As companies accelerate their digital transitions, employees detail a changed workplace

The U.S.’s COVID-19 caseload continues to set records as major states move to re-shutter their economies in hopes of stemming its spread. For many workers the situation means more time in the home office, and less time in their traditional workplace.

What the world will look like when safety eventually returns is not clear, but it’s becoming plain that the workplace will not revert to its old normal. New data details changed employee sentiment, showing that a good portion of the working world doesn’t want to get back to its pre-COVID commute, and, in many cases, is eyeing a move to a different city or state in the wake of the pandemic and its economic disruptions.


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The changing workplace has shifted — accelerated, you could say — demand for all sorts of products and services, from grocery delivery to software. The latter category of tools has seen quickening demand as the world moves to support newly remote workforces, helping keep them both productive and secure.

TechCrunch has covered the accelerating digital transformation — industry slang for companies moving to a more software-and-cloud world — before, noting that investors are making big bets on companies that might benefit from its ramping pace. Thanks to new data from a Twilio-led survey, we have a fresh look at that trend.

Undergirding the digital transformation is how today’s workers are adapting to remote work. If many workers don’t want to stop working from home, the gains that companies serving the digital transformation are seeing could prove permanent. New data from a Qualtrics -led survey may help us understand the new mindset of the domestic, and global worker.

At the union of the two datasets is a lens into the future of not only how many information workers, to borrow an old phrase, will labor in the future, but how they’ll feel about it. So, this morning let’s explore the world through two data-driven lenses, helped as we go with notes from interviews with Qualtrics’ CEO Ryan Smith and Twilio’s Chief Customer Officer, Glenn Weinstein.

What workers want

Revolut partners with Paxos to bring cryptocurrency trading to the US

Neobank Revolut launched in the U.S. a couple of months ago. The startup is slowly catching up with features that are available in the U.K. and Europe. This time, Revolut is adding cryptocurrency trading through a partnership with Paxos.

Users in the U.S. can now buy, hold and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum from the Revolut app. The feature is going to be available in 49 states as there are some regulatory issues in Tennessee. If you have USD or other currencies in your Revolut account, you can exchange manually whenever you want.

You can also set up alerts in case there are some important price changes happening. Optionally, users can also round up card payments to the nearest whole dollar and convert spare change into crypto assets.

If you’re familiar with Revolut’s cryptocurrency feature, you know that the company gives you access to more cryptocurrencies in Europe, such as Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and XRP. The company says it is starting with BTC and ETH in the U.S. but is already working on bringing more cryptocurrencies.

When it comes to fees, users with a free Revolut account will pay 2.5% in conversion fees. Users with a Premium and Metal subscription will pay 1.5% in fees. Revolut is waving fees for the first 30 days.

This is in line with the company’s current fees in Europe. Revolut also has some monthly limits on currency exchange in general for free users as well — it can be fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies. You have to pay a 0.5% fee above that limit or pay for a subscription.

Revolut made some changes to its cryptocurrency feature recently. While you now technically own your cryptocurrencies, you can’t send and receive cryptocurrencies from third-party wallets. The feature is all about trading — buying, holding and selling.

In the U.S., Square’s Cash App and Robinhood also let you buy cryptocurrencies in their respective app. While those features don’t offer the same flexibility as a full-fledged cryptocurrency exchange, it makes it easy to get started with cryptocurrencies.

Layer gets $5.6M to make joint working on spreadsheets less hassle

Layer is not trying to replace Excel or Google Sheets. Instead the Berlin-based productivity startup wants to make life easier for those whose job entails wrangling massive spreadsheets and managing data inputs from across an organization — such as for budgeting, financial reporting or HR functions — by adding a granular control access layer on top.

The idea for a ‘SaaS to supercharge spreadsheets’ came to the co-founders as a result of their own experience of workflow process pain-points at the place they used to work, as is often the case with productivity startups.

“Constantin [Schünemann] and I met at Helpling, the marketplace for cleaning services, where I was the company’s CFO and I had to deal with spreadsheets on a daily level,” explains co-founder Moritz ten Eikelder. “There was one particular reference case for what we’re building here — the update of the company’s financial model and business case which was a 20MB Excel file with 30 different tabs, hundreds of roles of assumptions. It was a key steering tool for management and founders. It was also the basis for the financial reporting.

“On average it needed to be updated twice per month. And that required input by around about 20-25 people across the organization. So right then about 40 different country managers and various department heads. The problem was we could not share the entire file with [all the] people involved because it contained a lot of very sensitive information like salary data, cash burn, cash management etc.”

While sharing a Dropbox link to the file with the necessary individuals so they could update the sheet with their respective contributions would have risked breaking the master file. So instead he says they created individual templates and “carve outs” for different contributors. But this was still far from optimal from a productivity point of view. Hence feeling the workflow burn — and their own entrepreneurial itch.

“Once all the input was collected from the stakeholders you would start a very extensive and tedious copy paste exercise — where you would copy from these 25 difference sources and insert them data into your master file in order to create an up to date version,” says ten Eikelder, adding: “The pain points are pretty clear. It’s an extremely time consuming and tedious process… And it’s extremely prone to error.”

Enter Layer: A web app that’s billed as a productivity platform for spreadsheets which augments rather than replaces them — sitting atop Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets files and bringing in a range of granular controls.

The idea is to offer a one-stop shop for managing access and data flows around multi-stakeholder spreadsheets, enabling access down to individual cell level and aiding collaboration and overall productivity around these key documents by streamlining the process of making and receiving data input requests.

“You start off by uploading an Excel file to our web application. In that web app you can start to build workflows across a feature spectrum,” says Schünemann — noting, for example, that the web viewer allows users to drag the curser to highlight a range of cells they wish to share.

“You can do granular user provisioning on top of that where in the offline world you’d have to create manual carve outs or manual copies of that file to be able to shield away data for example,” he goes on. “On top of that you can then request input [via an email asking for a data submission].

“Your colleagues keep on working in their known environments and then once he has submitted input we’ve built something that is very similar to a track changes functionality in Word. So you as a master user could review all changes in the Layer app — regardless of whether they’re coming through Excel or Google Sheets… And then we’ve built a consolidation feature so that you don’t need to manually copy-paste from different spreadsheets into one. So with just a couple of clicks you can accept changes and they will be taken over into your master file.”

Layer’s initial sales focus is on the financial reporting function but the co-founders say they see this as a way of getting a toe in the door of their target mid-sized companies.

The team believes there are wider use-cases for the tool, given the ubiquity of spreadsheets as a business tool. Although, for now, their target users are organizations with between 150-250 employees so they’re not (yet) going after the enterprise market.

“We believe this is a pretty big [opportunity],” Schünemann tells TechCrunch. “Why because back in 2018 when we did our first research we initially started out with this one spreadsheet at Helpling but after talking to 50 executives, most of them from the finance world or from the financial function of different sized companies, it’s pretty clear that the spreadsheet dependency is still to this day extremely high. And that holds true for financial use cases — 87% of all budgeting globally is still done via spreadsheets and not big ERP systems… but it also goes beyond that. If you think about it spreadsheets are really the number one workflow platform still used to this day. It’s probably the most used user interface in any given company of a certain size.”

“Our current users we have, for example, a real estate company whereby the finance function is using Layer but also the project controller and also some parts of the HR team,” he adds. “And this is a similar pattern. You have similarly structured workflows on top of spreadsheets in almost all functions of a company. And the bigger you get, the more of them you have.

“We use the finance function as our wedge into a company — just because it’s where our domain experience lies. You also usually have a couple of selective use cases which tend to have these problems more because of the intersections between other departments… However sharing or collecting data in spreadsheets is used not only in finance functions.”

The 2019 founded startup’s productivity platform remains in private beta for now — and likely the rest of this year — but they’ve just nabbed €5 million (~$5.6M) in seed funding to get the product to market, with a launch pegged for Q1 2021.

The seed round is led by Index Ventures (Max Rimpel is lead there), and with participation from earlier backers btov Partners. Angel investors also joining the seed include Ajay Vashee (CFO at Dropbox); Carlos Gonzales-Cadenaz (COO of GoCardless), Felix Jahn (founder and CEO of McMakler), Matt Robinson (founder of GoCardless and Nested) and Max Tayenthal (co-founder and CFO of N26).

Commenting in a statement, Index’s Rimpel emphasized the utility the tool offers for “large distributed organizations”, saying: “Spreadsheets are one of the most successful UI’s ever created, but they’ve been built primarily for a single user, not for large distributed organisations with many teams and departments inputting data to a single document. Just as GitHub has helped developers contribute seamlessly to a single code base, Layer is now bringing sophisticated collaboration tools to the one billion spreadsheet users across the globe.”

On the competition front, Layer said it sees its product as complementary to tech giants Google and Microsoft, given the platform plugs directly into those spreadsheet standards. Whereas other productivity startups, such as the likes of Airtable (a database tool for non-coders) and Smartsheets (which bills itself as a “collaboration platform”) are taking a more direct swing at the giants by gunning to assimilate the spreadsheet function itself, at least for certain use cases.

“We never want to be a new Excel and we’re also not aiming to be a new Google Sheets,” says Schünemann, discussing the differences between Layer and Airtable et al. “What Github is to code we want to be to spreadsheets.”

Given it’s working with the prevailing spreadsheet standard it’s a productivity play which, should it prove successful, could see tech giants copying or cloning some of its features. Given enough scale, the startup could even end up as an acquisition target for a larger productivity focused giant wanting to enhance its own product offering. Though the team claims not to have entertained anything but the most passing thoughts of such an exit at this early stage of their business building journey.

“Right now we are really complementary to both big platforms [Google and Microsoft],” says Schünemann. “However it would be naive for us to think that one or the other feature that we build won’t make it onto the product roadmap of either Microsoft or Google. However our value proposition goes beyond just a single feature. So we really view ourselves as being complementary now and also in the future. Because we don’t push out Excel or Google Sheets from an organization. We augment both.”

“Our biggest competitor right now is probably the ‘we’ve always done it like that’ attitude in companies,” he adds, rolling out the standard early stage startup response when asked to name major obstacles. “Because any company has hacked their processes and tools to make it work for them. Some have built little macros. Some are using Jira or Atlassian tools for their project management. Some have hired people to manage their spreadsheet ensembles for them.”

On the acquisition point, Schünemann also has this to say: “A pre-requisite for any successful exit is building a successful company beforehand and I think we believe we are in a space where there are a couple of interesting exit routes to be taken. And Microsoft and Google are obviously candidates where there would be a very obvious fit but the list goes beyond that — all the file hosting tools like Dropbox or the big CRM tools, Salesforce, could also be interesting for them because it very much integrates into the heart of any organization… But we haven’t gone beyond that simple high level thought of who could acquire us at some point.” 

VidMob rethinks video production in the pandemic era

VidMob, which started out as a marketplace connecting marketers and video editors, now bills itself as a “creative technology platform.” There’s still a marketplace, but it’s part of a broader suite of tools for managing video production and turning those videos into online ads.

And the company has continued to evolve during the COVID-19 pandemic. Founder and CEO Alex Collmer me that how customers use the platform has changed substantially in recent months. For example, he said that one of the platform’s “best skills” involved taking existing footage — including footage shot for TV commercials — and other creative assets and turning them into social media ads. But of course, “Over the last few months, all physical shoots were canceled.”

So Collmer said that rather than simply treating VidMob as social media advertising tool, brands are increasingly turning to the startup for a way to manage remote video production. The result is that the company saw 100% year-over-year “logo growth” (a.k.a. new customers) in the first quarter, and then grew another 50% in Q2.

“What we have seen here is the acceleration of the digital transformation of the enterprise,” he said. “Pretty much every client we have, every marketer we talk to is looking very seriously at how to move all their creative operations onto some sort of unifying software platform, so that they feel safe in the event that they continue to have to work in a remote environment continue, and to be more efficient with existing media.”

One of those clients is Citi, whose vice president of corporate communications Megan Corbett told me her team has been working with VidMob since last year. She said that as as a result of the pandemic, like many marketers, “We were required to really be flexible and adjust and scale programs quickly.”

For example, in response to the #InItTogether hashtag, Citi used VidMob to create a series of inspirational videos showcasing the work of its employees — such as Mihir in the video above, who was 3D printing protective equipment for his communities.

“As we thought about how we told the stories, we realized that your colleagues are some of the most important heroes that you have,” Corbett said.

According to Citi, the videos have been viewed nearly 250,000 times since the campaign launched in early May, with 80% of that viewing on LinkedIn.

And although dealing with the initial pandemic and shutdown was difficult enough, the news keeps coming, with protests for racial justice, a COVID-19 resurgence, resulting closures and more.

“We’re going to be in a period of uncertainty for a while, but to be honest, I see that as an opportunity,” Corbett said. “Brands who understand what their consumers want, brands who are tuned into the cultural zeitgeist, brands [who] pivot quickly to create content that is relevant and engaging and drive business KPIs … that will be what wins in the future.”

Similarly, Collmer said that in a period of uncertainty, brands need to respond more quickly, rather than simply falling silent: “Shutting up and going away is not a great way to position yourself.”

Daily Crunch: Behold, The TechCrunch List

TechCrunch launches a major new initiative, Amazon tests a smart shopping cart and ICE backs down from its controversial student visa rule change. Here’s your Daily Crunch for July 14, 2020.

The big story: Behold, The TechCrunch List

Back in June we published a story with the rather grandiose headline “How we’re rebuilding the VC industry. It was, in effect, announcing The TechCrunch List, which has been a months-long project to bring more transparency to who actually writes first checks for startups.

Today, we published the list — or at least the first version. I’ll let Managing Editor Danny Crichton explain:

The TechCrunch List is a verified, curated list of investors who have demonstrated a commitment to first checks and leading rounds from seed through growth, organized by market vertical …

Ultimately, The TechCrunch List is a living and breathing directory of the most active VCs who are willing to lead in the industry. We intend for the List to be regularly updated as founders give us more recommendations and investors change their tastes and their portfolios.

You can read about the 11 VCs who got the most enthusiastic recommendations from founders (Extra Crunch membership required) and browse the full list.

The tech giants

Amazon to test Dash Cart, a smart grocery shopping cart that sees what you buy — The cart, which will identify and charge you for items placed inside its basket, will first be tested in the Amazon grocery store opening in Woodland Hills, California.

UK U-turns on Huawei and 5G, giving operators until 2027 to rip out existing kit — The U.K. government is forbidding telcos from buying 5G equipment from Huawei and ZTE, and must remove any equipment from those companies by 2027.

Google Play Pass expands outside the US, adds more titles and annual pricing — Play Pass is the Android alternative to Apple Arcade, offering subscription access to a variety of apps and games.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Identity platform Auth0 raises $120M Series F funding round at $1.92B valuation — Developers can just add a few lines of code to connect applications to Auth0’s identity management service.

Blackstone’s growth investors lead a $200 million investment into Oatly, the oat-milk juggernaut — Celebrity investors include Oprah Winfrey, Roc Nation, Natalie Portman and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. (I’ve tried the milk. It was fine.)

Everything you could possibly want to learn about fundraising will be covered at TC Early Stage — There will be in-depth sessions, as well as fireside chats with Figma’s Dylan Field, Minted.com’s Mariam Naficy, Sequoia’s James Buckhouse and Jess Lee and Greylock’s Reid Hoffman and Sarah Guo.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Investors are browsing for Chromium startups — Lucas Matney offers an overview of interesting browser startups building on top of Google’s Chromium project.

The IPO market stays hot, as nCino prices above range and Jamf targets a ~$2B valuation — Alex Wilhelm has the latest on IPO pricing.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

After colleges sue, ICE backs down from student visa rule change — A dozen universities and colleges threatened legal action against the administration’s order to revoke visas for international students studying at U.S. colleges that plan to provide their classes exclusively online in the fall.

NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock officially launches tomorrow — The service has already been available to parent company Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex cable customers since April, but tomorrow marks the launch to a general audience, with anyone in the United States able to sign up and access Peacock on a range of devices (but not Roku or Amazon Fire TV).

Hand-crank a level of Super Mario Bros. on Lego’s new 2,646-piece NES kit — This is beautiful but I would definitely lose some of those pieces.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

COVID-19 fails to stop the march of the unicorns

We’re digging into Q2 2020 venture capital results this week.

Today we are exploring U.S.-specific results after taking a broader perspective yesterday. As with every quarter, our goal is to understand how strong, or not, the domestic and global VC markets are so that we can better follow the pace of startup dealmaking.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. You can read it every morning on Extra Crunch, and now you can receive it in your inbox. Sign up for The Exchange newsletter, which will drop every Saturday starting July 25.


TechCrunch will explore specific metros in the coming days, but today we’re sticking to numbers that detail the whole United States’s second-quarter venture outcome.

The results may surprise you. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and huge disruptions to how companies large and small work, VCs put lots of capital to work in American startups during Q2. While total dollars put to work were down compared to Q1 2020 and the year-ago period, the declines were modest. And unicorns appeared to have a moderately good quarter to boot.

This morning we’re leaning on fresh data from the MoneyTree Report, compiled by business data company CB Insights and its partner, PwC.

Our goal is not to perish under a crushing tower of numbers, but to snag only the most important trends and squeeze them for all they can tell us. Let’s go!

BigCommerce files to go public

As expected, BigCommerce has filed to go public. The Austin, Texas, based e-commerce company raised over $200 million while private. The company’s IPO filing lists a $100 million placeholder figure for its IPO raise, giving us directional indication that this IPO will be in the lower, and not upper, nine-figure range.

BigCommerce, similar to public market darling Shopify, provides e-commerce services to merchants. Given how enamored public investors are with its Canadian rival, the timing of BigCommerce’s debut is utterly unsurprising and is prima facie intelligent.

Of course, we’ll know more when it prices. Today, however, the timing appears fortuitous.

The numbers

BigCommerce is a SaaS business, meaning that it sells a digital service for a recurring payment. For more on how it derives revenue from customers, head here. For our purposes what matters is that public investors will classify it along with a very popular — today’s trading notwithstanding — market segment.

Starting with broad strokes, here’s how the company performed in 2019 compared to 2018, and Q1 2020 in contrast to Q1 2019:

  • In 2019, BigCommerce’s revenue grew to $112.1 million, a gain of around 22% from its 2018 result of $91.9 million.
  • In Q1 2020, BigCommerce’s revenue grew to $33.2 million, up around 30% from its Q1 2019 result of $25.6 million.

BigCommerce didn’t grow too quickly in 2019, but its Q1 2020 expansion pace is much better. BigCommerce will file an S-1/A with more information in Q2 2020, we expect; it can’t go public without sharing more about its recent financial performance.

If the company’s revenue growth acceleration continues in the most recent period — bearing in mind that e-commerce as a segment has proven attractive to many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic — BigCommerce’s IPO timing would appear even more intelligent than it did at first blush. Investors love growth acceleration.

Moving from revenue growth to revenue quality, BigCommerce’s Q1 2020 gross margins came in at 77.5%, a solid SaaS result. In Q1 2019 its gross margin was 76.8%, a slightly worse figure. Still, improving gross margins are popular as they indicate that future cash flows will grow at a faster clip than revenues, all else held equal.

In 2018 BigCommerce lost $38.9 million on a GAAP basis. Its net loss expanded modestly to $42.6 million in 2020, a larger dollar figure in gross terms, but a slimmer percent of its yearly top line. You can read those results however you’d like. In Q1 2020, however, things got better, as the company’s GAAP net loss fell to $4 million from its year-ago Q1 result of $10.5 million.

The BigCommerce big commerce business is growing more slowly than I had anticipated, but its overall operational health is better than I expected.

A few other notes, before we tear deeper into its S-1 filing tomorrow morning. BigCommerce’s adjusted EBITDA, a metric that gives a distorted, partial view of a company’s profitability, improved along similar lines to its net income, falling from -$9.2 million in Q1 2019 to -$5.7 million in Q1 2020.

The company’s cash flow is, akin to its adjusted EBITDA, worse than its net loss figures would have you guess. BigCommerce’s operating activities consumed $10 million in Q1 2020, an improvement from its Q1 2019 operating cash burn of $11.1 million.

The company is further in debt than many SaaS companies, but not so far as to be a problem. BigCommerce’s long-term debt, net of its current portion, was just over $69 million at the end of Q1 2020. It’s not a nice figure, per se, but it is one small enough that a good IPO haul could sharply reduce while still providing good amounts of working capital for the business.

Investors listed in its IPO document include Revolution, General Catalyst, GGV Capital, and SoftBank.

Mighty Health created a wellness app with older adults top of mind

Virtual classes might make it easier to work out anywhere, anytime, but not for anyone. Mainstream fitness tech often targets the young and fit, in advertisements and cardio-heavy exercises. It effectively excludes aging adults from participating.

This gap between mainstream fitness and elders is where Mighty Health, a Y Combinator graduate, comes in.

Mighty Health has created a nutrition and fitness wellness app that is tailored to older adults who might have achy hips or joint problems. Today, the San Francisco-based startup has announced it raised $2.8 million in funding by Y Combinator, NextView Ventures, RRE Ventures, Liquid2 Ventures, Soma Capital and more.

Founder and CEO James Li is the child of immigrants, a detail he says helped him lean into entrepreneurship. He had the idea for Mighty Health after his father was rushed to the hospital for emergency open-heart surgery.

“Growing up, we can often think of our parents as invincible — they look after you and take care of you, and you usually don’t worry too much about them,” Li said. His dad survived the surgery, and Li thought about the evolving health needs and limitations of folks over 50 years old. He teamed up with co-founder Dr. Bernard Chang, the youngest-ever ED doctor to receive a top-tier NIH grant and the vice chair of research at Columbia University Medical Center, to create Mighty Health.

Mighty Health’s product is focused on three things: live coaching; content focused on nutrition, preventative checkups and workouts; and celebrations that let family members tune into their loved ones’ achievements.

The app has inclusivity built into its functionality. Everyday, a user logs in and gets a set of three to five tasks to complete, distributed among nutrition, exercise and workouts. The workouts are pre-recorded videos with trainers that have focused on the over-50 population. Think indoor cardio sets focused on being kinder to joints or lower her impacts.

Image Credits: Mighty Health

One customer, Elizabeth, is a 56-year-old mother who joined Mighty Health after suffering a cardiac incident. The app got her to start walking 9,000 steps a day, lose weigh, lower cholesterol and, best of all, discover a love for a vegetable she had recently written off: brussels sprouts.

Mighty Health’s other core focus, beyond fitness, is nutrition. The app pairs users with a coach to help them create healthy habits around nutrition and lifestyle. The coaching is done through text message. Li says this was intentional because in the early days of Mighty Health, he saw that coaching in-app was difficult for users to navigate.

Image Credits: Mighty Health

“You have to meet them in the middle where they are,” Li said. The live coaching is also met with phone calls, although 90% of coach interactions are text-message based.

The nutrition program also accounts for a diverse user base. Mighty Health chose not to offer or push recipes upon members, unlike a lot of other applications, because all countries and cultures might not find generic recipes accessible.

“Instead, we focus on the ingredient level,” he said. “We send them ingredients that they can piece together however they like at home in the way that they cook their cultural meals.”

The company offers a free seven-day trail, followed by a membership fee of $20 per month. It’s also having discussions with a number of health insurers to offer Mighty Health as a benefit.

With the new capital, the startup hired a few engineers and a designer to build out product integrations with fitness trackers, plus add new content. For now, Li sees his father’s progress with pride.

“Though I’m sure he sometimes thinks I just went from nagging him directly to nagging him through my product, he’s been eating healthier and exercising nearly every day,” Li said. So far, his father has lost 25 pounds.

Former Tinder VP Jeff Morris Jr. opens up Product Club, an accelerator meant to stay small and focused

Startup accelerators tend to grow the size of each new class over time, as more of their portfolio companies find exits, their network of mentors expands and they find new ways to scale things up. The most recognized example of this is almost certainly Y Combinator, which started with a group of just eight companies in 2005 and has since grown to over 150 companies per recent batch.

VC and former Tinder VP Jeff Morris Jr. is taking a different approach with his new accelerator, Product Club: start small and stay small.

The first batch of Product Club companies will be made up of just three companies. While Morris tells me this might grow a bit over time, he doesn’t see it expanding drastically. “I imagine it being up to 10,” he says. “But no more.”

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who’ve built accelerators and have said ‘There’s no way you’ll find a winner with class sizes that small,’ ” Morris tells me. “But I’m kind of okay with that if it means we can be more hands-on.”

Product Club will invest $100,000 in each company, taking 5% equity in return. In addition to investment, the program will provide one-on-one mentorship with a different mentor each week, with each session “100% focused on product development.”

Though new, Product Club has already built up a pretty notable roster of mentors, including:

  • Danny Trinh (head of Design at Zenly)
  • Merci Victoria Grace (investor at Lightspeed, formerly head of Growth at Slack)
  • Scott Belsky (founder of Behance, CPO at Adobe)
  • Sriram Krishnan (investor, formerly led consumer product teams at Twitter)
  • Manik Gupta (investor, former Chief Product Officer at Uber)
  • Brian Norgard (investor, former CPO at Tinder)
  • Jules Walter (product monetization at Slack, co-founder of the BlackPM network)
  • Josh Elman (board partner at Greylock, investor, former VP of Product at Robinhood)

They’ve also partnered with a handful of product designers who will provide hands-on help to the companies on things like branding and UX.

Morris tells me that he intends for Product Club to be a good bit more transparent than other accelerators traditionally have been. Rather than keeping things largely under wraps until Demo Day, he says, they’re “just going to tell everybody from the start who’s in each batch,” with the intent of doing things like founder office hours with users, with product development and changes happening mostly out in the open “almost like a change log.” They’ll have a Demo Day for investors, but it’ll be more of an overview and less of a reveal.

Product Club will operate as part of Chapter One, the early-stage seed fund that Morris founded in 2017. Prior to becoming an investor, Morris led the revenue team at Tinder, where he built things like Tinder Gold — the dating app’s subscription tier that lets you see who “liked” you without you first having to swipe. He was also the director of Product Growth at Lambda School for a few months prior to parting ways with the company to focus on investing full time.

The program’s first session (the Summer 2020 batch) is scheduled to start on August 3, running for a total of 10 weeks. They’re accepting applications immediately, with the deadline to apply currently set for July 19. The program will be entirely remote, so applications are open globally.

SaaS and cloud stocks finally give back ground

After a heated run, SaaS and cloud stocks dipped sharply during regular trading on Monday.

According to the category-tracking Bessemer cloud index, public SaaS and cloud stocks dropped around 6.5% today, a material blow to the value of some of the world’s most highly valued companies, measured by sector-averaged revenue multiples.

After recovering all their COVID-19-related losses earlier this year, SaaS and cloud stocks kept on rising, reaching new all-time highs with regularity. But earnings season is starting, meaning that the value of modern software and digital infrastructure companies will soon be tested against Q2 results — results that were recorded fully during the global pandemic.

To hear bulls — both private and public — tell the story, COVID-19 and its ensuing workplace disruptions have provided software companies with a huge boon. Namely, that customers current and future have radically changed their procurement models and will need more software solutions, more quickly, than they previously anticipated. (Stay tuned to The Exchange for more on this later in the week.)

The thought that there are more and better customers coming for SaaS and cloud companies made them relative safe havens in otherwise turbulent public markets; while other industries had uncertain demand curves, the thinking went, software companies were being pushed forward by an accelerating secular shift.

Today, however, the broader markets slipped from early-day positions of strength while SaaS and cloud shares dropped sharply. Prior patterns in investor behavior didn’t hold up, in other words.

Why today brought such sharp selling is not clear. No more, really, than reasons for prior days’ gains were clear at the time. Profit taking? Rotation to other sectors? Whatever you want to ascribe to the day’s declines you can make stick.

For our purposes here at TechCrunch, the dropping share prices of public software companies serves as an anti-signal for late-stage valuations in SaaS startups, and a general headwind toward venture investors making more early-stage bets in the sector. Of course, one day doesn’t change the game. But several days of sharp losses could begin to change sentiment, and days when shares of modern software companies drop by 6% are few and far between.

Earnings are next, but for many companies in the SaaS and cloud world, reporting their results just got easier. When expectations drop, everyone loses a bit of worry, right?