We have some big news to share today: Teleport has been acquired by MOVE Guides. Please do read the official press release here, but as this is such a special day as founders, we would like to share a few more words on the backstory.
Teleport’s journey to date
Teleport celebrated our birthday on Saturday, April 1st. Almost to a date today three years ago, we incorporated a crazy little venture based on ideas that Sten, Silver and Balaji had cooked up that spring of 2014.
We looked at the macro trends of mobility, argued around the increasing freedoms people have and the leverage the choice of their location gives them as an individual—just like international moves enable large multinationals grow their businesses.
As Sten wrote in the launch post back then:
“A modern urban professional can walk off an airplane in any country in the world and be immediately operational. She can continue her work where she left off a few time zones away, stay in touch with her friends and ensure a roof over her head for the same evening and wheels to meet her in front of the airport.
Jobs do not equal places any more. Millions of more people every year can live anywhere.”
We didn’t remain alone in our belief. Some serious investors from Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel and Seedcamp to angels like Jaan Tallinn (from Skype), Jeff Dean (from Google), Scott Banister and others took a leap of faith of backing us on a pitch on a few vision slides and a scrappy prototype. Soon after, we pulled together a tight startup team, many sharing our own Skype roots.
We decided there were two big buckets of problems we could help solve for this rising class with our software skills: discovery (finding the best place to be) and move execution (once you know where you’re headed then actually getting to that place). For starters, we built a search engine—to help consumers make sense of their moving choices through a growing list of delightful apps and powered by some serious data plumbing to automatically collect, clean and aggregate income, cost & quality of life data from hundreds of sources.
How consumer and corporate relocation connect
Just a few years earlier, a mobile knowledge worker named Brynne moved to London after working in finance in Asia. She arrived in 2010 to a sublet apartment without hot water and internet, and unable to get a bank account or a mobile phone. This was so frustrating that by June 2012, Brynne Kennedy and Steve Black launched version 1.0 of MOVE Guides, their new full relocation solution startup.
Their early market research convinced them to start from enterprise end, building tools for companies to move their employees around. And oh boy, have they—by now, they’ve taken the numbers of executed moves to tens of thousands per year and expanded their client list to Fortune 500.
Both Teleport and MOVE Guides hail from Europe, and as among the very few venture funded players in different parts of the mobility market, we have been eyeing each-other from afar for years. We both share a vision of making it easy for people to move. The following graph illustrates how, with eventually the same total market in sight, we have been moving towards each other from different directions:
MOVE Guides started by serving the very high end of the market, corporate relocations by the most influential international companies in the world. When these corporations move their top talent, they have high demands and are willing to invest to make sure these moves are perfectly executed; much more than any self-moving freelancers or international students would spend on their own. But as typical with long tail markets like the graph above, only about 5% of total number of moves in the world are employer led & sponsored.
Teleport started from serving the high volume consumer long tail, to make low cost moving tools available to the 350M potentially mobile millennials in the consumer space. As Sten wrote about our learnings at 18 months milestone, exactly half way back to start:
“There has been some pull to build and sell versions of Teleport software for enterprise customers already, but we believe that at this early stage it is important to keep our eyes firmly on the needs, wants and desires of the real humans on the move.
Why? Behind every 10 checkboxes, an HR department needs to tick for a group of recruits coming next month - there are life quality defining, sometimes just burning issues for each of those individuals. We want to solve those first, before we get drawn to corporate compliance and bulk purchases. Borrowing from the playbook of Skype, where a large share of our team comes from, we know that if you build an amazing consumer experience that people actually love to use, you will eventually find a way into the companies they work for.”
We might have approached the mobility market from two different ends, but at MOVE Guides and Teleport we both eventually want the same thing: remove friction and make it easy for anyone to move to their best place in the world to live and work, regardless of where they were lucky to be born. Call it democratizing the relocation market, or just helping free people move.
How we came together
Teleport had a really good year in product growth in 2016. We ended the year with a quarter million user profiles and served over one million searches per year for the first time. These numbers both grew about six times year-over-year. When friends asked us how Teleport is doing, we often responded: “there is enough of a product now, time to build a business next”.
And building a business is where we indeed spent a large part of the year. We intensified our work of the demand side of mobile talent market, both to help governments compete for every citizen as well as taking our income, cost & quality of life data sets to corporate use cases like new market entry and international recruitment.
Besides talking to clients directly, we also had a number of chats with other service and technology companies interested in licensing what Teleport has built for the benefit of their own clients. So naturally, the time was right to take an introduction to MOVE Guides, too.
In a proper startup fashion, ideas started moving quickly and on December 23rd, a night before Christmas, we shook hands on integration parts of our software in the new year. Well, it was actually a video call in weird hours from San Francisco to Vietnam, but it was as close to a handshake you can imagine in our mobile world.
As we got from ideas to design and development in January, started to meet each other’s teams, learning about the culture, values and the long term vision, it became obvious in mere weeks that a commercial partnership is nice, but together we can really be an unstoppable tour de force for next generation of mobility technology.
The rest, as they say, is now history. From an email from Brynne, probing the acquisition possibility on a Sunday night following her first trip to Tallinn. Signing a term sheet in early March in San Francisco. And a deal closing in London already on the last days of the month.
It is done: welcome to Teleport, a MOVE Guides company.
As it often is with consolidations like these, not much in the short term, and a lot of new things expected in the long term. Here are some quick highlights of what we know and can share right now:
- Majority of the Teleport team have joined MOVE Guides, and Sten and Silver have joined the executive leadership team. We will continue building amazing products for people on the move.
- Teleport’s Tallinn office joins the line of MOVE Guides’ offices in San Francisco, London and Hong Kong. The two European sites will remain the product engineering hub.
- MOVE Guides customers and the employees whom they relocate will start seeing Teleport-grade user experiences, as well as our data pop up here and there as part of the MOVE Guides Mobility Cloud platform.
- We will review some of the adjacent consumer apps we’ve built over the years, as well as our public APIs and might clean up a bit. These announcements will be made separately when decisions are made.
And as always: free people move! No change there.
We want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to all of our users, team members past and current, their patient partners and families, our investors, business partners, early clients. Thank you for all that you have done to get Teleport to this point. We look forward to this next phase.
On behalf of the Teleport team,
Sten Tamkivi, co-founder & CEO
Silver Keskküla, co-founder