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No company is unaffected by this crisis, but some are better off than others. I spoke Monday to Dan Springer, CEO of e-signature company Docusign, to find out how business is and how he’s dealing with the emergency.
Docusign charges businesses for electronic transactions, like purchase orders or contracts. Customers buy “capacity” in bulk. Springer says that because his company already was serving the “digital transformation” trend now being accelerated by the temporary end of face-to-face business, it has held its own so far. Of course, he’s concerned there will be customers who put all spending on hold. “We’ve seen a little, little bit of that,” he says. At the same time, customers like banks and government agencies, not traditional work-from-home environments, have stepped up purchases.
Even an all-digital business must cope. Weeks ago, the company converted its internal sales kickoff meeting and then its external customer conference to virtual events. Shortly after that it suspended all travel that didn’t involve customers. (Emily Heath, the company’s chief security and trust officer, had only recently arrived from United Airlines and impressed upon her colleagues the potential dangers from a pandemic.) Before long, the entire company was working from home.
Springer, a repeat CEO, portrays Docusign as fortunate to be helpful to customers and employees. It has created a 90-day free program for small businesses and is helping real estate agents, a core and imperiled customer set, to downgrade to no- or low-cost packages. It has given $1,000 grants to all employees to spend on short-term needs, like arranging for day care. And it is retaining all hourly workers. He’s also asking employees to be flexible. Sunday night a group worked late into the night to help a big bank implement Docusign’s product. He says if no one needs you at 10:00 a.m., then “go play with your kids.”
The CEO cops to having “no clue” how long this will last. But for business-planning purposes, he told a virtual all-hands meeting 10 days ago to expect to work from home for eight weeks. He’s also doing his best not to look at the company’s stock price, which has held up remarkably well.
Springer also is doing his best to keep things light, including by encouraging virtual happy hours. An East Coast sales manager asked him to join one last Friday, and though it was only 2:00 p.m. in California, he raised a glass to the webcam. He calls this the equivalent of the “walking around stuff” managers need to do all the time—and especially when times get tough. Even if the walking around is by Zoom.
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.