Spring Tech Watch: 8 San Francisco Companies To Track

From fast-growing startups to established firms with hefty benefits, here’s a rundown of San Francisco’s most noteworthy people-first organizations to keep an eye on.

Written by Olivia Arnold
Published on Mar. 30, 2023
Spring Tech Watch: 8 San Francisco Companies To Track
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San Francisco Companies to Watch Spring 2023

 

Spring is blooming in San Francisco. Whether you’re admiring the cherry blossoms and magnolias in Golden Gate Park, enjoying a bike ride along Fisherman’s Wharf or cheering on the San Francisco Giants or Oakland Athletics, it might also be a good time to catch up on the movers and shakers in your local tech scene. Built In San Francisco curated eight noteworthy companies to get you started.

Despite recent high-profile layoffs and industry uncertainty, the Bay Area remains cemented as a top hub for technological innovation. San Francisco employs a staggering 378,870 tech workers, an amount that has increased 13 percent since 2016. As a result, many of the city’s tech employers are unveiling upgrades to the breadth, depth and inclusion of their culture and perks.

The SF-based companies we featured are special in many ways, but all eight have one thing in common: They are unique, people-first organizations well worth keeping on your radar in the spring season ahead.

 

 

What Warner Bros. Discovery does: The result of a 2022 merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia, Warner Bros. Discovery is a global media and entertainment company. The San Francisco-based conglomerate owns top brands in television, film, news, sports and gaming including HBO, HGTV, CNN, Animal Planet and DC Comics. 

 

THE PERKS

  • Robust parental leave and adoption assistance
  • Tuition reimbursement and continuing education stipends
  • Employee resource groups, including Discovery Women’s Network, ableDisability, Multicultural Alliance, Discovery PriDe, Parents at Discovery, Discovery GreenD, Generation D and the Discovery Veterans Association

 

Growing expert technologists: When Built In San Francisco asked Group VP of Engineering Martin Ma to describe Warner Bros. Discovery’s culture in one word, he picked “ownership.” 

“We believe in strong ownership and empowerment of the ownership across teams,” Ma said in January 2022. “We have a talent growth process through which we grow and mentor talents into specific subject-matter-expert areas, until they can own a piece of product or tech stack and truly grow their scope and impact from there.”

 

 

A woman studying on her laptop.
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What Course Hero does: Course Hero runs an online learning platform with millions of course-specific study resources for students and educators. The Redwood City-based edtech company was founded in 2006 by college student Andrew Grauer to help students graduate feeling confident and prepared. Course Hero is part of Learneo, a learning and productivity platform whose brands include CliffsNotes, LitCharts and Scribbr. 

 

THE PERKS

  • Generous PTO and sabbatical opportunities 
  • Robust parental leave with adoption assistance and a return-to-work program
  • 32 paid hours of annual volunteer time 

 

In the news: In May 2022, Course Hero won a Fast Company award for world-changing ideas in education. The company was honored for its Educator Exchange, a marketplace that enables educators to share and monetize their learning and teaching resources. 

In December 2022, Course Hero announced that John Peacock was promoted from general manager to CEO. Peacock was appointed by Co-founder Grauer, who transitioned to the CEO role at parent company Learneo. 

 

 

 

What Domino Data Lab does: Tackling challenges in industries ranging from healthcare to agriculture, Domino Data Lab powers a machine learning operations platform. The product enables clients to develop better medicines, grow more productive crops, adapt risk models to major economic shifts, build better cars, improve customer support and more. 

 

THE PERKS

  • Unlimited PTO
  • 16 weeks of parental leave for primary caregivers and 8 weeks for secondary caregivers
  • $2,000 annual continuing education stipend 

 

Encouraging authenticity and intellectual risks: Melissa Smith, senior director of human resources, said Domino Data Lab creates psychological safety in the workplace through feedback and open communication.

“We encourage our managers to practice this at all times and to always be open and honest with their team members,” Smith told Built In San Francisco in January. “In doing so, it helps to foster an environment where people can voice their thoughts, opinions and concerns without fear.” 

 

 

A woman at a store looks at her laptop,
Shutterstock

 

 

What HoneyBook does: HoneyBook supports independent service-based businesses with an all-in-one clientflow platform. Through the productivity software, small business owners are able to send invoices, accept online payments, manage projects, automate workflows and more. 

 

THE PERKS

  • Unlimited PTO
  • 16 weeks of parental leave for primary caregivers and 8 weeks for secondary caregivers
  • Mental health benefits including insurance coverage for in-person and virtual care, an employee assistance program and free subscriptions to Calm and Talkspace 

 

Mirroring members’ passion: Chief People Officer Heather McLinden told Built In San Francisco that HoneyBook teams put customers — whom they call “members” — first. 

“Our goal is always to embody our members’ spirit and passion, creating an inspiring and engaging culture,” McLinden said in November 2022. “To do this, our people team has the opportunity to creatively bring our teams together with our members to learn from them.”

 

 

 

What RIOS Intelligent Machines does: Based in Menlo Park, RIOS Intelligent Machines creates AI-powered robots that specialize in factory automation. The robotics startup was founded in 2018 by former Xerox PARC engineers who witnessed massive failures with modern robots and predicted factories would soon reach their breaking points.

 

THE PERKS

  • Flexible time off and paid holidays
  • Competitive salary package and stock options
  • Health, dental and vision insurance plans 

 

Collaboration and knowledge-sharing: Hardware Engineering Manager Nick Choi told Built In San Francisco that RIOS team members come from different industries and bring unique strengths, ranging from system-level layout and automation components to electrical design and custom robot end-of-arm tooling. 

“This allows us to play to our strengths, but at the same time learn from each member,” Choi said in June 2022. “Also, everyone in the group is great at taking initiative in introducing or refining our current processes. If anyone has a new idea they want to share, there isn’t any difficulty to get anyone’s feedback.”

 

 

A woman on her phone with many notifications.
Shutterstock

 

 

What Courier does: Built for developers, Courier is an API and web studio that allows teams to manage all product communications  — such as email, chat, push and in-app notifications —  in one place. The San Francisco-based information technology company is on a mission to “make software-to-human communication delightful.” 

 

THE PERKS

  • Unlimited PTO
  • Generous parental leave
  • 401(k) 

 

In the news: In June 2022, Courier announced that it had raised $35 million in Series B funding, which it planned to invest in improving the user experience for mobile notifications.  

 

 

 

What Kapwing does: Aiming to make content creation more accessible, Kapwing runs a collaborative video editing platform. Through its online studio, the San Francisco digital media company empowers teams to give and receive feedback, ensure brand consistency and edit videos together in real time, from any device or location. 

 

THE PERKS

  • Unlimited PTO and flexible schedules
  • Competitive health, dental and vision insurance for employees and their dependents
  • 100 percent base pay for up to 16 weeks of parental leave, with the option to take an additional four weeks unpaid 

 

Cutting-edge storytelling tools: In May 2022, Head of Product Shah Ahmed excitedly discussed Kapwing’s “Smart Cut” product, which intelligently detects silences in clients’ videos and removes them. 

“Over the last few years, we’ve been deeply focused on enabling creators to craft their stories. But a recurring pain point creators have shared in relation to this process is the tedious nature of cutting down and trimming recorded footage,” Ahmed told Built In San Francisco. “For creators, Smart Cut means editing times going from hours to minutes.” 

 

 

 

What Riiid Labs does: On a mission to rid the world of barriers to high-quality education, Riiid Labs provides AI-powered learning solutions. The edtech company was founded in 2020 following the success of South Korean startup Riiid, its parent company. The triple “i” in its name stems from a commitment to combat inefficiency, inequality and inconsistency in education. 

 

THE PERKS

  • Unlimited PTO
  • Health, dental and vision insurance 
  • 401(k) matching

 

In the news: In December 2022, The New York Times featured parent company Riiid in an article evaluating whether AI is the future of test prep. 

In an email to The Times, Riiid Founder and CEO YJ Jang wrote, “We draw insights from learning science, cognitive biology, data science and other related areas of research for an iterative experimentation process that is challenging and time consuming — that’s why there are only a few players in the market.”

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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