Willow, the Australian provider of digital twin solutions for infrastructure and real estate, lays off 99 staff, 22% of its workforce on 24th December 2022, following a recent recalibration of company strategy. 72 full-time employees as well as 27 contractors have been laid off, with Australian employees reported to account for around 50% of the job losses, alongside the US team.
Headquartered in Sydney, the firm was founded in 2017 and reported a global workforce of over 350 employees in mid-year, which includes digital engineers, software engineers, sales and marketing, customer success and subject matter experts as well as operational staff and technical support staff located across offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Seattle, New York, London, Amersfoort and Manila.
As one of the early movers at the forefront of digitization technology in commercial buildings, Willow creates virtual representations of physical assets, overlaid with real-time information from devices, equipment, people and places. The Willow Twin platform, built on Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins service, combines static and historical data, IoT device data and live operating data to create actionable insights. By synthesizing this data, Willow claims to have gone beyond connecting and managing IoT devices to create a solution that improves energy efficiency, spatial utilization, occupant experience and regulatory compliance of buildings and infrastructure networks.
The software startup had announced a week previously that it had raised $28.8 million (A$42m) in further funding from existing investors, including ex-Macquarie Group CEO and Willow chairman Nicholas Moore and former CEO of Brookfield Properties, Ric Clark. This was however at a lower valuation to its pre-Series B round in September 2021, which valued the company at more than $170 million. Total disclosed funding now amounts to at least $US110 million.
The latest investment round follows a recent recalibration of Willow’s strategy to focus on its largest growth area, digital twin technologies for real estate and smart facilities.
“Digital Twins have many applications, but this is a time for sharp focus on where we are uniquely positioned to win,” Willow Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Joshua Ridley said.
Earlier in 2022, Willow had announced expansion in the U.S. market, with Joshua Ridley relocating to North Texas to lead the company from Dallas amid rapid growth in the North American Proptech and digital twin market.
Texas is increasingly becoming a powerhouse for technology and innovation, with Dallas being of particular importance, as it is central to major North American customers and partners, and is a hub for Willow’s growth in the critical infrastructure sector.
Willow’s North American customer base includes some of the world’s largest owners of real estate and critical infrastructure including Brookfield Properties, as well as several Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft. The company also boasts several campus and stadium precincts including the newly completed SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles. The 2-year WillowTwin project, completed in Jan 2021, was described in an earlier Memoori article on Digital Twins in August 2021.
In June 2022, as part of its strategy to capitalize on the proptech, sustainability and ESG markets in Europe, Willow established its first office in Lyon, France. Willow’s presence in Europe also includes their office in London and European headquarters in Amersfoort, Netherlands.
This revised focus on digital twin platforms for Commercial Real Estate would appear to mean that Willow will no longer be addressing the rail, mining and critical infrastructure markets.
This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.