The moves come as the home-improvement startup refocuses its business, concentrating more on the technology to connect customers with home-services resources.
Seattle home-improvement startup Porch.com announced Thursday it has acquired San Francisco-based Fountain and will use the smaller company’s technology to help refocus its business.
Porch will concentrate more on the technology behind connecting customers with resources to finish home-improvement projects, rather than providing in-home services. As a result, Porch is laying off a big chunk of its staff — mainly employees who work on in-home services.
That’s a big switch for the company, which has been on a hiring spree for the past year.
Porch said the company cut more than 60 people. That number is likely closer to 90.The company says it has more than 450 employees now and will have 400 after the cuts and acquiring 10 people from Fountain.
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Porch announced the news to its employees Thursday morning. Laid-off workers will receive severance benefits.
Porch faces a growing crowd of competitors in the space, including recent entrances from giants Amazon.com and Google, as well as smaller startups.
The purchase of Fountain is Porch’s first acquisition. Fountain created an app that allows users to enter their home-improvement problems and connect with experts for advice. Fountain helps users with phone, text or video chat advice to help them fix, say, a leaky faucet by themselves.
Porch will take over Fountain’s office, establishing a foothold in tech-heavy San Francisco, said Craig Cincotta, Porch senior vice president and head of communications. Porch, which has raised more than $100 million, largely from hardware retailer Lowe’s, declined to disclose terms of the acquisition.
Cincotta said Porch is evolving into a one-stop shop for people to ask who they should use for a project. He said the company isn’t sure exactly what Porch’s finished product will look like, but it could include virtual assistants, similar to video chatting with Fountain experts. It will likely make use of Porch’s network of vetted home-improvement contractors.
“We heard from people time and again that one of the hardest things is that they just want to connect with someone; they just want to talk to an expert,” Cincotta said.
He emphasized that revenues have quadrupled year over year and the number of Porch services users has been increasing. Layoffs and refocusing are parts of being a fast-growing startup that tests many things quickly, he said.
As it prepares to develop new technologies, Porch has hired its first chief product officer: Eric Doerr, a former Microsoft manager.
Fountain founder Aaron Patzer, who also founded financial-management site Mint.com, will remain as an adviser to Porch.