Betting on a Return to Offices, HelloOffice Raises $20M Series A

Predictions of a working lifetime spent on Zoom meetings in yoga pants and not commuting to the office may be premature, at least according to HelloOffice and its investors. Wednesday the company announced a $20 million Series A round of financing to fund the growth of the technology-powered commercial real estate brokerage.


Justin Bedecarre is the CEO of HelloOffice.

The company, which started in San Francisco in 2016 and expanded to Los Angeles last year, has raised a total of $27 million and now plans to expand to other markets. It's betting tech startups will still want to rent office space and that offices will need to be bigger, partly because workers will need to be more spread out and workplace will be more focused on gathering people together, rather than merely seating them behind desks.

"Offices are really going to be built around what they're meant to be built around, which is collaboration," said Justin Bedecarre, CEO of HelloOffice. "In the short term, square footage per person is going to go way up."

Point 72 Ventures led the investment round with participation from existing investors Initialized Capital, Founders Fund, SaaStr, House Fund, and Jake Gibson.

"We are focused on creating new product offerings to help companies find their optimal workplace solution and, in many cases, work with companies transitioning to hybrid workplaces," Bedecarre said.

Nearly half of employees would like to keep working from home and more than 45% say their employers are actively considering or at least open to that option, according to an April survey of more than 1200 workers by getAbstract, an online business library. But many jobs cannot be entirely done at home. A recent study by the University of Chicago found only a third of work could be remote, though many have been surprised at how productive remote workers have been during the pandemic.

"Everybody's getting used to the work at home," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in April. "In some areas of the company people may be even more productive, in some other areas they're not as productive. So it's mixed, depending upon what the roles are."

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Fred Turner, the 25-year-old founder of Curative Inc., is the man behind L.A.'s push to bring universal testing to the region. But, he has bigger plans.

Turner, an Oxford dropout, just landed a deal with the Air Force to test military worldwide and he's now eyeing national expansion for his startup. By the end of this month, the company he started months ago is expected to pump out more than a million test kits a week.

"We are a strange company because our goal is to essentially put ourselves out of business," Turner said.

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Last Friday morning, 406 Bird employees – who had been working from home for two weeks because of the coronavirus and bleary-eyed from putting in longer than usual days in an unprecedented effort to rapidly wind down global operations in cities around the world – received a generic-sounding Zoom webinar invitation titled "COVID-19 Update."

Travis VanderZanden, 41, a former top Uber executive who founded Bird only three years ago, had abruptly cancelled the previous Thursday's regular biweekly all-hands meeting, referred to internally as Birdfams. He had not addressed Bird's thousand-plus employees since they were forced to leave their offices, so most employees assumed he was giving an update on the company's response to the worsening global pandemic.

But some grew suspicious when they noticed the guest list and host were hidden and they learned only some colleagues were included. It was also unusual they were being invited to a Zoom webinar, allowing no participation, rather than the free-flowing meeting function the company normally uses. Over the next hour, employees traded frantic messages on Slack and searched coworkers' calendars to see who was unfortunate enough to be invited.

"It should go down as a poster child of how not to lay people off, especially at a time like this," said one employee.

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