When Covid-19 broke out in early 2020, all companies big or small were forced to adopt the remote work culture. While some workplaces are still waiting to reopen, many others like Twitter, have already allowed their staff to work remotely, forever.
The remote working culture as an idea, was never this relevant, as it is now. Before 2020, it was a good perk to have, something that many employees would use occasionally, and a very select few companies, like Zapier and Wordpress, who would plan their entire business around it.
Additionally, employers would use this approach to exclusively attract global talent, whenever they couldn’t find the requisite resource locally. Job van der Voort realized this unmet need in the market in 2019, and set up “Remote”, an HR solutions firm for recruiting in organisations that encouraged remote work.
Neuroscience, GitLab and Sid Sijbrandij
Even before completing his PHD in Neuroscience, Voort wanted to address this unmet need in the market, but due to various unavoidable circumstances, the plans did not achieve fruition. He followed this set-back by picking up a programming job, and in the process became acquainted with Sid Sijbrandij, who later founded GitLab. Vroot later joined GitLab as VP of Product, where he worked for over five years, playing a key role in making GitLab the largest all-remote company in the world, and gathering valuable experiences that would later become a key component towards building Remote.
During this time at GitLab he understood how difficult it really was to manage a globally distributed workforce. In his own personal experience, he found a very talented German product manager but could not hire him, because of issues that had nothing to do with his work, or related capabilities. It took GitLab a whole year to figure out the legal twists and turns before the organisation was able to hire local people while following every local regulation. During his time in GitLab, the company expanded its operations to 67 countries, and faced these challenges every time.
“Our inability to move fast and solve global employment issues in minutes instead of months was the driving force behind the vision to create a global infrastructure for remote employment. By solving global employment, we can ultimately create more remote work.” – Job van der Voort
Over time, facing the same issues while hiring remote talents, Job had a clear understanding of what he needed to do. The global remote workforce culture was intensifying around the world, and efficient recruitment was not about finding the best candidate in San Francisco anymore; it was about hiring the best of the best around the globe, transcending boundaries, unifying regulations and integrating various cultures and ethnicities.
A Problem, a Domain Name and Marcelo Lebre
Job van der Voort left GitLab after five years to find the solution to the problems he faced. He had three major concerns:
- How would a potential resource based in another country be compensated, once hired?
- How to stay compliant, especially with all the various restrictive laws and regulations?
- How to deliver in-office benefits to the employees who work remotely?
He teamed up with Marcelo Lebre, one of the best engineering leaders he knew at the time, and initiated the venture that would ultimately become Remote. Currently, the CTO and Co-founder of Remote, Marcelo Lebre has served as the VP of Engineering at Unbabel. He is also an extremely proficient startup advisor, who has held several CTO positions. A massive sci-fi nerd and a passionate engineer, Lebre often speaks about managing remote teams and engineering leadership at massive events, in addition to sharing important tips in his Remote Engineering Stories podcast.
“At Remote, we’re going to build a plethora of tools to make your life easier and allow you to experience life and work in a totally different and wholesome way,” – Marcelo Lebre
Job was determined to provide unparalleled compliance, and payroll benefits for all the universal teams, and had many revolutionary ideas, like offering employer-of-record services, which allows it to act as an employer for tax purposes for employees working at a different company.
From the very beginning, Vroot was certain about the label and branding. Being a strong believer of language and design, he decided to not settle for anything less than Remote.com. When he was seeking the domain, Remote.com was owned by two individuals, Nick and Elina. Job contacted them personally to acquire the domain, and eventually reached an agreement with Job being the owner of the domain, with Marcelo being the listed Co-founder.
$196 Million and 3 Rounds
Remote has undergone funding three times since its inception. Today, the organisation is simplifying remote working worldwide, with a total investment of $196 Million, and close to 500 employees, globally. As of publication of this report, the benchmark valuation of the company is over $1.4 Billion.
On April 22, 2020 Remote as the company announced a seed investment of $11 Million, led by Two Sigma Ventures with participation from Liquid2, Remote First Capital, Index Ventures, INKEF Ventures, HackerOne, General Catalyst, and GitLab. This influx was used to expand its onboarding platforms to 40 new markets by the end of 2020, including Germany, France, the United States, and Canada.
“Over the past few years we've seen a once in a generational shift to remote work, but companies very quickly realize how complex, difficult, and time consuming it is to actually employ people in different countries. Making payroll, providing benefits, and complying with local employment laws and regulations quickly becomes too risky or overwhelming to most startups and organizations. Solving this problem globally and making it possible to employ anybody in any country is extremely powerful.” – Villi Iltchev, Two Sigma Ventures
This is exactly what the Remote team was looking forward to. With its own global infrastructure, the company was ready to assist its client in creating a local entity, running local payroll, learning about local labor laws, and even hiring a local attorney. Today, Remote gives companies access to a globally distributed HR platform so they can run remote global organizations easily through salary simulations, payroll approvals, and more.
Series A - $35 million
Remote raised its Series A funding of $35 Million on October 10, 2020, which empowered it to take another step in transforming the global talent and recruitment market. It was led by Index Ventures with participation from Sequoia Capital, and a few angel investors including Zach Weinberg, Julia Hartz, Aaron Levie, and Kevin. Two Sigma Ventures and General Catalyst from the previous seed funding also contributed to the capital. This fresh influx of capital boosted the entire organization to secure its position as the most compliant and competitive solution provider in the industry for end-to-end issues regarding global employment requisitions.
“For any business to succeed and scale, it needs two key ingredients - financial capital and human capital. In the past, many high-growth businesses were hindered by their inability to find talent within a certain radius from the office. As attitudes towards where we work have dramatically shifted this year, Remote has been on a hyper-growth trajectory, helping companies hire anyone in any country, while staying compliant with local labor laws. Whatever happens, COVID-19 has permanently altered the role of the office for employers and employees alike.” – Hannah Seal, Index Ventures
“The future of work will involve many remote employees. Remote is addressing a key area of friction in the global economy by opening up the availability of talent to all businesses and the range of opportunities to individuals. We are excited to support Remote in its drive to reshape the global talent market.” – Ravi Gupta, Sequoia Capital
Remote’s current clientele includes thousands of companies looking to benefit from its universal network of legal entities and global employment model, including GitLab, Cargo One, Loom, Phaidra, and Whereby. Remote has been doubling its customer base every month, since the beginning of 2020. Starting with only five employees, the company currently boasts of over 450 employees, spread across 67 counties and operated efficiently, without a conventional office setting. The team has grown 650% in 2020, along with prominent additions of Elisa Rossi as the VP of Growth and Roderick Van Vilet as Head of the Legal. Jan Hammer, partner at Index Ventures and Hannah Seal, Principal at Index Ventures had also joined the board.
Series B - $150 million
On July 13, 2021, Remote secured a Series B investment of $150 at an unicorn valuation of over $1 Billion. This round was led by the company’s top investor Accel, along with other existing investors like Index Ventures, Two Sigma, Day One Ventures, Sequoia, and General Catalyst. This is a milestone that showcases the passion and commitment of Remote’s global team.
Since November of 2021, Remote has added an additional 32 legal entities, taking their total presence to more than 50 across the world. It means that the company can empower its’ clients to hire resources in over 50 locations by following the local regulatory guidelines. The company expects this new funding to speed up its growth into more countries, with a targeted 80 country earmark set for the end of 2021.
Freelancers, Customers and Market Share
Although Remote is a HR solution provider for global employment, the company encourages freelancing, and assists companies to do the same. With its plethora of services, remote offers several benefits like work-from-home, and time-flexibility, that have classically been enjoyed only by freelancers. It makes Remote.com an integral part of the freelance marketplace. The company currently boasts a market share of over 5% of the industry, and actively competes with 59 other organisations in the same category. The top competitors of Remote are OnSite with more than half of the entire consumer pool, Dribble with about 16% of the market, Guru.com with approximately 12% of the market share, and Upwork and Freelancer.com with 3% each of the market share.
Remote has 15,601 customers at the moment, representing various industries and operation sizes including social media, software development, technology, digital marketing, advertising, marketing, networking, web designing, web development, consulting, graphic designing, branding, home automation, search engine optimization, and more. Unsurprisingly, most of Remote’s clients maintain a very lean team structure with more than 6400 companies maintaining a headcount of less than 10 employees, while around 2000 organisations have a workforce of 11-50 employees. Less than 500 companies among Remote’s clients has more than 50 employees.
What do the customers want?
“They have different expectations, but in the end, what they want is literally the same: they want happy employees.” – Marcelo Lebre
The moment Remote initiated operation; it had a huge pool of customers, who wanted to hire global talents through their setup. On a daily basis, the company is contacted by clients from various industries with different expectations, and has beneficiaries across different geographies. However, the main goal was to hire happy employees, while being able to recruit resources overseas and open a formal entity in the country the candidate resides in.
In practice, Remote acts as an employer on record. Three separate entities connect the employer, Remote.com, and the candidate of interest. The service contract exists between the employer and Remote, and the user contract exists between Remote and the employee. Other competitors of remote do have similar setups, but what makes Remote unique is that it does not use any third-party infrastructure, but owns several infrastructures across the world. Job and Marcelo believe that there has always been a flaw in how companies have been operating for decades. They find it inefficient, that individuals are obligated to spend more time with colleagues, rather than spending with their families. Working remotely solves this problem, while also bringing people who are far apart, together.
It is about setting a new work culture where people can work continuously without planning for it. As Marcelo had stated from his own experience, going through the agenda for the week is not very fruitful. People often space out and do not pay attention. Instead, a more fluid and continuous workflow is much more efficient and appreciated, and is exactly what the customers of Remote are looking for. The customer satisfaction score of the company is quite impressive at the moment, along with a very efficient plan to efficiently scale in the future. Remote has an oddup score of 71.61. The oddup score is a proprietary metric monitored by Oddup, that encompasses the entire health metric of a company into a single number, ranging between 1- 100. In other words, higher the oddup score, more healthy is an organisation, and has a higher chance of increasing in value in the future.
The company’s flexible and transparent global infrastructure solution is ideal for the compliant growth of any organisation’s global presence. A company doesn’t have to own the full stack infrastructure in every country, because Remote already owns it, and offers it with speed, flexibility, and cost-efficiency. The services are provided through the proprietary network, and IP and invention rights. The ironclad two-step transfer process of Remote IP Guard makes sure the clients do not have to worry about complicated paperwork despite having full ownership over everything. While the client organisation retains invention rights, IP of the employees, and control of business operations, Remote handles payroll, benefits, and local compliance.
Unlike some global employment providers, Remote does not pass its clients’ IP to its partners. Instead, the company owns legal entities in all countries it operates in, which eliminates the chances of an IP risk. Remote also monitors changes in IP law constantly so it can update agreements accordingly and protect its clients’ ownership over their IP. While assigning workers for clients, Remote uses a two-step process before direct IP transfer to the clients. Thanks to the company’s international expertise, it makes sure to offer the broadest IP protection services in all countries. So, consumers are assured to receive the maximum rights to the company’s IP under the countries’ laws where they have employees located. Remote covers multiple industries when it comes to IP protection, and whether a customer owns IP in energy, finance, manufacturing, tech, or in another industry, the international legal experts of the team are competent enough to be able to secure it in every situation.
Remote makes the security of the clients’ company data and employee information a top priority by offering powerful and reliable infrastructure security. Remote infrastructure remains in isolated networks with restricted and complete auditable access. The systems are secured with advanced firewalls that include prevention mechanisms and security threat detection. To ensure bost protection and compliance, Remote relies on Amazon Web Services as its cloud provider that itself follows strict industry standards. The company also offers a dedicated security team to its clients. This team maintains audit logs of application accesses and changes and runs tests for susceptibilities to boost network protection. Moreover, all data is encrypted whether it is stored or is in transit. So, both employee data and private information are secured.
The Remote team also segregates system access only to essential personnel. All internal tools and systems of Remote require SSO, and the company conducts daily training sessions and regular recertification to maintain its high standards. The company complies with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by encrypting data, no matter where the client travels to.
What the Future Holds
The diversified global team of Remote is the reason for its significant growth. The company rapidly grew because of the remarkable group of people it hired from all over the world. This is precisely the message Remote wants to share with others.
Covid-19 has already disrupted the natural workflow and offices have been forced to close down. It is time to adopt a different work culture that not only helps the employer hire great talent from around the world but also the employees who get access to opportunities which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. The company operates asynchronously, which means freedom from locations and time zones. By doing the same, companies all over the world can achieve speedy development from the strength and solid structure of a uniquely diverse team.
With the latest funding, the company announced the launch of its first-to-market Global Employee API. With the powerful API, clients can integrate the company’s platform with an internal system used by the clients to consolidate employee information from remote and streamline maintenance of data. They may also develop custom integrations to plug Remote’s API framework into their systems, build connections that provide customers with more value from their information, eliminate data duplication by creating a single source of data for the team, and speed up and simplify operation with the simple yet powerful API interface.
Remote has also partnered with Greenhouse to help its clients with an easier hiring process. The Greenhouse is recognized as a market leader in ATS (Applicant Tracking Software). After almost a decade in the industry, the company has developed a broad suite of powerful hiring products for all types of companies. With this new partnership, two of the best platforms have come together.
Greenhouse will work on recruiting and hiring, while Remote will take care of global employment, payroll, and benefits. The future of work culture is going to be a lot smoother with Remote.