Responding to COVID-19: How 4 Seattle Tech Companies Are Adapting Their Businesses

April 24, 2020

As businesses respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re already assessing potential long-term outcomes and new realities. 

“Remote work will no longer be a thing just for tech startups,” Auth0 CEO and Co-Founder Eugenio Pace said. “Leaders must rethink and reshape their business operations and workforce.” 

For Pace’s team, that means keeping internal culture front of mind while also being cognizant of the ways in which the authentication platform company can extend a helping hand to the community. This has included a “startup relief program,” free access to products for a limited time and philanthropic initiatives. 

 

Convoy Seattle
convoy

 

Similarly, Convoy has stepped up by partnering with Land O’Lakes to help facilitate food bank donation deliveries, among other initiatives. Setting up channels for information-sharing has been another method of supporting those in the freight industry. 

“We have been producing weekly content designed to give insight into the economy, supply chains and the life of an owner-operator,” said Digital Marketing Specialist Sam Landesberg. 

The significance of information-sharing extends to internal efforts, as well, with virtual company-wide meetings featuring “AMAs,” or ask-me-anythings, with organizational leaders. 

“These adaptations to maintain company culture have allowed employees to continue feeling like they’re on a team and striving for excellence together,” Landesberg said.

Whether it’s efforts to alleviate strain on customers or endeavoring for more internal transparency, here’s how four Seattle tech companies are responding to the current climate.

 

Eugenio Pace
CEO & Co-founder

How are you shifting your business in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and why?

I feel fortunate to have had a business continuity plan in place for several years to prepare for any kind of crisis, including a pandemic. Designed precisely for situations like this, our business continuity plan provides detailed steps for comprehensive action to ensure that there is no degradation to the quality of our services.

We have created a line of communication to our developer relations advocates for one-on-one video calls. Additionally, we’re offering free tools for startups battling COVID-19, including our Auth0 startup relief program, as well as workforce authentication free — for up to 500 users — through the end of August. We’ve also joined the Seattle Foundation and other community-based organizations to support local workers and families most affected by COVID-19. 
 

Our values centered around communication, collaboration and culture have only strengthened.”


What steps have you taken to align your team around this shift, particularly with employees now working from home?

Our remote-centric culture has given us the freedom and flexibility to transition easily to 100 percent of our team working remotely (55 percent of our employees already worked remotely). Our values centered around communication, collaboration and culture have only strengthened. From weekly company and leadership updates to cross-departmental social activities like trivia, happy hours and other themed virtual get-togethers, our team is connecting in new ways. 

 

How do you think this shift will impact your business in the future? 

Remote work will no longer be a thing just for tech startups. Leaders must rethink and reshape their business operations and workforce. We pride ourselves on being a company that enables our team members to do their best work — regardless of location — at a global scale. By continuing to invest in our remote culture, we see greater productivity, employee freedom and happiness, and have access to a wider pool of talent to hire the best team possible. These are not easy times, but instilling a remote culture has allowed us to prepare and support each other.

 

Joshua Heckathorn
COO

How are you shifting your business in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and why?

We’ve found that Tomorrow has become more relevant than ever right now. We are leaning in on all fronts in order to help as many Americans as possible plan for their family’s financial future. We remain committed to offering a free legal will and have kept our pricing low for Tomorrow Plus, a subscription service which offers access to additional legal documents, such as a revocable living trust.

 

What steps have you taken to align your team around this shift, particularly with employees now working from home?

During a time when many companies have been forced to lay off employees, we are hiring in order to keep up with demand. Remote interviews have certainly been tough, but the whole team has really stepped up. Last week, we just hired our first employee who went through our entire recruiting process remotely.

Many years ago, we implemented weekly work-from-home on Wednesdays. We wanted to give our team members a day during the middle of the week to be productive from home, take care of things around the house, and schedule medical appointments as necessary. We’ve practiced how to keep our business moving from home for a long time now. When the stay-at-home order was put in place, our team knew what to do and was already set up to be successful. 
 

We are leaning in to help as many Americans as possible plan for their family’s financial future.”


How do you think this shift will impact your business in the future?

We suspect we’ll continue to see an increase in organic traffic and demand for the types of services we provide. Even after COVID-19 has subsided, this experience will hopefully continue to remind us all how important it is to have a plan in place for our families. We will remain committed to bringing all Americans the fastest and easiest way to get a plan in place.

 

Sam Landesberg
Digital Marketing Specialist

How are you shifting your business in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and why?

We launched a nationwide program with customers to haul freight for any business that wants to donate a truckload of products to their local food bank. In an effort to address the growing food shortages facing millions of Americans impacted by COVID-19, companies like Land O’Lakes are partnering with Convoy to donate critical items to food banks across the nation. We also partnered with Goodyear to offer discounts on tires and fast roadside assistance for any carrier who hauls with Convoy. Tires are a major cost to keep trucks running; with this partnership, we’re able to offer all carriers the kinds of discounts that are normally only available to big carrier fleets. 

We have implemented new initiatives that help both shippers and carriers weather these uncertain times. In March, we launched our COVID-19 resource center, which provides information for those in the freight industry on how to stay safe, as well as new services being offered, in-depth market analysis from industry leaders, and suggestions for where anyone can donate funds to support those people in the freight industry who may be struggling. In support of these efforts, we’ve been producing weekly content designed to give insight into the economy, supply chains and the life of an owner-operator.
 

We have implemented new initiatives that help both shippers and carriers weather these uncertain times.”


What steps have you taken to align your team around this shift, particularly with employees now working from home? 

We are headquartered in downtown Seattle and we have a satellite office in Atlanta. Washington and Georgia’s statewide stay-at-home orders changed day-to-day life for our employees. However, we were fortunate that the sudden transition to work from home was seamless for our team and for our Digital Freight Network, which automates our business. In accordance with the CDC and local government guidelines, employees plan to work from home for the foreseeable future, leading the team to seek creative opportunities to build and maintain company culture while at a distance. To grow the feeling of community, there’s been a steady stream of communications from company leadership to keep employees aware of updates and changes at the company, while also strengthening their mechanisms for receiving feedback from employees and honing in on areas of improvement during this transition. 

During company-wide virtual meetings, presenters share insight and updates on various parts of the business. They also feature AMAs with company leaders. These meetings have helped spread important messages ensure everyone’s voice is heard and questions and concerns are being addressed. In early April, Convoy celebrated its five-year anniversary: activities included fun virtual group sessions with cross-functional teams so employees could meet new people, as well as a presentation by the company’s first five employees recapping how far the company’s come. 

 

How do you think this shift will impact your business in the future? 

These adaptations to maintain company culture have allowed employees to continue feeling like they’re on a team and all striving for excellence together. This mindset has allowed us to persevere through these challenging times and continue to serve their customers. We are still growing and are more optimistic than ever that our Digital Freight Network will help transform the freight industry into something that works better for both shippers and carriers.  

 

Mia Lewin
Founder & CEO


How are you shifting your business in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and why?

In addition to Spruce Up’s typical bestsellers, we are seeing more customers buying board games to entertain as a family; colorful, whimsical decor to lighten up the day; bar cabinets to set up a stylish home bar; and, with spring emerging, people want to set up outdoor spaces to enjoy the sun. 

To address the demand for work-from-home employees, we’ve been increasing our offerings for home offices. A lot of our customers that work in tech are investing in quality desks, task chairs and lighting. 

 

What steps have you taken to align your team around this shift, particularly with employees now working from home? 

Our business model is highly flexible and scalable. Our model is 100 percent dropship. We don’t hold any inventory, so our e-commerce sales are fulfilled mostly as usual by our 70-plus partners. More items are now going out of stock faster. We have always enjoyed a flexible work-from-home policy, so it’s been an easy adjustment to continue operating as usual via Slack and Zoom. We are working on ways to stay connected in the new virtual office environment.
 

We expect that consumer spend will now move online faster than predicted.”


How do you think this shift will impact your business in the future? 

We believe that there will be a significant shift in consumer behavior with long-term effects — backed by early consumer data from China — where people continue to stay home. E-commerce is emerging as one of the growth sectors in the new economy. Our offering is well-positioned for the new homebound consumer: people want to spruce up their home office and outdoor space, cook together as a family and set up home school, play and entertainment areas. We are seeing customer engagement increase as they are looking to find items that bring joy home. 

Our AI-enabled, personalized e-commerce model is infinitely scalable and highly capital-efficient. We expect that consumer spend will now move online faster than predicted. Home and decor is the fastest-growing e-commerce segment, with $200 billion total addressable market. We’re building a personalized marketplace for millennial consumers now furnishing and decorating their first “adult” homes.

 

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