This company just raised millions to make tech layoffs more humane

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Continuum is a venture bet on part-time work and, even better, that the founders want to show humanity in times of crisis. The company, founded by CEO Nolan Church in August 2020, began as a game of connecting startups to part-time executive assistants. Now it has expanded to help tech companies cut staff in a more humane and thoughtful way.

“If you’re really thinking about where things went wrong, all you have to do is check out,” Church told TechCrunch. “CEO talks about himself, shoots Zoom en masse, no one-on-one communication…total disaster.” (No kidding).

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Instead, Church believes that administering layoffs “isn’t really that hard to do right” if the founder is focused on the right things. He speaks from experience: The founder was HR director at Carta when the company laid off 13% of the company. in April 2020. During this downsizing, Carta CEO Henry Ward took full responsibility for the layoffs, which Church pointed out is a key messaging move.

To learn and scale this lesson, Church is launching a new product, available today, that will link leadership teams to a human resources leader who can help develop a company communications plan, diversity and impact analysis, and a layoff support day.

In addition to supporting layoffs, Continuum offers executive assistance in a variety of use cases, from compensation strategy to talent acquisition. Think of it like a two-way market: Continuum brings together executives with experience in venture capital-backed companies, including leaders from Tesla, Plaid, Intercom, Snap, Carta, and Twitch, and connects them with companies that need help solving a particular problem. tasks or rotate.

The company claims that within 48 hours, the client will be matched with an executive who previously solved this exact problem. All payments are processed by Continuum, including contracts, invoices, payments, and taxes of a part-time executive.

With the layoff product, each startup gets one hour of free consultation, and then the price depends on the size of the company’s current headcount. If the company has between 20 and 100 full-time employees, there is a one-time fee of $10,000 for the reduction of any number of employees. If a startup has between 100 and 250 full-time employees, any reduction in workforce will cost $20,000.

If a founder can’t afford to have employees, can they really arrange subscriptions to help smooth out the inevitable downsizing of the workforce? Purchasing yet another SaaS tool or consulting service may seem like a nice touch rather than a necessity, depending on how good the Continuum sales team is.

“We’re talking about a very small cost to maintain your brand, your reputation and your progressive culture,” Church said. “If you don’t handle layoffs well, you still have a team that you have to re-motivate and orient towards the future of the company.” Future success, according to the founder, is worth the “little money” behind the investment.

The broader goal of Continuum also hinges on how upstart startups get comfortable with the idea of ​​part-time executives. Church believes the recession will accelerate the trend for startups to rely more on contractors, consultants, advisors and angel investors to contribute to the company. Part-time workers help mitigate risk, fill key gaps at critical times, and save additional money as a company tries to focus on sustainable growth.

“I think it will look like 60% full-time and 40% part-time compared to 95% full-time and 5% part-time today,” he said.

In addition, quality assurance is a challenge in any market, especially when demand is growing. According to Continuum, less than 1% of applicants for executive positions are currently accepted. However, if the product of layoffs or part-time jobs becomes more popular, how can a company quickly find a set of highly qualified former executives to take on the job?

Church pointed out that most CEOs and operators in the early-stage startup world only experienced bear markets, at least when they were leaders, and the same could be true for the talent they attract. A company may find it necessary to educate managers on how best to handle layoffs and then let those leaders educate customers.

Despite the challenges, Continuum’s ambitious, end-to-end vision helped the startup secure a $12 million Series A led by Pelion Ventures with input from Uncork Capital, Day One Ventures and angel investors including the CEOs of DoorDash, Divvy and Thumbtack.

The company declined to disclose the valuation.

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