An example of a virtual GeekWire office built with Spot. (Spot Photo)
New funding: Spot, a Seattle-based startup building a Sims-esque metaverse platform for businesses, has raised a $5.5 million seed round.
The tech: The company allows users to build virtual hubs that can be used for events or business functions. Users are able to communicate with each other through chat or video conferencing functions. The idea is to replace Slack channels and breakout rooms with an immersive digital headquarters.
Use cases: Anyone with a web browser is able to access the service. Spot is currently being used by teams at companies ranging from Google to veterinarian offices. The startup said that users have already created more than 8,000 custom workplaces on the platform. It plans to use its fresh funds to continue developing the product into something that is “enterprise-ready,” CEO and co-founder Gordon Hempton told GeekWire in an email.
The team: Spot, which currently has nine employees, was launched by Hempton and Wes Hather. The duo was part of a team that co-founded Seattle unicorn Outreach. They also worked together to launch a startup called Team Apart, a YC-backed workplace communication platform. Hempton said Spot will use some of its funding to hire four employees.
The competition: As hybrid and remote work policies are increasingly adopted, many employers are incorporating various tech solutions in their plans to manage dispersed workforces. The most common examples include Slack, Microsoft Teams and Discord. However, other companies are trying virtual reality and apps such as Oculus for Business. In July, Microsoft introduced Viva Engage, an in-house social media app for employee engagement.
Hempton said that Spot is building a “very ambitious product in a very competitive market.” He added that it is able to compete with companies like Slack and Teams because they don’t offer the same virtual office experience for users.
Investors: The startup raised $1.7 million in April 2021. The round was led by Freestyle, with participation from Liquid 2 Ventures, Community Access Fund and Founder’s Co-op. The company did not reveal its valuation.