pipelinepipelineauthorBiz CarsonNoneDo you know what's going on in the venture capital and startup world? Get the Pipeline newsletter every Saturday.021fce003e
×

Get access to Protocol

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

I’m already a subscriber
Power

Compass lays off 15% as coronavirus wreaks havoc on real estate

The SoftBank-backed unicorn is already predicting a 50% decline in revenue over six months.

Compass real estate sign

New York-based Compass is laying off around 375 employees.

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

New York-based real estate startup Compass is laying off 15% of its workforce, around 375 employees, as the spread of coronavirus has startups hitting the brakes. The SoftBank-backed real estate company, most recently valued at $6.4 billion, is already predicting its revenue to be cut in half over the next six months, its CEO Robert Reffkin announced on Monday in a company email obtained by Protocol.

"As we continue to hope for the best, we need to prepare for the worst. So we are joining thousands of other companies across the country in making the heartbreaking decision to let some members of our team go," he said.

Get what matters in tech, in your inbox every morning. Sign up for Source Code.

Like many startups, Compass is scrambling to reduce its own costs. Not only is it laying workers off, but it's pausing marketing spend and trimming office costs. Reffkin also reduced his salary to $0, and the rest of the leadership team cut theirs by 25%, according to the email.

Real estate in particular has been hit hard amid an economic downturn and orders for people to shelter in place. Startups like SoftBank-backed Opendoor have paused their real estate buying operations at this time to conserve capital, and Zillow and Redfin have since followed suit. Compass, whose agents once preached rising home prices in the Bay Area, has seen demand for showings nosedive. It's also halted programs, like its bridge loans, amid the market turmoil.

"Our own early data is already showing a more-than-60% decrease in showings, and with 'shelter in place' policies likely coming to the majority of markets, we should expect a much larger decrease," Reffkin said in an email to employees.

Still, he took an optimistic tone about the company's future, pointing to being debt-free and having a strong cash position, as well as tech tools to enable remote work and virtual trainings.

"I feel hopeful that China's apparent success at reducing the spread of the coronavirus and restarting their enormous economy may provide a blueprint for our future, as well. And I feel hopeful because of the ways I see people throughout our company and throughout our society stepping up during this challenging time," Reffkin wrote.

People

Google’s trying to build a more inclusive, less chaotic future of work

Javier Soltero, the VP of Workspace at Google, said time management is everything.

With everyone working in new places, Google believes time management is everything.

Image: Google

Javier Soltero was still pretty new to the G Suite team when the pandemic hit. Pretty quickly, everything about Google's hugely popular suite of work tools seemed to change. (It's not even called G Suite anymore, but rather Workspace.) And Soltero had to both guide his team through a new way of working and help them build the tools to guide billions of Workspace users.

This week, Soltero and his team announced a number of new Workspace features designed to help people manage their time, collaborate and get stuff done more effectively. It offered new tools for frontline workers to communicate better, more hardware for hybrid meetings, lots of Assistant and Calendar features to make planning easier and a picture-in-picture mode so people could be on Meet calls without really having to pay attention.

Keep Reading Show less
David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Sponsored Content

The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

Keep Reading Show less
Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
Power

Everything you need to know about the Compass IPO

The company hasn't yet disclosed its target listing date or share price.

Compass is a real estate brokerage startup that provides an online platform for buying, renting and selling real estate.
Photo: Smith Collection/Getty Images

On March 1, Compass released its S-1 in anticipation of an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. The company hasn't yet disclosed its target listing date or share price.

Compass, founded in 2012 by Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon, is a real estate brokerage startup that provides an online platform for buying, renting and selling real estate. The company hopes to replace the "paper-driven, antiquated workflow" of buying a house with a seamless, all-digital platform that "empowers real estate agents to deliver an exceptional experience." Rather than trying to make real estate agents a thing of the past, the company says it's working with them. And a lot of the company's success hinges on attracting and retaining agents.

Keep Reading Show less
Jane Seidel

Jane Seidel is Protocol's social media manager. She was previously a platform producer at The Wall Street Journal, creating mobile content and crafting alert strategy. Prior to that, she worked in audience development at WSJ and on digital editorial at NBC Universal. She lives in Brooklyn.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

Keep Reading Show less
Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

People

Citizen’s plan to keep people safe (and beat COVID-19) with an app

Citizen CEO Andrew Frame talks privacy, safety, coronavirus and the future of the neighborhood watch.

Citizen added COVID-19 tracking to its app over the summer — but its bigger plans got derailed.

Photo: Citizen

Citizen is an app built on the idea that transparency is a good thing. It's the place users — more than 7 million of them, in 28 cities with many more to come soon — can find out when there's a crime, a protest or an incident of any kind nearby. (Just yesterday, it alerted me, along with 17,900 residents of Washington, D.C., that it was about to get very windy. It did indeed get windy.) Users can stream or upload video of what's going on, locals can chat about the latest incidents and everyone's a little safer at the end of the day knowing what's happening in their city.

At least, that's how CEO Andrew Frame sees it. Critics of Citizen say the app is creating hordes of voyeurs, incentivizing people to run into dangerous situations just to grab a video, and encouraging racial profiling and other problematic behaviors all under the guise of whatever "safety" means. They say the app promotes paranoia, alerting users to things that they don't actually need to know about. (That the app was originally called "Vigilante" doesn't help its case.)

Keep Reading Show less
David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Latest Stories