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A community meetup spot where buyers and sellers finish off transactions in OfferUp’s Bellevue HQ. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

For the first time, unicorn e-commerce startup OfferUp is putting down roots outside of its hometown.

OfferUp announced plans to open an office in Miami and hire engineers to work on new tools and APIs for small businesses. OfferUp is evolving to add more businesses to its platform; a prominent example being the popular Autos section that launched last year and features alliances with used-car dealers.

OfferUp hired Rodrigo Violante, the former CTO of PriceTravel and Televisa, to lead the new Miami office under the title of director of engineering. He reports directly to OfferUp CTO Ameesh Paleja, the former CTO at Starz and founder of Atom Tickets who joined the company in March.

OfferUp’s Miami office will be based out of a co-working space in the popular Wynwood district. The company is starting with 16 new positions for engineer managers, senior software development engineers and staff software development engineers.

“Our goal is to build this team rapidly and we’re starting by hiring new software developers to help us meet our aggressive goals,” OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar said in a statement. “Miami is a hotbed for tech talent and we’re proud to be one of the first companies to bring West Coast start-up culture to the city.”

(Bigstock Photo)

Miami is one of the most active OfferUp markets, with more than 15 percent of residents using the service on a monthly basis, the company said.

Right now, OfferUp has 260 employees, all based out of the company’s Bellevue, Wash. headquarters, including approximately 100 engineers.

OfferUp has been adding new features and capabilities to differentiate its 8-year-old mobile marketplace from competitors, including Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Last month, the company began a national rollout of a new service called “Hold Offers” that lets buyers reserve items with an authorized payment before meeting up in person. The extra protection against “flaky buyers and sellers,” as the company calls them, lets users complete the transaction via QR code that is hooked up to a credit card or mobile payment solution like Apple Pay or Google Pay when the in-person exchange occurs.

OfferUp has grown to become one of the top shopping apps in the iOS and Android app stores, alongside giants such as Amazon and Walmart. The app has been downloaded more than 80 million times, and OfferUp has 44 million users.

But OfferUp is facing some serious competition from companies with more name recognition and bigger audiences. Rival eBay has 182 million “active buyers,” according to its most recent earnings report. Craigslist had 60 million users as of early 2018, and Facebook Marketplace is a sleeping giant that only needs to capture a sliver of the company’s massive audience of nearly 2.4 billion monthly active users to be a major force.

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