MARE ISLAND, Calif., Nov. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Factory_OS announced today that it has raised $55 million in Series B funding from six tech and finance industry giants—Autodesk Inc., Citi, Facebook, Google, Morgan Stanley and round leader Lafayette Square. The investment will help Factory_OS accelerate growth and further integrate digital technologies to build multifamily housing using a safer, more sustainable, less expensive and more efficient construction process.
Acting on the belief that housing should be built more like cars, Factory_OS takes an integrated, industrialized and tech-enabled approach to removing barriers throughout the housing development process. The San Francisco Bay Area–based company has an active research and development program and incorporates design, technology, construction and workforce innovations in pursuit of its vision: to change how we build housing. Factory_OS is committed to delivering high-quality, tech-ready, cost-effective multifamily housing that is more environmentally friendly and creates new living-wage jobs, resulting in far-reaching community benefits.
Building on success: Factory_OS delivers 20% to 40% savings on multifamily housing
The three-year-old company has already proven its concept of high-quality off-site factory construction combined with rapid onsite installation in the Bay Area, the nation’s most expensive housing market.
Factory_OS has built nearly 1,000 units to date, including supportive, affordable, student and market-rate housing. In addition to driving down production costs by 20% to 40%, Factory_OS can erect a 100-unit apartment building in less than 10 days, delivering housing over 40% faster than conventional construction can. The company expects to cut costs by 50% over the next year as its partnership with Autodesk enables further integration of the design, technology and construction processes. That cost savings doubles the amount of housing that Factory_OS can create with the same investment.
“With a shared vision of improving construction outcomes through technology, we’re excited to build on our original investment in Factory_OS to improve the home-building process, from design through fabrication and supply chain management,” said Andrew Anagnost, CEO of Autodesk. “Our two-way collaboration not only helps us improve our products, but also helps ensure more homes can be built faster, less expensively and more sustainably. Factory_OS is a 350,000-square-foot laboratory that enables us to continue proving innovations in construction.”
Creating a framework for systems change: technology and beyond
The capital infusion will enable Factory_OS to ramp up manufacturing in its second Mare Island facility; invest in robotic and other advanced technology initiatives for both facilities; expand into Los Angeles; and open a housing innovation center that will model technology and design advances as well as partner on research and education activities to spur industry adoption of housing innovations.
Working with the established production ecosystem to drive efficiency, quality and equity across the board is core to Factory_OS’s approach. “By retooling multifamily housing production from beginning to end, we’re supporting everyone involved with construction—architects, engineers, general contractors, union workers—to do what they do faster and more efficiently,” said Rick Holliday, CEO of Factory_OS. “We aim to have an impact on housing costs that goes beyond construction, so we’re also engaging with policy and finance players to create a comprehensive framework that everyone can benefit from.”
“Bringing innovation to the sector is vital, as housing instability has worsened amid the pandemic,” said Jeremy Johnson, co-head of Citi Community Capital. “By changing the way housing is built, we believe Factory_OS will bring more efficient and lower-cost delivery of multifamily units to the neighborhoods where we live and work. We’re proud to be a part of this effort and look forward to making homes more affordable for our communities.”
Expanding the union workforce: Factory_OS provides living wages, lifeline jobs
Factory_OS sees its workforce approach as essential to achieving its vision. Through its partnership with the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, Factory_OS employs 500 union workers earning competitive wages and benefits. And through its unique training programs with the union and redefined construction process, Factory_OS has expanded the depleted construction workforce to make it more gender and racially diverse and more accessible to a broader employee base.
“As Factory_OS’s first partner, we’re excited to share the benefit of these companies’ expertise in finance and technology,” said Bob Alvarado, executive secretary-treasurer of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “We embrace technology and are proud to work with Factory_OS to grow the workforce, enhance skills and productivity, and create new middle-class jobs with living wages and benefits.”
Investing for impact: making multifamily housing affordable and sustainable
Factory_OS investors are strongly motivated by the company’s enormous potential impact.
“Facebook builds and supports communities,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s vice president of global facilities and real estate. “Our investment in Factory_OS—an innovator building technology to bring down the cost of housing construction—is part of our broader company initiative to help fund scalable and affordable solutions that will help to alleviate the housing crisis in California.”
Damien Dwin, CEO and founder of Lafayette Square Holding, called it “meaningful and exciting” that the impact-driven asset management platform’s first investment is in Factory_OS.
“Our strategic partnership is a great first step in fundamentally changing the business of housing,” he said. “Looking at the industry from 360 degrees—from design and development, to financing and construction, to resident services and employment—is key to creating a sustainable model that elevates our communities.”
Factory_OS is taking a systems-based approach to fixing the affordable housing shortage, starting with an off-site construction and on-site installation process that results in higher quality, lower costs and faster completion than conventional construction. Through its housing innovation center and partnerships, Factory_OS is retooling all aspects of multifamily housing development, including policy and financing, with the goal of driving even greater efficiency while increasing environmental performance and enhancing livability. With a core belief that a home is the foundation of individual and family well-being, Factory_OS puts social equity at the core of its business model: In addition to building affordable housing, the company creates living-wage union jobs and actively recruits second-chance workers.
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