In pursuit of air mobility, Voom’s Seattle office blazes a trail for working remotely

In pursuit of air mobility, Voom’s Seattle office blazes a trail for working remotely

3:39am, 31st July, 2019
Voom, a subsidiary of Airbus, offers on-demand helicopter booking services in Brazil and Mexico. (Airbus Photo) Add the Airbus subsidiary to the — and to the list of pioneers in co-located and distributed workplaces. Both of those talking points are highlighted in a on working remotely, written last month by Robert Head, a senior software engineer at Voom. The posting was brought to light today by the . The California-based startup has been offering its app-based, on-demand helicopter taxi service in Mexico City and São Paulo, and last month it in league with . In his blog posting, Head, who works remotely from Ashland, Ore., talked about software development rather than flight plans. “When Voom decided to grow our own internal team of developers, we chose to locate the office not in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, but rather in Seattle, which has a similarly booming technology scene and an ecosystem of great talent,” he wrote. Today LinkedIn , and the company’s careers webpage has, including a spot for a vice president of engineering. But the point of Head’s posting wasn’t how Voom conducts its operations in Seattle. Instead, he focused on how the Seattle office serves as a springboard for a far more widely dispersed team. “For the first year, all new hires were local to the Seattle office and the rest of the team was ‘on the big screen,’ as we say,” Head wrote. “After a year, recruiting was getting tougher and we were at a crossroads. We knew we wanted access to a wider, more diverse range of experienced colleagues, but it’s tough to find that within one city.” Voom’s solution was to go to a blended pair programming model, facilitated by screen-sharing and videoconferencing. Co-workers can pop into a virtual shared space and pair up with colleagues. “A good pairing session gets into a rhythm, a give and take,” Head said. “In typical pairing terminology, one person is ‘driving’ (using the mouse and keyboard) and the other is ‘navigating’—holding mental context, noticing opportunities, making suggestions. It’s important to a healthy, egalitarian environment that these roles are switched frequently.” Thanks to pair programming, Voom no longer limits its job pool to local hires, Head said. Additional details about the workplace model are laid out in , and on . Does Voom’s Seattle presence suggest that its helicopter ride-hailing service will be swooping in anytime soon? We didn’t immediately get an answer to that question from Head or from Voom’s HQ in San Francisco when we contacted them, but we’ll update this item with anything substantive we hear back. In the meantime, it’s worth considering that a lot of companies tap the Seattle area’s software engineering talent even though they put their products and services through real-world tests elsewhere. , which is working on ride-hailing services that make use of self-driving cars, serves as a good example. Even though LinkedIn as working in the Seattle area, and has here, the company says it has no immediate plans to test-drive its cars in the Emerald City. For now, you’ll have to travel to San Francisco, Phoenix or Detroit to see Cruise’s cars in action. And unless we hear differently, you’ll have to go to Mexico City, São Paulo or maybe San Francisco to see the results of the paired programming work that Voom is doing in Seattle.
Fast-growing sales tech startup Highspot leases big Seattle waterfront office with room for 800 people

Fast-growing sales tech startup Highspot leases big Seattle waterfront office with room for 800 people

5:59pm, 7th May, 2019
The World Trade Center East building. (Highspot Photo) will soon have a new spot to call home. The startup that builds artificial intelligence-powered sales software has leased two floors with options to take more at the World Trade Center East building near the Seattle waterfront. The 55,000-square-foot space, which will be ready around the end of the year, will have room for roughly 450 people. Highspot CEO Robert Wahbe. (Highspot Photo) Today, Highspot has about 200 employees and expects to hit 300 when it moves into the space. The company will hold on to its existing offices in Seattle, giving it a total footprint of more than 90,000 square feet and capacity for roughly 800 employees. Robert Wahbe, co-founder and CEO of Highspot, said the company is experiencing explosive growth in revenue and other key business metrics, and it is hiring fast to keep up. “We are growing more than 100 percent per year across all the normal business metrics and growing more than 100 percent in our headcount,” Wahbe said. “Given how competitive the environment is we are very focused on attracting and developing world-class people.” Last year, Highspot landed a to power its rapid growth. The company has raised more than $64 million in its lifetime. Wahbe called his company the fastest-growing tech startup with fewer than 1,000 employees in the area. He came to that conclusion by looking at headcount growth numbers on LinkedIn of companies in the index of the top Pacific Northwest startups. Highspot’s customer base is growing 300 percent year-over-year, Wahbe told GeekWire last year, adding to a big-name stable of customers that includes Amazon, Dropbox, Uber, Lyft Twitter, Zillow, Airbnb and SAP. A finalist for at the 2019 GeekWire Awards, Highspot equips sales teams with artificial intelligence-infused technology to improve how they have conversations with prospective buyers. Its “sales enablement platform” is a sales playbook of sorts, analyzing hoards of internally-produced information — historical data; marketing presentations; case studies; data sheets, etc. — and then applying AI to optimize the selling process. Highspot also provides communication and analytics tools with a goal of helping marketing and sales teams better collaborate. Highspot’s future office space. (Highspot Photo) The concept of bringing sales and marketing teams together has been around since the beginning of the modern office, but the technology hasn’t been there. That all changed around 2010, as mobile technology, AI and software-as-a-service innovations progressed rapidly. Since then, the category has taken on a renewed importance, Wahbe said. “It’s a problem that’s been around that people have been trying to solve, but now that it can be solved, you’re seeing the heads of marketing and the heads of sales really excited about this category and buying this software to help their teams be more competitive,” Wahbe said. Wahbe named and as Highspot’s top competitors. The company’s differentiator is its sophisticated AI that helps identify what content should be surfaced at the right time. Wahbe got the idea for Highspot when he was working at Microsoft, where he spent 16 years equipping sales teams with necessary information to help craft perfect pitches to potential customers. He quickly realized it was a difficult task and made a bet that others were experiencing the same problem. He founded the company seven years ago with former colleagues with and . Highspot was recently named to list for 2018, one of just two Seattle companies to earn the honor — Outreach, another fast-growing sales tech startup and a , was the other. Seattle has established itself as a hub for enterprise software, led by giants such as Microsoft, homegrown startups, and satellite offices for big companies including Salesforce. Wahbe emphasized Highspot’s commitment to Seattle, saying he didn’t plan to expand its offices internationally anytime soon. “It’s a little bit against the grain, but we really think the best way to build great software is to be here in Seattle,” Wahbe said.
Hospitality startup Hello Alfred launches in Seattle, opens local office

Hospitality startup Hello Alfred launches in Seattle, opens local office

4:26pm, 14th March, 2019
(Hello Alfred Photo) is ready to do Seattle’s laundry. And groceries. And cleaning. The hospitality startup this week expanded its on-demand home help service to seven apartment buildings in the Seattle area. Hello Alfred also opened a local office and hired an area manager and operations specialists. Seattle seems a natural fit for the company, given the city’s abundance of wealthy young professionals in luxury high-rises. As the name implies, the service acts like a virtual butler to take care of all the daily tasks you’d rather not do — taking care of your home, your pet, your travel plans. It can even help you throw a party. The startup partners with property owners, who offer the service to their residents as a perk. Two of the inaugural Seattle-area buildings are Alley24, in Amazon’s South Lake Union backyard, and Velo, which is near Google’s offices in Fremont. One-bedroom apartments in the two buildings go for around $2,000. New York-based Hello Alfred said it’s not merely another gig economy app that connects consumers with freelance contractors. The startup’s home managers are full-time employees, which the company says is important to building long-term relationships with customers. The expansion comes on the heels of a last year. Hello Alfred currently operates in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Houston, and Washington, D.C. The company recently hired Chris Haseman, former director of engineering at Uber, as its chief technology officer and launched an updated mobile app. Hello Alfred is not to be confused with , a Spokane, Wash. startup that rents out downtown apartments and turns them into short-term rentals.