by JONATHAN BARNES, for BuiltWorlds | Dec 29, 2015
Christmas came early for San Francisco-based Flux Factory Inc. On Dec. 21, the AEC tech startup that sprang from Google in 2012 announced that it has raised $29 million in Series B financing. The effort was co-led by Singapore’s Temasek and Surbana Jurong Private Limited, with other investors including Far East Ventures, DFJ, South Park Ventures, Borealis Ventures, and Obvious Ventures.
As part of the funding package, Nina Yang, COO of Singapore-based Singbridge, will also join Flux’s board of directors. Yang has 25 years of experience in urban planning and building design.
As BuiltWorlds reported here three months ago, Flux was developed at Google[x], the global search giant’s semi-secret research lab outside its corporate campus in Mountain View CA. It spun off on its own nearly four years ago, aiming to provide cloud-based collaboration tools to help architects, contractors and engineers all to exchange data easier and improve design workflows. Flux’s cloud-based service is intended to help architects, contractors and engineers easily exchange data. It also aims to tackle the exponentially growing need for more affordable and sustainable urban housing worldwide.
Chim: Users to grow.
“Collaboration tools are critical infrastructure elements for addressing this urgent need,” explains Flux co-founder Nicholas Chim. “Our industry needs to work together to develop new methodologies to meet the coming demand… (So) we’re seeing a lot of interest in interoperability, which is a bit of a mindset [change] for people in the industry.”
Flux has grown to 30 employees already, but what will happen with the new capital? Chim says the firm will continue to invest in research and development, but it will also spend more on marketing now. Previously, Flux had also received funding from Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. Industry partners include ARUP, Turner, and Gensler.
“Flux has the potential to become the Google Translator of the digital design world,” says Gensler digital design specialist Chang-Yeon Cho. “As the design industry is facing ever-increasing options of design software platforms, the premise of Flux is an important one—the ability to stream data from one software platform to another via the cloud. [That] presents exciting possibilities in ways professionals collaborate and explore their designs.”
The ability to manage multiple sets of raw data in one place, and then “live stream” it to multiple users is a real difference-maker, explains Cho.
In effect, Flux serves as an interchange point to share project info including architectural programs, schematic designs, materials schedules, and analysis models. Right now, Flux plugins work with Excel, Dynamo, and Grasshopper. By late January 2016, more plugins will begin to be tested by a select group of users, who will be able to sample plugins for Revit, AutoCAD, 3ds Max, and Sketchup.
Does Chim find the new funding to be a vindication? Not by itself, he says, but it is still encouraging.
More plugins, marketing ahead
Currently, the company has hundreds of customers. But many more are likely to come on board soon. “There are some users waiting for those plugins,” Chim says. “I think adding more plugins will help it be more useful… We have lots and lots of users out there. We need to get the word out.”
So far, companies already using Flux are finding it to be very helpful.
“Before Flux, we were cobbling multiple tools together to transfer project data between design and documentation platforms, which was largely an ad hoc process,” says Brian Ringley, a design technology platform specialist at Woods Bagot, the global architecture firm based in Adelaide, Australia. “Flux has offered us a single framework within which all of our project data transactions can take place, giving us a more generalizable interoperability strategy that’s easier to disseminate to our project teams around the globe… [It] helps us to deliver more complex projects faster, with no regional limitations on whose expertise we can include on a project.”
With ample new funding now secured in the pipeline, Chim and his partners expect many more such testimonials in the months and years to come.
Based in Pittsburgh, the author is a freelance business journalist who writes about construction technology for BuiltWorlds. A former construction worker who grew up working in the trades, Barnes has reported for decades, contributing to ENR, Reuters, Fortune and other publications.
He can be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter at @Barnestormin.
Note: This article is from the BuiltWorlds archives. Some links, images, and text may not appear or function as originally published.
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