View, a 13-year-old, Milpitas, Calif.-based company that makes dynamic glass designed to reduce heat and glare as well as lessen eyestrain, has cut an unknown number of employees, including at a plant in Olive Branch, Mississippi.
One employee of several years, an IT manager, wrote on LinkedIn that he was laid off owing to the pandemic. Another employee of the company — an engineer and project manager — wrote on LinkedIn that he has also been laid off and that the company “really cleaned house.”
This individual added that several other “long timers” had also lost their jobs.
One of the former View employees confirmed the layoff but offered that he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company. A request for help from the company’s head of communications went unreturned today.
View — which touts its glass as a way for real estate owners to attract commercial tenants as well to improve energy consumption by up to 20 percent — is among a large stable of companies that raised enormous amounts of capital from SoftBank’s Vision Fund over the last two years.
The funding that was provided by the outfit — $1.1 billion in early November 2018 — was notable at the time in part because it included no other investors.
The round was also announced at a trying time for the Vision Fund — roughly one month after the journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, drawing increased scrutiny of both Saudi Arabia and to the Vision Fund.
As many industry watchers will know, the Japanese conglomerate had raised nearly half the capital for its massive Vision Fund from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Though no one in Silicon Valley was willing to speak up at the time about the episode, SoftBank’s checks were presumably seen as radioactive in that moment to at least some founders.
Indeed, as the round was being announced, CEO Rao Mulpuri told Bloomberg that the deal predated Khashoggi’s murder, explaining that, “Obviously, what happened in the region there is quite concerning. But, at the same time, we’ve now built a relationship of getting to know SoftBank over a long period of time, and we are quite comfortable moving forward with this investment.”
View has been selling its glass to building owners and commercial real estate developers. On its site, it features a testimonial from a 14-person development firm in Utah named Cottonwood Partners, for example.
Real estate, as with transportation and fintech, has been a major area of interest for SoftBank. Other related portfolio companies include Katerra, a tech-driven construction company that had run into troubles well before this year, according to several reports by The Information, and Opendoor, the home-buying company that earlier today announced that it was laying off 35 percent of its employees.
Though the construction industry has been hard hit since the coronavirus first gripped the U.S. market and largely shut the nation down, it is still operating in some pockets, saved by the belief in some states and cities that certain projects constitute essential business.
Earlier this month, for example, crews were at work on apartment buildings just south of West Hollywood. Asked by the New York Times to explain, officials agreed the work was essential, while a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department called what was happening “uncharted territory for all of us.”
Before SoftBank came onto the scene, View had raised about $800 million over the years, including from Corning, Madrone Capital Partners, TIAA Investments and a New Zealand sovereign wealth fund.
Heading into its current layoff, which was announced to employees yesterday, View had roughly 600 employees, according to LinkedIn.
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