just vote for the trumpsky tax scam that gave them even more breaks and loopholes?

      It’s called “socialize the risks and privatize the profits.”

        • @markie – I suspect that I’ve paid more in taxes over the years than you ever received in pay. People like you are, almost literally, a dime a dozen.

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