GGV Live Special: Mobilizing Distributed Teams in Crisis – featuring HashiCorp and HelloBike

This episode is the last of our 3-part-webinar series on how founders and leaders are dealing with the current global crisis. It was hosted by GGV’s Head of Talent Jennifer Holmstrom and featured Dylan Tey, Senior VP of HelloBike, one of China’s biggest mobility service platforms, which manages a 30,000 flexible ground operators and Jeff Harper, Chief People Officer at HashiCorp, an enterprise software company that has its entire engineer team distributed across the world.

We covered 3 key decisions each company made in the wake of COVID-19, the systems put in place to mobilize a big team in crisis, and the long-term impact this virus have on their industries.

*HelloBike and HashiCorp are both GGV portfolio companies

TRANSCRIPT: 

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Jennifer Holmstrom and I’m with GGV capital where I lead the talent function from San Francisco, and I am thrilled to be here today with our esteemed guests, Dylan Tey, who is a senior vice president at HelloBike, the leading bike sharing app and company by count of the bikes across the world. Dylan leads finance and legal functions for HelloBike. And he is here to give us perspective from a company that spans 35,000 employees in a distributed fashion. So, he’s grappled with the recent state of affairs with the Coronavirus, and we’ll have an interesting perspective there.

And we also have Jeff Harper here, who is the chief people officer at a company called HashiCorp, which is located in San Francisco but originated with a distributed engineering team all over the world. And HashiCorp is an enterprise software company that started with open source developer tools for enterprise infrastructure, and it also has commercial products now. So HashiCorp has almost 1000 employees and is originated with a completely new distributed technical team.

Dylan Tey:

Nice to see everyone online and hope everyone’s keeping well. My name is Dylan Tey. I’m a Malaysian Chinese. I’ve been in Shanghai for about 16 years. So currently, I work with a company called HelloBike. We are a company very deep rooted in the two-wheeled system mobility market in China. So our company basically has invested more than 10 million bikes, both on normal bike as well as E-bikes that go across 360 cities across China. Currently I am based in Shanghai, and I look after the finance function and the legal function, setting up the whole financial system infrastructure for this company. Prior to this, I was with another company called WeDoctor, which is a mobile healthcare. I was a CFO there. And prior to that I was a partner in PwC in China, focusing on tech.

Jeff Harper:

So I joined HashiCorp at the beginning of 2019. And at that time, the company was about 350. It was started in 2012 by two technologists, basically they had worked at another company and found the challenge of connecting their different infrastructural pieces, whether it’s applications or systems to the cloud. And they specifically had difficulty with the fact that they were using multiple cloud partners, when they reached out to friends and colleagues who worked at other companies, they found that this was an ongoing problem that everyone was having. And essentially, they had to either use the tools that were provided by the cloud partner, which locked them into that cloud partner, or they had to build them by themselves.

And what happened is people were spending significant amounts of time doing any number of different activities and the four core elements that we focus on are provisioning, security, runtime and networking. So when they were looking at how do we spin up and dial back in terms of provisioning, virtual equipment, how do we deal with the secure transmission across these partners and so forth. These are the things that were taking extensive periods of time, every time they needed to do different activities. And so they saw this gap, they started building this as purely open source to create something for that community for the practitioners to help ease the pain. And when they decided to set it up as a company back in 2012, that is all purely around the open source. It wasn’t until around 2014, 2015 where they started looking at the commercialization and support structure, supporting that open source product. Realizing that there was even more that people needed, especially when you get to some of larger companies. And look at things like the Global 2000, they will leverage open source, in fact, surprisingly some of these massive companies still use these open source products to serve their needs.

And other ones will say, we want to be more in the commercial relationships so we can ensure that there’s uptime that their service provides. And these two gentlemen, Mitchell Hashimoto and Armon Dadgar, they’re focused on this and their commitment to this was so strong and so passionate, that led them all the way through to where we are today. And since I joined in 2019, it has grown from around 350 people to almost 1000 today. So we hired more people last fiscal year that we hired in the entire history of the company, and that’s including everybody who left or everybody who was still there. Not just a phenomenal feat for for hiring, but that’s an incredible testament to the culture of the company, and the leaders at all different levels of the organization to help ensure that we’re preserving our culture and being consistent with who we are. Culture is defined by the majority. And as of now the majority has less than a years of experience, so preserving that is incredibly challenging. As for me, I’ve been doing this for about 25 years. I’ve been working in a variety of tech industries. I came over from a SaaS based company that focused on fitness and wellness, I was the senior vice president of people and culture there called Mind Body. Prior to that, I was in digital media. I’ve worked in the biotech industry, also in a couple of video game companies, and even back in the day I was with Capital One.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Given that China was a little bit ahead of the rest of the world in facing this current crisis that we’re in, would love to hear your perspective just as soon as the you know, the leadership team at hellobike realized how serious the situation was with COVID-19 . What were the first three key decisions that you made as a management team?

Dylan Tey:

I think everyone know this COVID-19 hit China back in late January. I think that was around the time of Chinese New Year. So Chinese New Year is a very big time for us in China,  similar to Christmas or thanksgiving in the States. So at that time, I think we had to make a few quick and important decisions. A little bit of background, Jane is right about describing that we have about 35,000 people that we hire on a distributor basis, but out of 35,000, 5000 are our full-time employees, the other 30,000 are what we called the part-time ground operators, managing our bike fleet. We have invested more than 10 million bikes. That data is spread across 360 cities in China, so we need a lot of flexible workforce to manage those bikes on a daily basis.

So when COVID-19 first happened, I think the first thing we need to decide was we need to really put together some of the revision in our normal standard operating procedures for our ground operators, because these are the operators which are closest to our bike fleet, and they are closest to the services that we provide to our customers. We were focusing on our customers needs at the point of time, people can understand that people are worried about even riding bicycles, because you might get infected and you’re not sure whether you’re safe. So the first thing that we did was we started revising our SOPs regarding how we basically cleaning and sanitizing our bike. And also we have started procuring a huge amount of PPE (personal protective equipment) such as a mask, gloves, sanitizers during those difficult times. At that time, I think just purchasing those things are not enough, we also need to make sure our frontline operators understand the importance of keeping safety first for all users and our customers. So we had to expand our appraisal systems to include performance measures, which includes like a cleanliness sanitization level of our bikes, are making sure that they are aware that this and they’re aware and fully aligned that they need to keep the bikes really clean for users.

Of course in the back, we also need to have improved procedures regarding sanitizing and cleaning our bikes before they leave our parking lots. We need to also have some strict protocol to making sure that on a periodic basis, our operators go onto the street and go to the areas where our active movement of our bikes and sanitizing those bikes with our handlers and cart seats, and we should have a portion of device that they had contact with our users. So we did have to do this before COVID-19 generally, there was about the first thing, the second thing that I think we have to deal with is, as we come back from Chinese New Year, we will face an acute of shortage of our own ground operators, because due to the lockdown in China, not just Hubei province, Wuhan, but actually movements of people across China, we’re quite restricted. And because of Chinese New Year, most of our operators has already gone back to their respective hometowns and their home cities. So they’re not back in where they’re supposed to be working for us. So a lot of them were late returning to their positions, but our business continues, so we had to improvise. So in the middle of February, we started and announced the employee sharing plan across China.

Mentioning we have a shortage of about 8000 operators, within one week, very surprisingly, we had about 5000 resumes, from about people over 28 provinces, a lot of people looking for jobs. There are people who are taxi drivers, there are people who are restaurant workers. Because as restaurants were closed, there were no mobility and taxi fleets are not moving as well. So these people can apply for jobs with us. So we did manage to fulfill quite a number of our needs based on those people coming in, so we had to retrain them, and we need to quickly get up to speed. And so I think that was the second thing we did, to cope with our shortage of ground operators.

So finally, I think on the production line, because from February to April, actually, is typically springtime in China. It’s a very good time for us to put out new bikes on the road. So we were expecting a lot of production for our new fleet around this time of the year, from February to April. But similarly our factories, our suppliers, they’re having staff shortages as well. So a lot of them were facing disrupted supply chains. For us, we also launched what we called Business Partner Assistance Program in February. So basically in that program, we provide them the information system, the supply chain information, including our information system with them and making sure we sync with them what we need and collaborating the entire supply chain, making sure that the least disruption possible. We also provide them with labor related information about which part or which cities are allowed to start work and how it affects them, to help them to move around our supply chain and their processes. So that we can have the whole thing. We also help them with development and retraining of employees. I think we went to the extreme of even sending our own people to the factories. So I think these are three things, for sanitization of our fleet, shortage for our operators and supply chain.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

And then you handle the movement of your labor. So, certain of your employees being stuck in, having an influx of inbound to hire.

Dylan Tey:

So we use a lot of zoom obviously, during those times.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

A lot of virtual conferencing.

Dylan Tey:

A lot. we are spoiled with different tools in China. Other than zoom, we also have DingTalk, Tencent meeting, and other virtual tools to help us. But thankfully, we managed to get it through.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

And Jeff, with us in the US a little bit more recent, relatively recent situation related to COVID-19. What was the HashiCorp response in terms of the first three actions that the leadership team took to address the crisis and how did it affect your workforce? Maybe you can describe the HashiCorp workforce a little bit.

Jeff Harper:

Absolutely. It was interesting for us because we have around 85% to 90% of our workforce is distributed. We have folks in 13 countries and we’ve been that way since the beginning. In fact, even though our headquarters is in San Francisco, our two co-founders who are co-CTOs, one is in the northeast and the other one is down in LA. So they are two co-founders aren’t even at the headquarters, and our entire engineering team, every single one is distributed. Our head of engineering lives in the Bay Area, and she’s in the office, not now, but typically a couple of times a week. So, that has been a mindset since the very beginning.

In fact, it’s very intentional. It’s very designed in that way. And I can share a little bit about that in a minute. But I want to get to your question. So being distributed kind of helped us but it also created a challenge because every year we do an annual event where we bring all of our team members every single one together,for an event that we call HEX, the HashiCorp  Employee Exchange, where we’re all getting together. It’s a three day event. That happened at the end of February. So it was on the 24th through the 28th of February when that was happening. At the time in the US, when we were all leaving to join this event, there were about 35 cases in the US, and no deaths. There were about, I don’t know, 79,000 or 80,000 cases globally and probably about 2500 deaths. But in the US it was minimal impact. By the end of the event, there were still no deaths in the US, but it went from 35 to 63. And that gave us a strong indication that we need to act, and we need to act quickly, even though there was not a lot of movement in the US in terms of people taking action.

On the following Monday, on March 2, we issued out directions to our team members and that was our first action which we suspended all travel. We canceled all events and group meetings. That wasn’t just for travel, but it was any kind of localized off sites or gatherings of our team. And then any in person meetings in the office, we said that if you have customers coming in, please cancel those. We also directed even though our office was still open at the time, we said that if anybody in your family is sick, if you have anybody in your family who’s immunocompromised, or if you or someone in your household is pregnant, basically, don’t come into the office, make sure that you’re taking care of yourself first. So we wanted to do that. That was on the second of March. At that time, I think the global cases grew to around 90,000. In the US, we just hit 100 at that point of time, but over that weekend, it went from went from zero deaths to six deaths in the US. And there were 500 additional deaths globally over that weekend.

That was on March 2, by March 10, things had progressed pretty significantly. And we closed our office. We had everybody start working from home, and we weren’t the first one. So there are many in the Bay Area started doing it at that point of time. The cases were still also fairly limited. We are just doing it in the abundance of caution. And I always say that my first and foremost charge is to ensure the safety and well being of our team members. So we did that on the 10th of March. And our first internal case of the team member happened on March 12. So two days after we shut our office when we found out we had our first case, it was an employee out of the UK, who h was customer facing, who had met with a couple of different companies during that period of time. And we immediately went out and contacted each of the team members who had been working with the person, notified those companies, went through procedures.

By the 18th of March, we put together our task force. And on the 20th, we issued out an internal web source and started to put together a collection of actions to support our team members. And now we have our website up there that provides resources and ideas of ways to support people, as adults, as parents, as managers, and then also in terms of their own self care. We wanted to think of it comprehensively there. But I mean, we were also in a little bit more favorable position in a couple of ways, like Dylan mentioned, HelloBike there is a lot of physical connection points with their consumers, and we don’t have as much of that. I mean, we are cloud based. We do have our sales team, and some of our customer success people who will be out with the customer.

But that is very easy for us to migrate away from that kind of motion. And so our team 85% -90% distributed means that we can more quickly move that way. In fact, our teams heavily operated that way leveraging the Zoom and Slack and other digital media mediums for connecting. That said, we’ve been a big proponent, and we’ve published various things that have said what is happening today is not remote work. And in fact, I’ve attempted to try and shift some of the lexicon to start saying that we are not, we are not remote. We are not remote. First, what we are is we’re strategically distributed because the way that we have our teams distributed, the way that they operate and how we approve things is very structural and intentional.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

We actually have a question from the audience that asked what was the original rationale and strategy for HashiCorp to have a distributed tech team in first place, even pre-pandemic? And what were the benefits then and you’re getting into what life is like now?

Jeff Harper:

I have to say it was one of the things that really fascinated me about HashiCorp, and one of the big reason that I was attracted to the opportunity. I I truly believe that the idea of enabling a remote working medium is going to be key going forward. It’s kind of the future it’s not saying that people will all work in a distributed fashion. It means that needs to be enabled. And from some functions, it actually will be the standard by which they operate. So we started out from an engineering capacity that way, and Mitchell Hashimoto is as some very clear ways in which he articulates it. I think it’s wonderful. He says that we are intentionally and absolutely from an engineering perspective distributed. The reason being is if you are going to have your teams either together or apart, you need to have it be that in total, the moment that we start having our congregations operational groupings of engineering, that’s where centers of decisions start to take place. And even in small groups, if we decided to have a remote team in Seattle, have a dozen engineers sitting together, they will have a collection of conversations that will then not include others outside of that region, decisions will be made. And what happens is, then you get a behavioral pattern by which they start doing it without consulting us and others start to abdicate that responsibility to those groups, by forcing all to be distributed. What we’re also doing is creating a forcing function by which they all connect and collaborate.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

It’s enabling and driving behavior.

Jeff Harper:

Correct. And so we’ve specifically said for engineering in the way that we operate is we do not want them sitting together, by doing so, if you decide to do that you can, but you need to figure out are you going to be doing it with all of a certain type of group. If you’re doing a network operation center, you pull all of that together. If you do software release engineers, do you do all of those together? You can do it with certain groups, but you need to have instead of thinking about it purely from a geographic perspective, think about it from an operational perspective, how do they interact? How do they connect and communicate? Because by your actions of putting them together, you’re going to create behavioral changes.

And not just of them, but of those who are not part of that group, and that’s kind of the impetus and the driver.

The other things we’ve done is we’ve taken colocation out of the equation and said, what it is, it’s the, again, the operational motions that they go through. So, any two engineers on a team can be no more than four timezones apart from one another. With the exception of certain senior engineers, which we still say have to have three hours of overlap work hours with their manager, thereby allowing for, so it’s now about timezone and you can go anywhere, in terms of longitude, you can go anywhere, because the timezones will remain consistent. It’s more about the latitude which is going to create the the issue here.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

That’s interesting, and thank you for that. It’s a fascinating model, and one that appreciate you sharing, because it’s one that now we’re by forcing function many of us are in, whether by design or not, but Hashi certainly has been that way since the beginning.

Jeff Harper:

And to be clear that I spoke purely from an engineering perspective, there are different ways. This is another thing that I would advise, one of the things that we’ve learned is do not think of it unilaterally across your organization, try to think in segments of like, how do your sales teams work in terms of your sales representatives, those account managers, your solution engineers, that will partner with your sales reps and so forth. Customer Service, how does that work? So each of those, if you think of them from an operational cadence perspective, how do they operate, then you’re going to be able to think more about how you might set up that remote working structure.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Good insight there. And Dylan, you alluded to the nature of the workforce at HelloBike where you have 5000 full-time people and then 30,000 distributed across many cities. How do you manage those 30,000 ground operators in these different cities, and how has this particular system made you more resilient through the Black Swan event that is the Coronavirus?

Dylan Tey:

Obviously, I think we had 30,000 people even before COVID-19 and I think to manage this amount of people and people working on a part-time basis. We had to have a very strong I will say system and software to support our functions and daily operation to make sure that everything is seamless and at least hiccup possible on a daily basis. So China as you know, is a very big country and you’re already saying we have been operating in about 360 cities. So we have internal generator software, we call it the bike operating system, we call it BOS system. So that BOS system is you can think of it as an app, and each and every one of our operator has to have installed it on smartphones. So thanks to smartphones, every one of them are installed on a smartphone and this is how we connect with them.

And on a daily basis, basically, just imagine if you are one operators, every morning you come and report work. If it is on your date of duty, you’ll come and report work on your BOS system. And your bosses basically will tell you what you need to do today, where is the location of the bikes that you need to go and fix, because maybe some customers complained about it, or maybe some of the potential losses of our bikes because we have lost contact of them in the last eight hours or not. And they have to clear this to do list so to speak before the end of the day. So this is how we remind them to let them finish. But a lot of them were seeing practice as to challenge themselves and they actually want to finish more tasks. So if they’re finished their minimal to do list, and they do more they actually get bonuses and more incentives.

And of course, our app is very easy to use. So they basically use that on a day to day work. And before the end of the day, they need to really kind of report back if there’s any issues with the work we assigned to them. Any questions or suggestions. So that’s how we communicate with them.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

We have a question from the audience about training. So how did you train your temp workers that you employed or they may be hourly that you still have but that you hire? During the crisis, how did you train them and train them quickly?

Dylan Tey:

So it was a good place to bring how we manage our team. So our 30,000 people are spread across different cities, even if they’re in the same city, they’re spread into different grid areas. So we basically divide the city that we have into different grids, not necessarily in the same area, but depending on the demographics and the landscape of the city, we divide the cities into different grids. So on every grid, on average, there’s about one to three people manning those grids on the ground, for one grid, to make sure the bikes that we have in this grid area remains in optimal and strategically place, streets or locations. So some of more junior operators, they may just look at a small greet, one grid or two grids, the ones with more experience will look at a couple at one go, and also helping other less experienced operators along the way. So there are obviously ranking, the more experienced people that are incentivized a bit more. And when they become better, they become manager and some of them actually even become a full-time city managers when they become. So we also have a very well-established system to move out part-time to full-time if they’re proved to be competent and suitable for our companies culture and values. So that’s really how we praise our people and keep them, and obviously by doing that, they have apprenticeship type of training as well, of course doing the Apps are very easy to use. We also give them instructions and videos and we also teach them how to do all those things.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

There is a question from the audience around the motivation. It sounds like you’d have a very structured progression system and there’s ladders and progression within the organization. And all that is made possible which I’m sure incentivizes those employees and those workers.

Dylan Tey:

Yes, I think on top of that, maybe just topping it up a little bit. Just to elaborate on the last final point is to put all these things in perspective, I think, honestly, other than the software and the people, we use algorithms to help our work. Because when we first started out a lot of time, we depend on the grid operators or the operators in the respective grids. Based on their experience and their knowledge of this particular grid, where should the bikes be placed at what time. So over time, those were human-based, experiential based decisions that they made, but over time, we realized that the accuracy is about 60% to 70% optimal. We use algorithm to track different information like weather, historical demand, traffic conditions, school holidays, the different factors in play to decide where should the bikes be placed. So we used algorithm, and we do a lot A/B testing on their judgment versus the computers judgment or algorithm judgment, and across time we use machine learning to really formulate better, where we call bike balancing decisions to know how we balance our bikes. We are very thin margin industry. So cost effectiveness is really the key. So we need to know when to move our bikes, where to move our bikes to who will move those bikes, and make sure the bikes don’t get lost on the way.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Right, not an easy task but with the help of ML and algorithm for improving decision making.

Dylan Tey:

We are still learning every day.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Yes, that’s great. We have a question from the audience around motivating employees who work from home. Jeff, maybe you can take a shot at this. Since you know Hashi’s been doing this since the inception of the company. What do your practices around motivation look like?

Jeff Harper:

I think a lot of our practices around motivation are really about the idea of inclusivity. And how do we create the sense, many companies I’ve worked for in the past, whether it’s people who are working from home or whether they’re working in a satellite location, there’s always been a sense of an afterthought, were being treated differently. And being that 85% to 90% of our workforces is actually distributed and working from home, that is a heavy majority. And so most of the things that we do, we build with the idea of that population in mind. So our training is designed around the idea of virtual and distributed learning. And then if we apply it in person, then that’s an adaptations. So we try to have that be the first piece.

The second is working at ways in which we connect. There’s all sorts of little practices and tricks and tips, whether you’re using like Slack, DonutChat or other things, teams getting together since most of my team is work out of the San Francisco office, I’d say probably about two thirds of my team works there. Then is now working from home. We’re doing things like a couple of times a week, we are doing a morning coffee check in. It’s not business, it’s not anything, sometimes people will log in and just listen to voices while they’re doing work, so like it kind of breaks the silence for them.

We also have programs like our work from home comfort budget, in addition to equipping them with a fully set up office at home, we also provide them with a fixed dollar amount every month to pay for different things whether they want to just get supplies instead of having to order paper and pencil through corporate or post it, or I need to get a new this, new that. They can get some basic technological equipment from us, and we will always help them with that, but if they want to get like coffee from their local coffee place, it’s whatever we can do to help them feel that they’re also benefiting from this type of experience.

And then more recently with the situation around COVID-19, and we’ve expanded that and started to specifically design ways in which people can use this. We’ve started looking at things and helping them identify if you want to do an Xbox Live subscription, if you want to do your Peloton subscription, any number of ways in which you can leverage this to help enhance your life. I had somebody once tell me early on in my career, it’s don’t focus on the employee, focus on the person. And if you focus on the person and their family and making sure that the holistic person is happy, one person said it to me, you can make their spouse happy that they work there then you truly want and made it more difficult for them to leave because their spouse doesn’t want him to leave. So that’s why I say focus on the person, not the employee.

So those are some kind of like practices. It’s more about a mindset. And then there are various steps that we do. I will say this, one of the things that I’ve found interesting is and I’m kind of one of these people, some people don’t, the work from home is not their practice, it doesn’t work well for them. People will find it difficult to unplug, to separate the work to realize that when they are done, they now have to close and step away. But we’ve also used this opportunity for us to communicate with folks that just because somebody is reaching out just because somebody is responding, that doesn’t mean that’s the time for you to do it. We want to have a, in the US we have flexible time off, but we also have flexible schedules. So if I send an email at 10 o’clock at night, that does not mean that you send an email response to 10:05. That means you send it when you need it. We want people to work according and that’s a hard thing. People will hear it and say, sure, but is that really what you mean? And we’ve made it very explicit we have to say it and then say it and then say it again. So people understand that you really mean it, this is about flexible schedules to ensure that people are working in the cadence that works for them.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

So it’s cultural.

Jeff Harper: Very much

Jennifer Holmstrom:

That’s great. Thank you for that. Dylan, we have a question from the audience for you. About the impact of the of the crisis on a bike, how did you see micro mobility as an industry get affected during the crisis in China, and how is it revived? How does it come back? You’ve spoken to a little bit about how you cope with those changes, but speak a little bit about the initial impact and then how you’ve been doing since?

Dylan Tey:

Sure. Obviously, the initial impact was very sudden and abrupt. I think, thankfully, it happened during the Chinese New Year time. The Chinese New time in China is always the, I would say the quietest season for our entire year of operating our bike fleet. Reason being people you know, I’m not going to work, I’m on holiday mode. And also it is winter in China. But even then, we do have stats for our rides before the Chinese New Year. And compared to after the Chinese year there was a significant, I would say a significant decline. And I think it was a kind of a cliff drop really from the time before, because people are not moving. We serve our users based on rides, I mean, like, on average, we serve like 20 over million rides a day. After Chinese New Year, so it was really a sudden stop. And I think after the event, people started coming back to work, I think starting from 10th of February.

For example, for our company, we started working on 10th of February, obviously over on progressive manner and people coming back at different time, and likewise I think over China that reopening takes time. But we see it, we see the recovery of our rides move in tandem with the reopening of the businesses and the industries. Really in line with that, in fact, we also track our numbers against public transportations, and other transportation means and I think our recovery are so far the best compared to public transportation and others. For one maybe simple reason, people feel safer to be on the two wheeler, compared to be on the public transportation during this COVID-19.

Yes, so we do have some interesting stats. If I remember, I think we do see people riding longer distance, because in the past, I mean, on average day before COVID, our users who use our bike generally go between one to three kilometers. But after the COVID, we actually see a lot of them traveling with more than three kilometers, even stretching up to five. There’s quite a lot of traveling for a normal user. And especially for big cities such as like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, we do see a lot of increased traveling longer distance. And we also see, Let’s say in Guangzhou, one of the cities that has seen a very good recovery, I think we see that right after the COVID, the week they start to come back to work, I think we actually we actually came back, that week’s ride was about 60% more than the week prior to this COVID time. So actually, we have a very sharp recovery there. So all in all, I think honestly we are still quite optimistic about the overall recovery in our space, and hopefully this momentum can continue.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

That’s fantastic. And given that, this is our new normal,  good to see some optimism there and the curve. That’s great. And then same question to you, Jeff, just about the economic impact for this. This is a newer scenario in the US, but how is HashiCorp addressing this? What’s the enterprise software landscape look like in the US so far? Are you seeing a big change in demand? Or how is the economic affecting the software industry in the US?

Jeff Harper:

I think it’s mixed for us. It’s sort of depends on a number of different things. For some of the larger companies out there, the impact is minimal. When you look at the technology based companies, they tend to be somewhat unaffected but are also proceeding with caution. When you see companies that rely on larger kind of grouping of people, like if you look at anything from the hospitality to travel industry, those obviously will be affected. But for us, what we’re seeing is there is still a decent amount of interest being expressed in our efforts. And in some ways, it’s increased for some companies because they’re starting to see the necessity to migrate to a heavier reliance on cloud level activity. And how do we operate in that environment as opposed to on-prem and having people locally congregated and so forth? So there’s some of that. So we’re seeing interest. The thing I’m curious about is how does that translate to action or decision or actual kind of contractual engagements. It is going to be that people are curious and interested in feel that they need to move forward because now we’re trying to move more to a virtual interaction. Yet when it comes time to pulling the trigger on the decision, if that may be slower. So, like the sales motion, the expands motions, those things may be a little slower. I’m interested to see how that that flushes out.

We’re not seeing a lot of difference from an engineering and product perspective. The areas that we have always seen some pretty heavy demand around like our terraform product, which is around provisioning, that still has heavy demand, vault, which is around security, that still has heavy demand. So some of that is remaining consistent, but it’s more, I don’t want anyone to say trepidation, but it’s like there’s like slight apprehension of like, do we make the decision, knowing that there’s things, and I think that’s some of the ways in which we’re approaching things from our perspective, we’ve been growing like crazy, we’re continuing to hire, we’re continuing to move forward, but we’re doing it much more almost strategically, we’re focused on things like our sales engine product, those are the areas where we’re going to be investing, we want to make sure that the product is there. Some of our focus is a little bit more internal. And all of this is allowing us to focus a little bit more internal. So I think that there is a slowing of action, but there’s not necessarily a slowing of interest.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

And it’s so interesting for both of you completely different industries, totally different customers, and one consumer, one enterprise, and that crisis is presented actual opportunity for both your businesses. So figuring out how to capitalize on that and figure out a path forward is an interesting challenge.

Jeff Harper:

There was one thing that Dylan talked about that I really liked is the thinking forward, thinking about how things are going to look going forward, none of us really know what that emerging new normal will look like. But right now, if you are in a position as a company to be thinking there, keep focusing on the here now, but also start thinking about that future both from the business operational consumer perspective, but also from your employee perspective, and your growth perspective so that you can make sure because people may have long memories and they will remember how you handled things today in terms of who you are and how they want to be part of that story going forward.

Dylan Tey:

Actually, yeah, I think just adding on to what Jeff has said, I echo to the point because for us,  Hello Global, we also continue to invest in our strategic businesses other than our bike businesses. Since last year, we have been moving into our E-scooter, ecommerce business, as well as the battery swapping business on the use on two wheelers. So those businesses, we are seeing very good recovery and growth perspective as well. So we’re actually putting more of our talents into those new businesses. And quite interestingly, we actually managed to compete around financing recently during the time of COVID, for our battery swapping business.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Congratulations.

Dylan Tey:

It’s round A, so we’re very excited about that. So I think what Jeff just said really resonates with me, I think that we need to look long term, we need to create custome value, of course, internally we create better for employees.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Yeah, that’s great. So one of the questions from the audience is what’s next for HelloBike? And in response, you’re raising money, hiring people and moving forward with new product lines?

Dylan Tey:

Obviously, fundraising is going to be tough this year, so I think we’re very happy that we close a round for battery swapping business, but all in all, we still need to be very cautious in terms of spending, in terms of where we put our capital, where’s the best place to deploy our capital. And what is the optimal structure for company like us. We have to constantly invest in renewing and upgrading our fleet, and coming up with new products. This year, we have launched our new product just these two months, we are putting nicer and more user-friendly even the next version of bikes on the road.

So we plan to invest a couple of million of bikes this year. Other than that, I think what’s next for HelloBike, other than two wheelers, we also looking at expanding our footprint into consumer and lifestyle offerings, I think, because we were still on top of 300 million users in China, all them in China. So with this very high frequency of mobility, and our strong presence that we already have in the lower tier cities and 360 cities, how can we meet the diversified needs of our users? So we are also stepping out our recruitment in that front to try to bring in more operational talents, technology talents into our new businesses in the consumer space.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

So we actually have a question about that for both of you around hiring now. How are you approaching the hiring process for all different kind of levels of the hierarchy? Are you doing any of remote completely? I mean, Jeff has no option here, but is it being done Dylan completely remotely?

Dylan Tey:

For us, obviously, we are still hiring, but I think because things have been coming back to life in China already, so some of the recruitment are still happening in person. Obviously we do use a lot of technology like Zoom and DingTalk and others to help us, WeChat in China to help us to get in touch with our candidates. I think we’re hiring for good talents. I think we should always continue to look out for good talents. And in fact, it’s a pretty good time in China to look for good talents because some businesses are suffering. Some startups are facing challenges, and some people are thinking of moving. So we do see some opportunity there.

Jeff Harper:

I would say for us, we’ve always had a significant portion of our hiring process that has been virtual. Now it’s fully virtual, every piece of it. And also our on-boarding, on-boarding is fully virtual. So the entire experience means that somebody goes from the first introduction to the company to being here for a full month and never having met in person, somebody from the company. So we’ve  really heavily landed on that and made sure that part of it is refining our process, making sure that we’re very disciplined in how we’re capturing our data, how we’re sharing information across the teams in terms of calibrating our decisioning process. But as for hiring, we’re very opportunistic right now, focusing on what are those key needs for the organization. We have an enhanced screening process, not on candidates, but for our decisions of the positions that we’re going to be targeting, to make sure that they’re absolutely right long-term, high impact, high value.

And then we’re also looking at how do we look at our out plan? And that means that as we come out the other side, what are the actions we’re taking today that make us in a strategically advantageous position? So Dylan talks about there are companies that are struggling and talents out there? Well, there are also people that I mean, oftentimes, the companies when they’re letting go people, they’re not going to let go of their best people. So how do we make ourselves a very attractive opportunity at the other end of this, it’s like we haven’t had some of those same challenges, but we’ve also made sure that the way that we’re bringing people in, the way that we’re treating our current employees, the way that we’re promoting our employment brand, that at the other end, if they’re seeing struggling in their company with the best talent, they will want to have the conversations with us. So it is thinking both short and long term at the same time.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

Yep. And then we’re getting up near time here. But one last question from the audience just around the way looking forward six months. Not that anybody has a crystal ball, but Dylan, what would you anticipate? What are you looking forwards, given that China’s coming back to work, everything’s kind of returning. What does this look like six months from now?

Dylan Tey:

I think six months from now obviously I think we are at the new normal. I think in China, we already started a new normal I think the we do see recovery of businesses, but we also see potentially some turbulence in other parts of the economy, especially those that will be affected by the export, China is a pretty export-relying economy. And I think there are parts of the economy that will be affected. We also see potentially these companies will take some time to recover. And I think it will have some a bit of effect on the rest of the economy in terms of confidence and in terms of full scale recovery to the pre-crisis level. So I think we are looking at a new normal, but we’re still very optimistic about at least our industry in a tubular mobilities industry in China, as well as those some various new businesses and we have launched last year, and we think when we are in the myth of launching this year, I think we do hope fingers crossed that we do get some momentum there and building up new businesses and serving our customers better.

And on the talent side. We want to continue to hire the best technology and operational talents in the market that will help our businesses, create value for our customers. At the same time, we are also looking at more retraining for our people, increased training for people, because we also have a very young workforce. We’ve got 5000 people in our back, just like HashiCorp, a lot of our people were also recruited over the last two years. So having them to continue to bond better, to work better with one another, to all be able to realize their own potential in our company. That’s something that we are heavily focusing on right now In the talent management.

Jeff Harper:

I think I look at the next six months as it would be great if it is our new normal, I think it has the potential to be an interim normal, that we’re still looking at some of the transitions until there are certain things that can be put in place, you’re going to see different companies operating at different phases of normality. I don’t anticipate that it will be the same as it is today. I think that one of the things that will be advantageous for us is the extent to which we’re having to operate in a virtual capacity means that it will help our efforts to grow in that way. It’s forcing a lot of our customers and our potential customers to use that cadence. And as such, I believe that it has the potential for us to accelerate some of our entrance into some of these companies. I think it also means that we’ll be able to start looking at more of things like the cloud offerings that we have that will create a lower lift for customers.

From an internal perspective, one of the things that I mentioned just now that I really appreciate it is the focus on training of existing employees, goes back to how are we showing, some of that is virtue signaling to our team members, showing them what we value and what our belief structure is in the investment in people is going to be a key thing. So the more that we can show them our commitment, the more that they feel connected and cared for.

Jennifer Holmstrom:

That’s great. We are at time but really appreciate all the sharing both of you have done, incredibly valuable insights. So thank you both and wishing you the very best going forward. Thank you to our audience today. Thank you for dialing in.

Dylan Tey:

Thank you.

Jeff Harper:

Thank you. Have a good day. Take care. Bye