13 Sep 2018

Tech hardware giant’s VC arm invests in Beekeeper

By its own admission, “a diverse group of strategic investors” were involved in a $13 million Series A extension for employee communication platform Beekeeper.

One name of note is Samsung Next, the venture capital arm of the South Korean conglomerate.

Beekeeper has a presence in a number of verticals, including hospitality. Use cases highlighted include “a team app, employee portal, group messaging app, and workforce platform.”

Clients include Marriott, InterContinental and Hilton. Outside of hospitality it works with Heathrow Airport.

A post on the Samsung Next blog, Why We Invested in Beekeeper, says:

“We believe [Beekeeper] is the first company to pull together communication and collaboration tools, as well as core business processes and a marketplace of integrations, into a single, mobile-first platform.”

It would make sense for Samsung to  have an interest in a mobile platforms for workers, seeing as it is “the leading global smartphone vendor”. Beekeeper’s press release says that 75% of the world’s workforce use personal mobile devices for work-related use, while the blog post talks about “pairing [Samsung] devices with Beekeeper’s platform.”

The news resonates with some trends in hospitality and travel, with Samsung’s line about “a marketplace of integrations” a familiar refrain. Many vendors are talking about the need for hotel operations, the CRS and the PMS to be more connected. A dedicated mobile platform for “non-desk” employees could ensure that any communication – late cancellation, big group arriving early, VIP guest hasn’t told us they are gluten intolerant – can be transmitted to the right team.

The changing workforce has prompted many TMCs to rethink their development roadmap to make sure they are fit for purpose as Millennials become the biggest demographic in the workplace. This digitally native group have an expectation that their working life will be as oriented around mobile platforms as their personal life.

And lets not forget Airbnb for Work, which recently announced a range of new products and services beyond its core accommodation offer for business travellers.

The addressable market is also huge – Beekeeper reckons there are nearly two billion non-desk workers  “who have been forgotten when it comes to digitalization within companies.”

Samsung’s involvement in the new digitized workforce space is interesting rather than material. It is one of six participants in the $13 million round, not including the two named lead investors, so its investment is slight. But with so many partnerships emerging across the hospitality and travel tech landscape – particularly within corporate travel – Samsung is another one to watch.





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