Amy Nelson’s experience battling Amazon inspired her to turn the Riveter into a platform to support women’s work and financial independence

March 16, 2023, 11:49 AM UTC
Riveter founder Amy Nelson.
Courtesy of the Riveter

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Honduras President Xiomara Castro is cutting ties with Taipei, a South Korean network censored Michelle Yeoh, and Amy Nelson pinpoints a new mission for the Riveter. Happy Thursday!

– Personal pivot. It’s hard to find a founder with a more chaotic pandemic experience than Amy Nelson. The founder and co-CEO of the Riveter spent 2020 figuring out how to save her company, which started as a coworking business but was forced to close its locations amid lockdowns.

Then, in April 2020 her husband was told he was the subject of a federal criminal investigation over his past employment scouting land for Amazon data centers; he was never charged. Amazon later filed a civil lawsuit alleging his involvement in a fraud and kickback scheme, which he has denied. Amazon has previously declined to discuss the case. The civil case is still pending.

In the three years since, Nelson and her family have navigated the ups and downs of such life-changing events. All the while, Nelson has been working to pivot the Riveter to a new model.

At first, the Riveter focused on getting out of its leases and publishing content as a media business. But Nelson didn’t see the Riveter as a media platform long-term. “We lost our initial business. It was gone. The pandemic killed it,” Nelson says, adding that the Riveter had been on track for $20 million in revenue in 2020 before it shut down. “We stayed alive as a media company, but that wasn’t what we set out to build.”

The former VC-backed coworking startup is taking the next step toward a more permanent pivot by acquiring the freelance work marketplace Allobee. Nelson and her co-CEO Heather Carter are now envisioning the Riveter as a platform and community to advance women’s work—a post-COVID mission more aligned with its pre-pandemic vision.

Riveter founder Amy Nelson.
Courtesy of the Riveter

“This is all about women making money,” Nelson explains. It’s a mission that resonates with her personally after her family’s assets were seized by the Department of Justice as part of the Amazon investigation and later returned. “I had to leave my kids [in Seattle] and go live in New York to work for someone else,” she says, referencing a past job she took before relaunching the Riveter as a revenue-generating business. “Had I been in a position where I had multiple income streams and ways to make money remotely, I might not have had to do that.”

Allobee, founded by early Riveter employee Brooke Markevicius, is an online marketplace for vetted freelancers to connect with employers, with a focus on freelance digital marketing and virtual assistant jobs. It’s a small Upwork competitor with about 200 employers and 300 freelancers, who are mostly women. “So many women have left the workforce and don’t want to go back to corporate America,” Carter says. She and Nelson see absorbing the platform’s community and presenting the Riveter’s membership with freelance opportunities as an additional way to support women’s careers and financial independence.

The acquisition, the details of which the companies declined to disclose, is the Riveter’s second; the company previously bought Carter’s past business, Coterie Works, a hotel coworking startup. After its Allobee deal, the Riveter relaunched paid memberships ranging from $39 a month to around $160 a month. The startup is also offering online courses on skills like how to build an email list or use the graphic design platform Canva and planning to reenter the coworking market through partnerships with hotels rather than its own leases.

Through freelance work, skills training, and in-person work spaces, Nelson sees a path forward for a business focused on supporting women’s working lives. “To be decimated and go through what I’ve gone through and then to come back—it feels like a miracle,” she says. “But I know it’s not a miracle. It’s hard work and grit.”

Emma Hinchliffe

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The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Kinsey Crowley. Subscribe here.


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