Latch was a pretty good name for a startup. One could make the argument that it doesn’t exactly say what it does on the tin, but no one shops at the Apple Store looking for produce. Soon, however, Latch Inc. will die. In its place, we’re getting Door.com, which is a fine name for a 90s hardware supply website with a very specific niche.
Instead, it’s a signal of the startup’s expansion. Latch launched nearly a decade ago, with a focus on smart locks. The category has grown fairly crowded over the years, with legacy names like Yale and Kwikset entering the picture. The last few years saw Latch pivoting to more of a platform play, as it partnered with landlords and real estate firms.
Next year, however, Latch will become Door.com “to create a platform that superpowers the proud service providers that make the world go round.” What does that mean in non-marketing terms? I would say it signals an even greater expansion, this time beyond proptech.
The description, I think, is a bit vague by design, but the company offered a preview in the form of a ride-hailing app called James. At a time when the gig economy is squeezing more money from workers with diminishing returns, I would say the stated intentions are certainly good. The service describes itself thusly:
For the first time, you can truly keep the money you earn as a driver. Set your own price and keep 100% of the fare (a 5% fee for payment, credit card and platform is charged to your rider). You schedule and manage your bookings in the app, no more having to choose between managing customers on text messages or giving all of your profits to the rideshare platforms.
Door.com is being led by Ring founder Jamie Siminoff, who is adopting the moniker “Chief Doorman” (CEO for the rest of us). The executive left Ring in May, five years after the smart home firm was acquired by Amazon. He officially joined Latch the day after that news was announced.
His entrée into the company came when Latch purchased his brand new stealth startup, Honest Day’s Worker. That name gets no fewer than seven mentions in this morning’s press release. Rather than referencing the startup, however, Latch appears to have adopted the phrase to refer to gig workers (always in caps), generally.
“Upon its launch, Door.com will enable Honest Day’s Workers across industries to take control of their businesses, from scheduling to invoicing, while keeping their hard earned money in their pocket,” it writes. “With a user-friendly, end-to-end platform that simplifies day-to-day operations, delivers financial freedom, increases efficiency, and improves support, Door.com empowers Honest Day’s Workers to manage and grow their businesses on their terms.”
Again, making things less bad for gig workers is about as noble a goal as a startup can have these days, so if that’s Door.com’s focus, I can overlook not being totally in with the name. And yes, as a colleague pointed out, cars have doors — they have latches, too, but I digress.
The company is no doubt looking to move on from some high-profile issues. Latch was delisted from Nasdaq trading last month. “The company was unable to meet the deadline due to unexpected delays in the ongoing restatement of its historical financial statements,” it explained at the time. “The company continues to work diligently towards completing the restatement and filing its delinquent reports as soon as practicable.”
Latch IPOed via SPAC in 2021. Within months, its CFO stepped down, following a 60% decrease in share valuation.
“We’re here to support the Honest Day’s Workers—the service providers that truly care about the job they are doing,” Siminoff says in a release. We all know them when we meet them. We believe that technology should be there for them to use, not to use them. With James, drivers now have access to a platform that allows them to succeed and thrive. We’re here to serve the ones who serve us every day, and we look forward to creating a massive impact with Door.com and its respective brands.”
It’s true what they say: God doesn’t close a latch without opening a door(.com).