Things were not looking good a few months ago for Fieldlens, the site documentation and project markup tool once referred to as the “Facebook of Construction.” Following its acquisition by real estate and technology start-up WeWork in 2017, Fieldlens stopped seeking new users, as the new owners planned to adapt it into an internal tool. But dwindling prospects for WeWork over the last couple of years led the company to announce in September that it was shutting down the Fieldlens service, leaving the remaining non-WeWork customers in the lurch. But the Fieldlens mobile app has found a second life, as project management and collaboration software maker RedTeam announced in December it has acquired the full Fieldlens technology stack and will continue to operate the service going forward.
“We felt it wouldn’t be right to let this product go away. It’s got value for the marketplace,” says Frederic Guitton, chief strategy officer for RedTeam. “We don’t know [WeWork’s] thinking, but we knew the platform was going to be shut down, so it seemed like a good opportunity to acquire it since it’s a good product and aligned perfectly with what we already have set for RedTeam.”
The deal includes all of Fieldlens’ technology, and RedTeam plans to migrate existing users over to a new stand-alone app. “We got the entire technology stack from [WeWork], so customers can continue to stay on the platform if they wish,” says Guitton. While RedTeam is still in talks with Fieldlens’ user base, Guitton expects at least 70% of its existing customers will stay on the platform going forward.
“Overall, we feel the brand has built a good reputation and following. We aim to carry forward the legacy that Fieldlens has built, in a way reboot Fieldlens for a broader market,” says Guitton.
Fieldlens was being used as an internal tool in WeWork’s facilities management and construction division, so there is some work to be done to make it a stand-alone app once more, says Michael Wright, RedTeam CEO. “A big part of this process is extracting the software from [WeWork’s] platform. But it is still actively used. We are seeing more than 20,000 active account log ins per day.”
As it fields inquiries from existing users, RedTeam has been reassuring Fieldlens customers that it plans to keep it as a separate app and brand. “[WeWork] and RedTeam are working closely to ensure no disruption of service,” says Guitton, "“There's been good collaboration to ensure a smooth transition both in terms of the customer as well as the product technology.” He adds that API integrations to link it to RedTeam’s platform will come later this year. “The intention is for both [RedTeam's and Fieldlens'] platforms to exist in collaboration.”
Fieldlens was originally touted as a way to streamline project documentation on site. Users on jobsites could quickly make posts with photos and annotations on the status of the project, and these observations are collected in daily reports. Punchlists could be generated and run through in a simple mobile interface. At a time when many workers on site struggled with paper documentation and endless email chains, the app gained a loyal following of industry users.
“Looking at Fieldlens’ history, when they were acquired their sales division effectively shut down,” says Guitton. “But companies continued to acquire and get on the platform and stay on the platform. This product really fits some existing market demands.”
“I’m just happy that the people who rely on this product will still have access to it,” says Doug Chambers, who co-founded Fieldlens in 2011. After the acquisition, Chambers did not stay on the Fieldlens team. He has since left WeWork and is currently working on a new venture. “I was very disappointed in the way WeWork was handling the sunsetting [of Fieldlens], and the fact that there is a late save here is great,” he says. “I hope RedTeam sticks with it.”
For RedTeam, the acquisition is about not only preserving an existing customer base, but also building out the company’s broader offerings for the field user. “This is an acceleration in our longtime product road map,” says Wright. Fieldlens’ focus on the needs of field users is a complement to RedTeam’s office-based project management tools, he adds. “Our plan was to move to the field eventually—this helps accelerate that process.” RedTeam says it will be able to onboard new Fieldlens customers by late February, and will assist any customers that want to reactivate their old accounts.
RedTeam has also been busy building out its own software offerings. It recently launched TeamPlayer, which is designed to improve collaboration between general contractors and subcontractors. TeamPlayer allows for general contractors to perform approvals by line item, saving time in the progress billing process.
The text of this article has been updated.