A growing beast

Billion-dollar tech startup wades into downtown Austin with new campus

Billion-dollar tech startup wades into downtown Austin with new campus

Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin
Photo by David Hensley/Getty Images

A “unicorn” — a startup valued at $1 billion or more — that sells home insurance online is building a new home for its Austin workforce that eventually could house 310 employees.

Hippo, based in Palo Alto, California, already maintains offices in Austin, but now, the “insuretech” startup is beefing up its local presence. Work is underway on a 40,000-square-foot office campus at Fifth and Sabine streets in downtown Austin that’s scheduled to open by the end of 2021.

The new Austin campus will enable the startup to more than double the size of its local workforce.

This year alone, Hippo envisions adding 100 employees companywide to its current 280-person workforce. Today, 145 employees work from a downtown office at 522 Congress Ave. that the startup opened in 2017. If the company fills up its new downtown space, that would translate into 165 more employees here.

Hippo’s current job postings in Austin include roles in sales, customer support, claims, IT, training, and social media. The Capital City location serves as the company’s customer service hub.

“Austin really fit Hippo’s mentality of a modern tech center,” Rick McCathron, the company’s Austin-based chief insurance officer, told the Built In news website. “It has strong a strong insurance presence and is located in the Central time zone, which allows us to better serve our customers throughout the country. What Hippo is trying to do is modern, and Austin is a modern place.”

Hippo aims to take the company public next year through an IPO.

On July 21, the company announced it had raised a $150 million round of venture capital, bringing its total investment haul to nearly $360 million since it was founded in 2015. It is now valued at $1.5 billion.

Hippo forecasts its 2020 revenue will exceed $100 million, according to the Bloomberg news service. Aside from selling home insurance, Hippo operates a home maintenance division.

“We don’t want to be just an insurance company,” CEO Assaf Wand told the Silicon Valley Business Journal in June. “I want to be your 1-800 for everything to do with your home.”