Spotahome set to move headquarters from Madrid to London

UK: Spanish startup Spotahome has said it plans to open its headquarters in London in the next few months and it will unveil its management team in due course.

The startup company, backed by Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, is moving its headquarters from Madrid to London as it hopes to recruit a number of high-level technology executives.

Spotahome, which has been in operations for five years and was valued at $160m after a $40m funding round last year, is seeking to disrupt Europe’s property market by connecting landlords with rental tenants through its website and app, which show both floor plans and videos of available properties.

The company has already made recent appointments in a number of key positions: Angel Azcarraga, a previous software development director at Amazon; Cleo Sham, who was formerly head of operations in China and Europe for Uber; and Balaji Nageswaran, who joined after being head of product management at Amazon.

Spotahome founder Alejandro Artacho told the Financial Times that the decision to move its headquarters from Madrid to London, as well as plans to recruit an extra 200 people to its staff in the UK, were taken as newly-appointed executives stated a preference to be based in the English capital.

Artacho said: “I was talking to top executives and it happened either they were already in London or were more willing to relocate to London [than Madrid]. It is going to be a hub and city that is attracting talent anyway.”

He added that several of his co-founders had stepped back from senior management jobs to make way for the new executives in a process that he said was “very difficult”, so he sought advice from a management coach.

He said: “I was always obsessed with surrounding ourselves with global-minded people and ambitious people.”

Artacho also said he would be prepared to step aside as well if necessary: “They say there are two kinds of founders, mercenaries and missionaries. My co-founders and me are like missionaries.”

Spotahome co-founder and former chief technology officer, Bryan McEire, has now moved into the role of technology adviser. Meanwhile, Bruno Bianchi, formerly COO, has taken on a role in strategy.

The company anticipates the move to London headquarters will coincide with a period of deep uncertainty in Brexit negotiations, however Artacho said the referendum vote would not affect the UK’s ability to attract skilled workers. Like Uber’s car-booking app, Spotahome’s model must balance supply and demand and deal with a framework of local regulations.

Artacho told the Financial Times that Uber had demonstrated how to expand rapidly across numerous global markets.

“The Uber experience is so relevant for us. It’s this speed mentality — the hyper energy.

Cleo Sham, who ran Uber’s operations in China, said her job at Spotahome would be to help the start-up through a period of “hypergrowth” as it targeted new markets and international expansion.

Balaji Nageswaran started at Spotahome in November and said he was concentrating on introducing features such as enhanced security checks on tenants that use credit reference agencies.

Azcarraga said his priority was to hire more executives: “I want to start tapping deeply into my connections and finding people that want to make a similar change for the same reasons. Bringing in those people is going to be a huge focus for me.”

Mood Rowghani, representing Spotahome investor Kleiner Perkins, said: “Spotahome is an exciting new platform to drive much-needed innovation in this market.

“Residential real estate rental industry has been slow to evolve in the digital age. We have drawn inspiration from other great marketplace innovators: Booking.com and Airbnb (for real-time listings), OpenTable (for instant bookings and inventory management) and Uber and Deliveroo,” he added.

For more information, visit the Spotahome website here.

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