How Workrise is Absorbing Complexity to Bring the Energy Industry Into the Future
By Mike Witte and Xuan Yong, Co-Founders
When it comes to energy, our world is at an inflection point. Energy has gone from background noise to headline news: Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we read about global oil and gas shortages. We see it when it’s time to pay at the pump. We feel it when we have to do mental calculations on just how cold our families can stand to be before we heat our homes and face staggering bills.
Workrise, too, is at an inflection point. The company has been evolving ever since we founded it eight years ago with the dream of serving as a workforce and vendor management platform for Oil & Gas. We’ve grown, learned, stumbled at times, pivoted when needed. Now, after eight years of big wins, tough losses, and invaluable lessons, we are hard at work on our next chapter — and it is mission-critical for us and for the world. We are now laser-focused on helping the biggest players in energy, specifically Oil & Gas companies, work faster and more efficiently both for their shareholders and for our global energy future.
Why is this mission-critical when there’s so much talk of the shift to renewable energy and the climate treaties whose deadlines are fast approaching? Because Oil & Gas companies will lead the energy transition. This might spark an argument, or at least an eye roll, from those who have cast Oil & Gas as the villains in a cinematic version of our global disaster drama. But at Workrise we follow facts, not politics or polemics.
Sweeping changes are required in order to transform the way the world produces and consumes energy. To achieve change at this level, we need organizations capable of building extremely complex technical solutions for energy production. We need people who are in the business of energy. Only the BPs, Chevrons, and Shells of the world have the capital and the expertise to deliver projects on a scale that will move the needle for our planet.
That’s why we are serving the biggest companies in energy across both workforce and vendor management. We have gotten very good at what we do, which is absorbing much of the supply chain complexity these companies face. This helps them work more efficiently, which makes it easier, faster, and safer to get energy projects done. But we believe we can do more — and we’re working hard on getting there. By supporting Oil & Gas companies where they are now, our aim is to empower them to address not only the pressing energy needs of the short term, but also to innovate to build a better future for all.
How We Got Here
Before diving deeper into our mission to support the Oil & Gas industry as it shapes the future, let’s reflect briefly on the journey that brought us here. After founding the company, then called RigUp, in 2014, we saw the skilled labor gap creating a huge pain point for the economy, the industry, and the workers who had skills and commitment but no longer had a way to drive sustainable, rewarding careers.
We created a workforce management solution which — while initially focused on Oil & Gas — expanded into additional sectors driven in part by the pressure created by the global pandemic. We renamed the company Workrise. We placed tens of thousands of workers in jobs of all types, from heavy equipment operators and pipefitters to drilling supervisors and welding inspectors. We were proud to support the workers who get the hard work done in all corners of the energy industry.
Then the world changed. We saw the need for end-to-end energy solutions, looked at everything we’d been building since the beginning, and realized how uniquely positioned we were to deliver exactly that. Workrise is now on phenomenal footing, and recently enjoyed the two best quarters in company history. We are in an ideal position to rededicate ourselves to the crucial task ahead: helping the Oil & Gas industry get its jobs done today and innovate for the decades-long journey ahead.
Deep and Complex Pain Points
Oil & Gas companies face huge barriers to progress due to the complexity of energy production at scale. The process of finding, engaging, and purchasing from the vendors these companies need to operate is costly and inefficient. In our daily lives, both at home and at work, we typically can find, evaluate, and purchase what we need with very little friction. But in energy, transacting is hard. There is no market, per se. You work with who you know, and who you are approved to work with. Plus the services needed are incredibly complex and dynamic. This dynamism leads to constant disputes, back and forth, and never-ending complexity of processes and workflows. We believe this is true across many other sectors of the energy industry as well – not just Oil & Gas.
As a result of this cost and complexity, companies are forced to restrict who they work with, rather than working with the right vendor for the right job. Everyone wants and needs more options, but historically it’s been too expensive and too risky to manage a network that is continually expanding.
What this all means: The way it’s always been done just isn’t working anymore. The industry doesn’t have time for outdated processes and inefficient systems, and neither does the wider world.
Complexity Breeds Inefficiency
A typical energy project takes a long time to put together. They are complex operations that require more vendors and workers than you might imagine. A single project can require 50 unique vendors, nearly all with interdependencies, to go from land surveying to completion. Folks who do everything from inspections to mowing the lawn, hauling away waste water, providing medical services, construction and safety supervision, and so much more. One glitch with a vendor can throw an entire project into disarray, or halt work entirely.
These inefficiencies impact margins and the economics of what is viable to bring to market. If we can make energy work more efficiently, the industry can produce more today, and the transition to new and emerging energy sources will become more viable.
Workrise is uniquely equipped to address these problems.
We have a deep network spanning hundreds of vendors and thousands of workers across all the United States. Year-to-date our workforce billed nearly 14 million hours across Oil & Gas and renewables, with placements spanning over 400 unique roles. The largest producers leveraged more than 300 vendors across 86 unique service categories to accomplish their production goals.
In short: We connect the biggest companies in energy with the workers and vendors they need to execute in the field. And we streamline complicated, glacially paced processes.
Years of immersing ourselves in this work has paid off. Business is great. But the real proof is in the results: Over 60% of the largest producers across Upstream and Midstream Oil & Gas are on our network1. They are seeing an average vendor onboarding time that is over 6x faster than the industry average2, and as much as 35% lower vendor management costs compared to their existing in-house processes3. These are meaningful improvements to how business has historically been done.
A New Solution: Absorbing Complexity
Our conventional energy clients have figured out the Oil & Gas thing pretty well over the last hundred plus years. But they’re also poised to have a giant impact on the future of sustainable energy. They’re keenly aware they need to evolve, and they are working on it.
ExxonMobil has pledged $15B investment by 20274 as a first step in their bid to get to carbon neutral. ConocoPhillips5, as well as all major European producers6, have pledged to reach net zero by 2050, and have already taken steps to build towards that goal.
As these companies look to improve how they operate today, and diversify their energy portfolios outside of O&G and into new and emerging energy production sectors, the friction that comes with finding vendors and workers, engaging, and transacting only intensifies. While mature areas of their businesses may have solid networks and processes in place, the move to diversify will expose the inefficiency of expanding operations into new and relatively uncharted territories.
A Brighter Future
Today’s energy problems are big, and they require big solutions. Oil & Gas companies need to innovate in a fast-changing world. We are using all of our accumulated experience, knowledge, capital, people, and other resources to help them do this, and to move energy development to where it needs to be. But we aren’t content to stop there.
We’ve rededicated the company to a singular mission: to forge the connections that make it easier, faster, and safer to power our world. Helping Oil & Gas companies deliver increased efficiency and accelerated growth today will mean more capacity for — and capital to invest in — innovation tomorrow.
The industry is working hard to evolve, and Workrise is working hard to support that evolution. The future depends on it.
Mike Witte is the CEO of Workrise; Xuan Yong is Executive Chairman of the Board. Together they founded the Austin-based company, then known as RigUp, in 2014.
1 In Upstream Oil & Gas, the top 50 producers account for 80% of exploration and production activity, and 62% of these are on the network. In Midstream, the top 20 operators account for over 70% of Oil & Gas pipeline transmissions, and 60% of these are on the network.
2 Average onboarding time based on data from the Institute for Supply Chain Management
3 Workrise cost basis divided by industry averages from Q4 2019 – Q2 2022
4 Source: ExxonMobil
5 Source: ConocoPhillips
6 Source: NS Energy