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Pesto Spices Up Digital Workplaces So Remote Work Isn’t So…Remote

As our world of work sees more and more shifts towards the metaverse, Pesto, formerly known as Pragli, is jumping in with his avatar approach to making remote work a little less lonely.

“Zoom fatigue” was real for Doug Safreno and his co-founder, Vivek Nair, who started debating the idea of ​​a company in 2019 and made it official a year later. Their idea is a digitally native human workplace where employees can customize an avatar in the workplace, with the idea that the avatar would replace video and be less tiring and more enjoyable, CEO Safreno explained via email. mail.

The “workplace” would include a variety of employee-created rooms that would be organized spaces for audio-first collaboration that include screen sharing, video, gaming, or spatial functionality.

“We founded Pesto because we were tired of being stuck between text chat tools and video conferencing,” Safreno added. “Text chat was frustrating because there was so much back and forth and it took a long time for anything to happen, and video conferencing felt too formal and involved too much work to plan. It’s not no longer fun – it’s sucking and demoralizing.Pesto is a more humane way to work remotely.

Nearly two years later, the company’s early work is paying off as it now works with more than 10,000 teams at companies like Enhatch, Sortify.tm, HiHello, FullStory, aiPass and Tidal Migrations, with users having recorded over 100 million audio and video minutes.

Today the company announced $5 million in seed funding, led by Headline, with participation from K9 Ventures, Rucker Park Capital, NextView Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Correlation Ventures, Garrett Lord, Nikil Viswanathan and Joe Lau .

Safreno says the world has “seen the biggest change in the way people work since the industrial revolution.” With offices remaining less than 20% occupied, he thinks most employees are unlikely to return to in-person work, but must use tools created for this purpose. In contrast, Pesto was designed to fit into the future of work, one in which people collaborate and interact more digitally than in person, he added.

He was unwilling to disclose profitability or revenue figures, but said the company has eight employees, down from just two founders a year ago.

The new funding gives Pesto a total of $6 million in investments. It will be used to hire product design and engineering teams and for product development, including building features that deepen the experience of a working metaverse and targeting large enterprises that have collaboration needs. more complex.

Pesto is currently free for users, but later this year it will introduce a paid tier.

Headline partner Jett Fein often searches for companies that have “obsessed user bases” and saw it at Pesto.

It doesn’t seem like remote work is going anywhere, so there’s a need for “more authentic and collaborative tools,” he added. He was drawn to Pesto because he believes it solves the fatigue issues with video conferencing and the lack of collaborative spaces that plague many businesses and employees.

As such, he believes the hallmarks of the company’s Metaverse are its ability to bring some of that “natural, fluid human interaction back into the workplace”, which will be expected as more more companies are investing in this type of employee interaction in the years to come.

“Doug, Vivek and Daniel [Liem, founder/head of product] have created a platform that is truly built for the future of work,” Fein said. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen the pros and cons of working with distributed teams. Although we have gained freedom and flexibility, we have lost the sense of camaraderie and unplanned conversation typically found in the workplace. Pesto is a response to these challenges and creates a future in which collaborating and working together remotely can feel the same, if not more effective, than being in person.

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