Fast-growing business texting startup Zipwhip leases new Seattle HQ with room for 500 people

Elliott Bay Office Park, Zipwhip’s future home. (Geekwire Photo / Nat Levy)

Zipwhip has leased space for a new Seattle headquarters that will give the fast-growing business text messaging startup room to nearly double its headcount.

The company has leased the top floor and a half at Martin Selig’s five-story Elliott Bay Office Park, a 75,000-square-foot space with room for approximately 500 people. It will move into the new offices toward the end of 2019, said John Lauer, Zipwhip CEO.

Zipwhip CEO John Lauer. (Zipwhip Photo)

Zipwhip is “busting at the seams” in its current space, Lauer said. Today, it subleases a 50,000-square-foot space from Real Networks at a building called Home Plate Center, across the street from the newly christened T-Mobile Park.

Zipwhip has 270 employees today. Though the new space isn’t a whole lot bigger, the ability to design it from scratch, rather than taking over someone else’s offices, will allow for a better layout that can accommodate more employees, Lauer said.

The new office is north of downtown Seattle at the intersection of the Lower Queen Anne and Interbay neighborhoods. The neighborhood is becoming a bit of a startup hotspot, with Outreach recently moving in just across the street from the future Zipwhip space. Zipwhip is coming to the neighborhood around the same time Expedia plans to open its Seattle waterfront campus just down the street.

The area has popped recently because smaller companies are having a hard time finding office space in competitive neighborhoods in and around downtown. Zipwhip looked all over for a new HQ, but found this building to be the best fit for its culture.

“Real estate in Seattle is a pretty tough market,” Lauer said. “This city has grown so wildly in the last five years that there’s not a lot of real estate. So we looked at as much as we could, and this turned out to be our best option.”

Zipwhip’s current HQ is in this office building, across from T-Mobile Park. (Zipwhip Photo)

Zipwhip factored in where its employees live when looking for space. The company found that many of its workers lived in neighborhoods north of downtown, making the new location ideal for a variety of commutes.

Zipwhip sells software that lets businesses across various industries — from pro sports teams to large enterprise companies to small insurance shops — send and receive text messages with their customers using an existing business phone number.

The company is coming off a $51.5 million Series D investment round announced two months ago. The round, which was one of the largest in the Seattle area in the last year, was led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital investing group, with participation from existing investors including OpenView, M12, and Voyager Capital.

The Zipwhip team. (Zipwhip Photo)

Founded in 2007, Zipwhip originally targeted consumers and set out to be the “Facebook of text messaging.” But it pivoted around 2013, taking a different approach by working with wireless carriers to enable hundreds of millions of business landlines to receive and send text messages. This allowed companies to text with their customers from landline phones, VoIP services, and toll-free numbers.

Zipwhip has more than 30,000 businesses using its software and saw revenue increase 86 percent year-over-year in 2018. It has text-enabled 3.3 million landlines.

Lauer sees a huge market for business texting, with more than 200 million business phone numbers in the U.S. alone.

“We have a long way to go in solving this industry,” Lauer said.

It’s this huge market that has the company planning for future growth. Today, Zipwhip has 25 openings on its job board, and the new space will give the company capacity to grow even more.

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