Katerra to lay off 117 in Seattle as construction startup reportedly closes

June 2, 2021

By: The Working Forest Staff

BLOOMBERG — Construction technology company Katerra is laying off 117 workers in Seattle, according to the state Employment Security Department, following reports Tuesday that the California-based venture is shutting down despite having raised about $2 billion from backers such as Japanese mega-investor SoftBank.

A WARN notice filed with the employment department gives June 4 as the date for the job losses, attributing them to closure.

Bloomberg News reported that the richly funded company, which operated in several U.S. markets and in nations from India to Saudi Arabia, was closing. It cited an unidentified person familiar with its plans, and an earlier report by The Information. Katerra “had promised to shake up the construction industry with its efficient factories, prefab parts, and modular construction units,” Bloomberg reported.

In Washington state, Katerra last summer completed the state’s first-ever office building constructed of cross-laminated timber, a technique for sandwiching layers of wooden planks to make structural panels touted as an environmentally sustainable alternative to concrete and steel. The five-story Catalyst Building contains 150,000 square feet of offices occupied primarily by Eastern Washington University.

Katerra established a 270,000-square-foot factory for cross-laminated timber in Spokane, opened in 2019, and described as the largest in North America. 

But the company also drew numerous complaints last spring about overcrowding of workers on a $140 million project of apartments and senior-living units in Kirkland during the early stages of the pandemic.

Bloomberg reported that Katerra and SoftBank had no immediate comment on the company’s plans.

 

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