Porch is back up to more than 450 employees — approaching the number that the home improvement marketplace and renovation data startup had at its peak before major layoffs in 2015 and 2016 dramatically reduced its staff.
Porch CEO and co-founder Matt Ehrlichman revealed the company’s growth in a LinkedIn post that represents its emergence from a “rightly timed pause” that began about two years ago. The company went quiet after shifting its focus to profitability and building a stronger product rather than just pure growth.
Porch, whose platform connects home improvement professionals with homeowners, is nearing a break-even point, Ehrlichman wrote, and is now growing faster than ever. But this time around, Ehrlichman insists the growth will come in a more sustainable way.
“The company has emerged stronger, more focused, and better equipped to delight homeowners and empower home service professionals to thrive,” Ehrlichman wrote. “We’ve grown faster over the last couple of years than we ever have, with revenue doubling year-over-year at a much larger scale. This rapid growth has enabled $1 billion in revenue for our network of 300,000 active home services professionals in 2017 alone.”
In the post, Ehrlichman teased further announcements but didn’t go into detail, writing that “We’ve built new products and added many other partners that we’ll announce soon.”
In an interview with GeekWire, Ehrlichman said the decision to emerge from its quiet period came down to a couple of factors. One is hiring; Porch has about 30 open positions in Seattle, including a variety of tech roles and some executives positions such as chief marketing officer. To attract the best talent, the company has to be in the public eye, showing people why they should work there, Ehrlichman said.
Ehrlichman added that it’s impossible to stay quiet forever, and the company has “moved many of the big rocks we wanted to move.” And lastly, while Ehrlichman declined to give specifics, he said “there are some external things that we’re working on that just have to have our story told to the world.”
In its early days, Porch was a small, scrappy startup, doing a lot with a little. The company used folding tables and leftover chairs and encouraged employees to bring their own laptops. As it grew rapidly, so did the investment dollars, topped off by a $65 million round in January 2015, valuing the company at around $500 million.
Around that time, Ehrlichman started to see “holes in the core economics of our business model.” That year, the company laid off 20 percent of its staff as part of a broader strategy change. In 2016, GeekWire reported that Porch had gone from a peak size of 500 people down to about 250.
“And while it was incredibly painful to reduce our workforce a few years ago, that experience galvanized our core team,” Ehrlichman wrote. “We built a stronger culture and workplace for today and the future. We’re now back to hiring and investing in the right people who fit our unique culture.”
Porch is not Ehrlichman’s first startup. He co-founded the Thriva events management software company, which was sold in 2007 for more than $60 million to Active Network Inc., where Ehrlichman was chief strategy officer leading up to and beyond the company’s 2011 initial public offering.
And he’s learned some lessons along the way.
“You’re going to face bumps,” he said. “You’re going to have to learn different things. You’re just going to have to battle through and solve one problem after the next, and it takes tremendous amounts of resolve to build what that original vision is and build something you’re proud of that’s going to be really meaningful to the world.”