Britain wins race to host global HQ of software unicorn Figma
BRITAIN will land a new unicorn startup in London from Silicon Valley as Figma, a rival to US software company Adobe, is to unveil its international headquarters in the capital this week.
The $2bn (£1.5bn) start-up, founded in San Francisco in 2012 and dubbed the “Google Docs for designers”, offers a web-based app that allows teams to collaborate on visual projects, rivalling software sold by Adobe.
Figma is setting up its international base in London amid a surge in demand for its software in the UK, where it has grown 86pc since Jan 1 amid a slew of sign-ups from customers in cities such as Leicester, Sheffield, Manchester and Bristol looking for new digital tools to support staff working from home.
To date, the company has raised $133m from a string of high-profile backers, including Silicon Valley investment giants Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. It expects to have 20 workers in London by the end of the year. Figma is hoping the move to London will help it establish greater contact with its users, 80pc of whom are outside the US. Among its business clients are British firms such as BT and Deliveroo, as well as listed companies including Spotify and Uber.
Dylan Field, co-founder and chief executive of the firm, said the move to London and boom in demand for its services came at a critical time, as the pandemic had accelerated a shift online for businesses, with an “entire world economy becoming digital”.
“We’re seeing this tremendous growth in designers across the world and I think it might be a reaction to the mega-trend of everything in the world becoming more digital,” he said.
Businesses have been forced to adapt their services in recent months as lockdown restrictions globally to curb the spread of coronavirus have driven a boom in software use.
Danny Rimer, a partner at Index Ventures and one of the earliest backers of Figma, supported Mr Field’s view that the company’s office in the English capital would help it offer greater service to its growing customer base in the UK.
“This office is being established to provide better support and account management to their customers,” he said. “More importantly, London’s vibrant tech and design scene will make it easier for the company to hire great talent.”
Several other overseas technology firms have settled on London recently for their international base but it remains unclear if ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, will press ahead with its own.
The firm was looking for a new 30,000 sq ft office in the capital and planned to treble its staff to 1,000.
However, uncertainty over its future, amid rising political tensions between the US and Beijing, have cast doubt on the plans.