Convene buys startup that tracks people in office buildings

Boston-based Beco produces solar-powered beacons
By Konrad Putzier | May 09, 2018 11:45AM

Ryan Simonetti, Tom Zampini and Chris Kelly (Credit: LinkedIn)

Convene has a new tool in its fight for office services supremacy: small, solar-powered devices that track the movement of people in buildings.

The company, which manages common spaces in office buildings, announced Wednesday that it acquired the Boston-based startup Beco, which produces the beacon device and accompanying software. Beco’s CEO Tom Zampini was named Convene’s chief product officer.

Convene, founded in 2009 as Sentry Centers by Ryan Simonetti and Chris Kelly, counts landlords like the Durst Organization and Brookfield Property Partners among its clients and has raised $119.2 million from investors to-date. The firm manages meeting rooms, common amenities and co-working spaces in office towers and is currently beta-testing an operating system for buildings.

In a statement, Zampini said the combined company is “uniquely positioned to create an integrated technology platform for Class A building owners.”

Convene’s investment in Beco comes as office services companies like WeWork and landlords race to collect and analyze data on office usage, with an eye on designing more efficient, enjoyable spaces. “If you’re not a company that’s going after data,” Kelly told The Real Deal in November, “you’re going to fall behind.”

Kelly envisions an “empathetic” office building that recognizes who walks into a room, and adjusts shades and temperature accordingly — and perhaps even places a coffee order. By tracking who is where, beacon devices can supply the data to help make that vision a reality.