Former ‘Facebook for Construction’, FieldLens closing

FieldLens, the New York City-based mobile construction management technology provider, acquired by WeWork in June 2017, is set to shut down.

Fieldlens logoFieldLens, the New York City-based mobile construction management technology provider once dubbed the “Facebook of Construction” is said to be closing down. The business largely disappeared after being acquired by WeWork in June 2017 (FieldLens acquired by WeWork), and Yves Frinault of San Francisco-based rival FieldWire has talked about FieldLens’ closure on social media, saying:
Fieldwire logo

“I am pretty bummed about Fieldlens’ closure. It often takes multiple companies to change an industry and in our quest to improve the lives of craftspeople in the field, they were definitely a worthy competitor.”

Meanwhile, the FieldWire blog also invites former FieldLens users to explore its products (Why Fieldwire is the Best Fieldlens Alternative).

FieldLens backstory

FieldLensFieldLens was founded by Doug Chambers and Matt Sena in 2011 and launched the Beta service of its mobile construction collaboration service – once dubbed the “Facebook of Construction” – in late 2013. It was one of a handful of vendors who looked to change from the industry norm of email-type communication processes to mobile-friendly short-form status updates and messaging feeds (Should construction dump email?). Fieldlens formally launched in March 2014, and two months later closed an US$8m funding round.

When it was acquired by WeWork, the property business was looking for a toolset that it could deploy to support its stream of new office fit-outs. WeWork was then opening 5 to 10 locations every month. It was becoming one of the world’s largest consumers of design and construction services, and recognised the importance of information in efficient building processes. Chambers said FieldLens would also be offered as “a stand-alone construction communication product”. But it was no longer marketed as overtly as before, and began to fall from view.

WeWork logoWeWork downsize and sell-off

Since 2017, WeWork – once a £47 billion unicorn – has faced some major challenges. It filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in August 2019, then cut its valuation down to as low as $10 billion. It removed the flamboyant Adam Neumann as CEO, and then delayed the IPO indefinitely while also planning to layoff up to 6,000 employees – about 30% to 50% of its workforce (Forbes). Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and 100s of once-busy WeWork co-working spaces became ghost towns, barely occupied by the startups and SMEs that were once its lucrative lifeblood.

As well as cutting staff, it appears the business has also been offloading some of its proptech and other acquisitions, sometimes at huge discounts to their purchase prices. MeetUp was sold to a venture capital firm, and (according to the Real Estate Daily Beat) the “Selling spree of failed acquisitions continues: Managed by Q, Flatiron School, Unomy, Spacemob, Fieldlens, and Welkio –the list goes on and on“. However, without the energy and commitment of its founders, starved of marketing, and with many property project sites idle, it seems keeping the FieldLens business alive has proved impossible.

(Thanks to Asite CEO Nathan Doughty for the tip-off; the Asite NYC office was 11 blocks from FieldLens’ office.)

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