Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Houzz, an online platform for home renovation and design, has laid off 155 employees, roughly 10 percent of its staff, per an internal memo obtained by TechCrunch. Executive salaries also took a cut.

The company, last valued at $ 4 billion, confirmed the content of the memo in a statement to TechCrunch.

“Due to the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses in the home renovation and design space, and the resulting impact on our core business of pro subscriptions, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to part ways with 155 employees, which is approximately 10% of our team,” said a spokesperson.

In the internal memo, Houzz’s founders Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen cite COVID-19’s impact in its core business: pro subscriptions. The subscriptions are for home remodeling and design professionals to find work. Due to COVID-19, many of those same professionals are facing project delays or cancellations as states promote social distancing and shelter in places.

Beyond serving as a marketplace for home renovators and customers, the company also sells furniture from third parties. Many consumers might not be thinking about renovating their bathroom or welcoming construction into their home as the pandemic shows up on doorsteps around the world.

While the layoffs are COVID-19 related, this isn’t the first sign of Houzz struggling as a business. Last month, Houzz fired 10 people and scrapped a plan to create furniture in-house. The move would have seen Houzz bring some of the revenue it usually federates out to third-party manufacturers, in-house.

“At Houzz, we continually review our strategic investments, such as Private Label, to ensure that they are aligned to the current needs of our business and optimized for our continued growth,” the company said in a statement to TechCrunch back in March. “As a result of this process, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue our investment in Private Label at this time.”

The company also had some turbulence last year when it disclosed a data breach compromising 57 million records. A year prior, Houzz fired 10 percent of its staff to cut costs and restructure ahead of preparing for an IPO. And considering a number of factors, we’re guessing that plan to barrel toward the public markets may have changed.

Houzz will provide those laid off with severage packages based on tenure and will pay for benefits until the end of July. The company also said it will help those laid off find their next gig through resume writing, career coaching, and network referrals.

 


TechCrunch

Opendoor, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based company that has from the outset aimed to help people buy and sell homes with the “push of a button” or nearly, has just laid off more than a third of its staff.

According to a statement sent to us by cofounder and CEO Eric Wu, the company has laid off 600 of its employees, which constitutes 35% of its overall team, says Wu.

Like so many sectors of the economy, the residential real estate market has taken a hit as U.S. residents are asked to stay indoors and all but essential services are shut down in most of the country. (Florida continues to operate by its own rules and yesterday decided that World Wrestling Entertainment is an essential service.)

Home sales haven’t fallen as far or as fast as one might imagine, thanks to staggered shutdowns around the country and, to some extent, virtual tours. According to Realtor.com, the number of U.S. homes for sale declined 15.7% year-over-year in the month of March, but the national median listing price grew 3.8%, to $ 320,000.

Those numbers are starting to change as the weeks wear on, however, with the number of newly listed properties falling by 13.1% the week ending March 21 and by 34.0% for the week ending March 28.

In his statement, Wu didn’t include details regarding the degree to Opendoor has been impacted by the Covid-19 shutdown, saying only that because the pandemic has “had an unforeseen impact on public health, the U.S. economy, and housing,” the company has “seen declines in the number of people buying, selling, and moving during this time of uncertainty.”

He adds in the statement that the reduction in force is “necessary to ensure that we can continue to deliver on our mission and build the experience consumers deserve.”

Asked if the company was planning to also furlough some employees, as some other tech companies are choosing to do, Wu did not respond to the question.

Every company’s management team is handling layoffs differently, of course. In the case of Opendoor, its separation package seems fairly generous as these things go, with laid-off employees receiving eight weeks of full pay and 16 weeks of reimbursement for health insurance coverage.

Wu says he will also be donating his 2020 salary to a relief fund for Opendoor employees who may be in “more challenging financial or health circumstances” owing to the virus and that an unspecified number of other executives are also contributing to the fund.

It’s a better deal than some earlier employees received. Even before the coronavirus took hold in the U.S., Opendoor was paring back its employee base. Last summer, as Bloomberg reported at the time, the company fired 50 people and asked up to 300 others in offices around the country to relocate to its Phoenix location or else part ways with the outfit.

Opendoor specializes in “instant buying,” which remains a small but growing part of the residential real estate market, partly owing to the risk it entails. Zillow last fall told the New York Times that it had it had bought less than 700 homes in 2018 but expected to be buying up to 5,000 homes per month within five years.

Opendoor meanwhile said acquired 11,000 homes in 2018. It hasn’t disclosed how many homes it bought in 2019, saying in a December post that it “bought and sold thousands of homes” over the course of the year.

Typically, the company aims to hold homes for less than three months before selling them to a home buyer. To help fuel all those purchases, Opendoor has raised $ 4.3 billion in equity and debt funding over the years, including $ 1.3 billion in equity.

Backed early on by Khosla Ventures, then GGV Capital, the company had in more recent funding rounds, strengthened its ties to the traditional real estate market by adding to is backers one of the country’s largest home construction companies, Lennar Corporation. The idea behind the relationship was for OpenDoor to help get customers into Lennar-built homes faster, as well as to encourage them to “trade up” where possible.

Opendoor was also the recipient of one of the SoftBank Vision Fund’s enormous checks, trading a minority stake in the company in September 2018 for a $ 400 million check from the Japanese conglomerate, which also installed managing director Jeff Housenbold on the company’s board.

Opendoor announced its most recent round — a $ 300 million financing, including from General Atlantic and others — almost a year ago, at a reported post-money valuation of $ 3.8 billion.

It’s unclear to what extent the current market will impact that number going forward. Given the scale of its cutbacks, it’s also unclear whether, when the economy begins to re-open, OpenDoor will continue to operate in the 21 cities where its services are currently available.

For now, the company has stopped making cash offers on homes. It says on its site that in the meantime, it is continuing to work with third-party buyers who may be able to provide home sellers with cash offers, as well as connecting customers with listing agents in cases where they are needed.


TechCrunch

Oyo has placed thousands of employees on furloughs for up to three months in the U.S. and several other markets as the Indian budget lodging firm confronts the coronavirus outbreak that has cut its revenue and demand by over 50%.

The startup’s teams in the U.S. are most impacted by the furloughs, according to a person familiar with the matter. In a statement, Oyo confirmed the furloughs and added that India, its home market, was not impacted. The company also said it was not cutting any jobs.

In a video message to Oyo employees, founder and chief executive Ritesh Agarwal said the coronavirus outbreak has severely impacted its business globally. The company’s occupancy rate and revenues have dropped by “over” 50 to 60% since earlier this year, he said.

The furloughs in the company’s headcount comes after the SoftBank -backed startup let go five thousand employees and contractors in India, China, and other markets in recent months.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted nearly every business worldwide, is the latest setback for SoftBank, many of which portfolio startups including WeWork, Kabbage, OneWeb, have either furloughed employees or declared bankruptcy.

WeWork, which had a meltdown last year as it rushed to file for IPO, this week sued SoftBank for allegedly breaching contract and fiduciary duty after Masayoshi Son’s firm said it would not consummate its $ 3 billion tender offer.

27-year-old Agarwal, who increased his stake at Oyo to about 33% last year after buying back stake from investors Lightspeed Partners and others, said the company’s balance sheet has “come under severe stress” and forced it to look at “every controllable cost and reduce them.”

“As part of which, every forward looking CAPEX, MNAs or even something as little as every non-essential travel and new expenditures were paused a little over a month back,” he said.

Agarwal is not taking any salary for rest of the year and others in the leadership team have agreed to have their salaries cut by a minimum of 25%.

India’s second most valued startup at $ 10 billion, Oyo has come under scrutiny in recent months after many of its hotel chain partners said the company had not held to its end of the deal.

Last month, Oyo said it was ending the practice of awarding perks such as guaranteed revenues to hotel partners around the world and was rolling out new contracts for its hotel partners.

“It is important for me and our leadership team that we make the right decisions required for the long-term success as well as what is right for the long-term cash runway for the company,” he said today.

The Indian startup will continue to engage with authorities worldwide to provide hotels to healthcare workers and others on the frontline to fight the coronavirus, he added.


TechCrunch

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