Home services platform Porch.com has made its first-ever acquisition, snatching up the on-demand answers app Fountain for an undisclosed price. As a consequence of the deal, Fountain’s service will replace Porch’s Home Assistant program and will provide the Seattle, Washington-based company a beachhead in San Francisco, California to open up a new office.
The brainchild of Mint.com founder and former chief executive Aaron Patzer, Fountain offers up advice to users from a slew of curated experts. You can get one-on-one advice through text or video call from across a variety of industries, including veterinarians, physicians, lawyers, tech experts, and even those in the home improvement space. That last industry is likely what drew Porch to make the acquisition.
A Porch spokesperson told VentureBeat that for now Fountain will remain independent, but it will eventually be merged into Porch’s main app. “We will share those details as soon as we can,” we were told. Additionally, some layoffs are likely, due to those positions not being aligned with Porch’s “core focus” on the home. Patzer himself will not be taking on a full-time role within the company, instead opting for a product advisor role. His Fountain cofounder Jean Sini will remain with the company and run the San Francisco office.
“With the acquisition of Fountain, we will take huge steps forward with our consumer experience, helping homeowners get connected with the very best Guaranteed Professionals or now complete projects themselves with help from Home Experts, powered by Fountain’s natural language search, artificial intelligence, and communication technology,” said Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman.
Fountain’s purchase will strengthen the home services platform Porch has worked on over the past year. To date it has more than 3.8 million professionals signed up on the network, helping on 138 million projects. The company said that in the one-year period from September 1, 2014, $1.8 billion in potential new business was delivered to more than 100,000 home improvement professionals. The addition of Fountain may open up new revenue areas for Porch as it replaces a similar offering that had been operating in stealth in only Seattle and Chicago, Illinois.
In a statement, Patzer offered platitudes on the potential: “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.”
Fountain had previously raised $4 million in venture capital from Shasta Ventures and First Round Capital.
In addition to today’s announcement, Porch has also revealed that it has brought on board two new executives to fill out its leadership team. Joining the company are former Microsoft executive Eric Doerr as the new chief product officer and former Amazon UX design lead Jim Dantzler as Porch’s vice president of design.
Doerr spent more than 20 years working at Microsoft, where he was most recently the partner general manager for Microsoft Account and Azure Active Directory authentication. He led the identity services team that powers thousands of products such as Microsoft Office 365, Windows, Xbox, and Skype.
Dantzler is the former head of UX design for Amazon’s Instant Video service. He has also spent time creating great experiences on the Amazon homepage, product detail pages, and more.
To date, Porch has a sizable chunk of resources at its disposal. Besides what may appear to be a deep bench, the company has raised over $93 million in funding, with $66 million coming at the beginning of this year. Porch was founded in 2013 by Ehrlichman and four other cofounders: Scott Austin, Ha Phan, Ronnie Castro, and Eric Schleicher. It competes against the likes of Angie’s List, Pro.com, and Houzz.