Why We Invested in Remote

By Villi Iltchev on April 22, 2020

Until just a few years ago, the conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley was that the only way to build and scale a company was to bring all employees under the same roof. Facebook and Google famously resisted opening a San Francisco office to adhere to this philosophy. I had the same mindset until all of my assumptions were challenged when I invested in GitLab in 2016. GitLab was a completely virtual company with all employees working remotely. While I perceived scaling a remote company as high risk, I was also fascinated by the potential of remote work. I found these two questions incredibly interesting:

  1. What if you can hire the best person in the world for each job?
  2. What if you can eliminate the water cooler for knowledge transfer and instead rely on process, documentation, and instrumentation?

Our experience with GitLab leads us to believe in a compelling answer to both questions. Over the past few years, the narrative has shifted and remote work has become increasingly accepted. Many established companies like Stripe and HashiCorp have made remote a key part of their growth strategy. Many startups have decided to build and scale remote-only companies. Startups have realized that the physical, economic, and talent constraints of technology hubs like San Francisco and New York make it challenging to build and scale a company fully on-site. At the same time, there are millions of exceptionally talented engineers, designers, and other professionals around the world who would welcome the opportunity to work remotely for an exciting startup.

Over the past few years, we have also seen remarkable growth in remote work. I believe this is just the beginning of a 20-year trend. The benefits are just too compelling, and I believe most companies will adopt remote work to some extent. While remote work is propelled by the availability of great collaboration tools, the biggest friction for building a remote company can actually be finding a way to employ and pay your remote employees in different countries, with different currencies, and to comply with local employment regulations. There simply is not a scalable and cost-effective solution to hire employees around the world. Companies face unpalatable choices, such as circumventing local regulations by hiring people as contractors, which is often illegal, not scalable, and not a good experience for the employee, or working with antiquated and slow Professional Employment Organizations (PEO), which oftentimes charge more than 30% of the cost of the employee.

Remote intends to solve this problem. Remote makes hiring anywhere simple and safe by taking care of payroll, benefits, and compliance (see remote.com/countries). If you are looking to hire a contractor or a full-time employee in a different country, you can set them up on the Remote platform, and Remote will be able to start paying them salaries and benefits every single month. Employers get a single invoice for all their employees, and employees receive local pay slips and benefits, in a fully compliant way. Remote’s pricing is transparent, predictable, and affordable. Because Remote owns their own global infrastructure (with a local legal entity and partners in every country they operate in), they can build a more robust, seamless, and flexible solution for global organizations.

Remote is built by a team of experienced product and engineering leaders who can build scalable, powerful, user-friendly applications for their customers. Remote was founded by Job van der Voort and Marcelo Lebre. Job lived this problem first-hand previously as the VP of Product at GitLab, while Marcelo has led many engineering teams, most recently as the VP of Engineering at Unbabel. I have had the privilege of watching Job execute over the past few years at GitLab and am now excited and honored to have the opportunity to join Job and Marcelo on their journey to making remote work frictionless around the world.

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