In 2019, Flo Crivello was working as the head of product for Uber’s JUMP Starter division and found himself completely exhausted, on the verge of tears. His team had spent the day trying to fix an outage, something they did quite frequently with ease but this time it felt different, and significantly harder, and Crivello couldn’t figure out why. Then suddenly it clicked. “Because we were remote, we didn’t have the ability to cowork as fast and as fluidly as we used to,” he tells Forbes. That day was the first time his team had conducted its typical damage control remotely, and the software tools they used had come up short. The informal collaboration they were used to just wouldn’t work the same over Zoom. Confident the problem was felt by others, too, Crivello holed up in his bedroom to work on a fix.
The resulting product: Teamflow, a Sims-esque platform that offers a customizable virtual office designed to simulate a regular workplace, complete with desks and the ability to approach and chat with colleagues in a virtual hallway or, after knocking on a digital office door. Founded in July 2020, Teamflow launched its product five months ago and has grown to include customers like Netflix and Shopify. The platform has already logged more than a million hours of meetings. “The engagement we are seeing is crazy,” Crivello says. “Our average user is using us five hours a day, six days a week. Half of our users are using it more than that. It’s rare to see consumer levels of engagement for software and this engagement has led us to raise a ton of money.” Cue the startup’s third capital raise in the last year.
Teamflow raised a $35 million Series B round at a $225 million valuation led by Coatue, with participation from existing investors Menlo Ventures and Battery Ventures, as originally reported in Midas Touch newsletter. The startup has raised $50 million in total over the last 12 months to do what most startups do with funding: hire people and build more products. Lucas Swisher, a general partner at Coatue, says he thinks Teamflow will be able to tap into the future of work trend regardless of where it ends up. “Some companies want all their employees back, some want to go completely remote, the nice thing about Teamflow is it plays in all of those different worlds,” Swisher says. “As companies get large, they are geographically dispersed so even if they are all in the office, they are still remote, and something like Teamflow is critical.”
Crivello jokes that Teamflow feels like an office, but with much cheaper real estate. Users appear as bubbles that can be moved around and placed in different rooms, and only hear what is being said by bubbles closeby. A suite of tools allows people to meet and use virtual whiteboards simultaneously. Crivello says it’s also meant to offer more privacy than a traditional office environment, because without capital or space constrainments, everyone can have their own private space and lock simulated doors if they want to make themselves temporarily unavailable. “It’s better than being there in a physical office, and we think people underestimate that that is a very low bar,” Crivello says. “You don’t get that privacy, here you get infinite space.” (Of course, you can get even more privacy by doing neither, and simply logging off Slack and Zoom.)
Future of work has been top of mind for many VCs and startups over the last year as people try to predict what the workforce will look like after the monumental shifts in habits due to Covid-19. Many startups are looking to tackle the future of work as habits shift due to Covid-19. They include Around, which created a video collaboration tool that blocks out sound feedback, allowing people to use it from home or in the same room, and Remote, a billion-dollar valued company that helps manage global HR. “We really do perceive remote as one of the most exciting changes to work,” Crivello says. “It’s underhyped and underrated. It’s the most important economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution.”