Upstart Expanding

Upstart leased an entire office building in Easton, in Columbus, Ohio, and are doubling staff to more than one thousand employees.
They had topped 500 jobs already, and are expanding further now:

With this expansion, Upstart is on track to have more than 250,000 square feet of total office space in the City of Columbus. As the company continues to further develop its AI lending platform through relationships with banks, the Columbus Region has become the market of focus for its operations growth, doubling its Columbus workforce.

“We’ve been thrilled with Upstart’s ability to recruit exceptional technical and operational talent in Columbus, particularly when that talent comes with a Midwest-style work ethic,” said Upstart Co-Founder and CEO Dave Girouard. “In just a couple years, Columbus has become Upstart’s HQ2 and our largest office.”

From
https://columbusregion.com/press-releases/upstart-doubles-wo…

Also, snippets from a bizjournals.com article:
“The quality of candidates we’ve been able to continue to find have blown away the most optimistic projections, at scale,” said Grant Schneider, data scientist who leads the Columbus operation.

Upstart also has expanded to four floors in its Short North office that opened in 2018. That renovation should be ready in October; the goal for the Easton space is January.

“With some of the success we’ve had, the operations team tends to scale directly with the business,” Schneider said. “It became apparent we needed a lot more space.”

Columbus already surpassed the headcount of the company’s San Mateo, California, headquarters this spring.

The Short North office has more of the engineering staff, while Easton will house customer-facing operations like underwriting.

“It definitely won’t feel like a call center,” Schneider said.

https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2021/10/04/upstart…

LONG Upstart,
Luís

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Upstart leased an entire office building in Easton, in Columbus, Ohio, and are doubling staff to more than one thousand employees. They had topped 500 jobs already, and are expanding further now… Upstart also has expanded to four floors in its Short North office that opened in 2018. That renovation should be ready in October; the goal for the Easton space is January. The Short North office has more of the engineering staff, while Easton will house customer-facing operations like underwriting… Columbus already passed the headcount of Upstarts California headquarters this spring.

This post has 54 recs but no following posts. I don’t think many people have stopped to consider how super important this information is. My take is that Upstart now leasing an entire new office building on top of an expansion in another office of several floors, and hiring like mad is a clear sign that their business is currently booming and, perhaps even more important, that they see no major problems on the horizon. People don’t take on all that extra space if they feel at all uncertain. For what it’s worth, I added a tiny amount to my already way oversized position today.

Saul

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Great find, Luís!

“We’ve been thrilled with Upstart’s ability to recruit exceptional technical and operational talent in Columbus, particularly when that talent comes with a Midwest-style work ethic,” said Upstart Co-Founder and CEO Dave Girouard. “In just a couple years, Columbus has become Upstart’s HQ2 and our largest office.”

This one paragraph is what caught my eye. They’re in Columbus, Ohio. And they are recruiting highly technical people. There is currently a HUGE shortage of these types on both coasts. Silicon Valley has been complaining of the “too many jobs to fill, not enough qualified candidates” problem for years.

I am in the Boston area, another huge tech mecca, and currently have openings both in my company, and on my team, and we’re struggling to find qualified candidates. This is NOT a good problem to have when you’re supposed to be a fast-moving tech company. Everything revolves around speed of execution and scale. And those two things are intricately related; (“tightly coupled” in tech-speak). If you can execute quickly, you can’t scale. If you can’t scale, you can’t execute quickly. It is a either a self re-enforcing flywheel, or a slow, downward spiral, that’s how inter-related these characteristics are.

And Upstart, in OHIO, the “middle of nowhere”, from a high-tech perspective, is consistently able to attract and hire top-tier talent! This speaks volumes in my opinion about their ability to compete with the likes of other high-tech start-ups financially, culturally, etc. to sway people choosing between all of the possible opportunities they have.

They have the money, the culture, the leadership, the benefits, etc. to attract the top-tier talent. In Ohio…

(note: Ohio isn’t as backwater as I might make it sound. My point is, no one thinks of it as a high-tech mecca like they do with SV, Boston, or RTP.)


Paul - Long UPST

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The office space expansion is interesting to me. I’ve watched/read so many UPST interviews now that I don’t remember where it was said, but I remember them saying that they had re-thought returning to in-person work and were encouraging remote so that they could take advantage of the very best talent, wherever they were.

Now they’re greatly expanding their physical space. Which could mean a several things:

  1. They changed their minds again and lots of people want to live in Columbus, OH. This is not that far-fetched, as Columbus was #59 of the 150 best places to live: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/ohio/columbus.

  2. Perhaps no one is moving to Columbus. Columbus, OH is the home of Ohio State University, which appears to have a robust Computer Science and Engineering Program, which sits ranked at #27 on the 2022 list of US News and World Report’s best colleges issue: https://cbe.osu.edu/news/2021/09/ohio-state-engineering-cont….

Here is their Artificial Intelligence Program: https://cse.osu.edu/research/artificial-intelligence

Perhaps they are nabbing the best and brightest as they graduate and they never leave Columbus at all. Maybe they are partnering with the university in some way. Might they have interns from OSU working at Upstart?

  1. Maybe their tech workforce works wherever they want, but other support staff are needed on site and the space is for that ever-expanding pool.

Thinking outside the box is what got Upstart to where they are. My money is on option 2. They’re engaged with OSU somehow and are pulling in their top Computer Science and Engineering graduates before anyone else even knows who they are. Maybe even before they graduate.

JR

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Columbus is a banking hub with much technology talent. JP Morgan Chase has a very large technology and operation campus just north of downtown and Huntington Bank has a similar, but somewhat smaller, facility in Easton. Also, Ohio State and other colleges are a source of local up and coming IT talent. The availability of high quality technology talent, along with the midwest work ethic and lower cost of living, makes this a natural spot for Upstart’s growth.

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I can confirm the banking hub. Back in the mid-80’s I worked for a banking headhunter in Bethesda, MD. Every other person we were looking for was needed in Columbus. I almost mentioned it in my post, but thought the info was likely too old. I guess that hasn’t changed!

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Columbus is also known as the “retail capital” of the country because of its centralized location for distribution centers. And it’s 5th on this list of top 20 states having Fortune 500 companies . . . surprisingly, higher ranked than NJ.
https://thebossmagazine.com/states-fortune-500-headquarters/…

So, along with graduates from Ohio State, Columbus should have a healthy population of techies.

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