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[Update: The job cuts at Porch are larger than we initially understood, actually numbering between 60 and 100 people. The story below has been updated to reflect this information.]

[Update II: Follow-up: Porch lays off 90 people, key executives depart as company adjusts strategy.]

Follow-up: Challenges at Porch: High-flying, heavily funded startup learns the lessons of rapid growth

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The Fountain app

Home improvement technology startup Porch has acquired Fountain, a San Francisco-based startup that offers instant answers from experts via video chat on its mobile apps for iOS and Android.

The acquisition, which will give Porch a new office in San Francisco, is part of a flurry of news from the Seattle-based startup today. Porch is also bringing aboard Eric Doerr, previously a Microsoft general manager, as its first chief product officer; and Jim Dantzler, previously the head of UX Design for Amazon Instant Video, as its vice president of design.

In addition, the company is cutting between 60 jobs and 100 jobs, primarily as a result of ending an in-home pilot program called “Home Assistant” that Porch had quietly started testing in Seattle and Chicago. Under the pilot, home assistants worked with homeowners and local service providers, aiming in part to bring in new business for the startup.

The company’s last publicly reported headcount was 450. The number will be about 400 people after ending the pilot program — a rare and unexpected contraction for one of the region’s fastest-growing, most heavily funded and closely watched startups. Porch says it will be focusing on its technology and product offerings after ending the Home Services pilot.

“We will continue to hire the right people for the right roles at the right time, in particular engineering, design, and product are areas we will continue to see growth in,” said Craig Cincotta, senior vice president and head of communications for the company.

Aaron Patzer, Fountain co-founder and former Mint.com CEO, will become an adviser to Porch with the acquisition.
Aaron Patzer, Fountain co-founder and former Mint.com CEO, will become an adviser to Porch with the acquisition.

The Fountain acquisition is part of the company’s product and technology push, and the company says in a news release that Fountain is essentially replacing its Home Assistant program. Financial terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but Fountain raised $4 million in its Series A funding round a year ago, when its service launched.

The startup’s 10 employees are expected to join Porch as part of the deal. In addition, Fountain co-founder Aaron Patzer, the founder and former CEO of Mint.com, will become an adviser to Porch with the acquisition.

In a news release announcing the Fountain deal, Patzer described the Porch and Fountain approaches as complementary: “With Porch + Fountain, not only can you access an interior designer, architect, gardener, electrician, plumber or appliance repair expert in about 90 seconds, but if you get stuck on DIY, Porch can send a professional to your house. The combination is transformative for anyone who owns a home,” he said.

Porch’s Cincotta said the company hasn’t yet determined whether Fountain would remain available as a standalone app. With the acquisition, the new Porch San Francisco office will be led by Fountain co-founder and chief technology officer, Jean Sini.

Eric Doerr, new Porch chief product officer
Eric Doerr, new Porch chief product officer

The company’s new chief product officer, Doerr, worked at Microsoft for more than 20 years, most recently as Partner GM for Microsoft Account and Azure Active Directory authentication. He will lead Porch’s product development initiatives in his new role.

Dantzler, the company’s new vice president of design, led teams in Seattle and London in his previous role as head of UX Design for Amazon Instant Video. His past roles at Amazon included leading the UX design for the Amazon.com home page and product detail pages.

Porch, led by CEO Matt Ehrlichman, offers free home-improvement data to homeowners, including detailed information about projects in their neighborhood. The company — which faces competition from sites including Pro.com, Houzz, and Zillow Digs — says it has amassed data about 138 million home improvement projects across the country.

The privately held company, which doesn’t disclose its financial results publicly, makes money from its relationships with home-improvement pros, charging them for market insights and promotional exposure. Porch said it delivered more than $1.8 billion in potential business to more than 100,000 home improvement pros from September 2014 to September 2015.

Porch in January raised $65 million in new capital in a Series B financing round led by Valor Equity Partners, bringing aboard prominent investors including Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and TV personality Ty Pennington.The round brought the company’s total funding to $100 million. Porch’s investors also include Lowe’s Home Improvement, which offers Porch services to its customers as part of a partnership with company.

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