The first quarter of 2018, ended with a host of good news for the HR Technology industry with an estimated USD 1 billion invested in VC and other funding in the industry, the first quarter of 2018 has certainly set the pace for the rest of the year.
In April, as we look at major news, we see the trend of investments slowing down a bit while the process of consolidation in the industry continues unabated. We have seen many partnerships and mergers in Q1 and we continue to see that trend at the beginning of Q2 as well.
The biggest news however in April is the USD 420 million IPO of Ceridian (NYSE:CDAY) as it is a high profile IPO after a long time in this space. The share was offered at USD 22 a piece valuing the company at USD 3 billion. The stock has since risen by about 50% to close at USD34.10 thus showing great investor confidence in this space.
So, while Ceridian an HCM solution provider, went public in April, we also saw companies like Checkr, raise USD 100 million in Series C. This round puts the total capital raised by the company to USD 150 million and indicates at the investor confidence in this niche of background screening.
We believe that this confidence is based on the increase in gig workers over the past 5 years and the prediction that such gig workers are only likely to increase in all industries and geographies globally, thus making the background check process a critical must have a process in all recruitment efforts.
The big consolidation move came when Learning Technologies Group (LTG) announced acquiring PeopleFluent at a total consideration of USD 150 million. This is a coming together of 2 great companies in this space and indicates to the potential in the learning solutions offerings, especially for enterprise clients. With digital transformation likely to make companies reprioritize their skill development as predicted by Gartner, this space is likely to see increased action in coming years too.
Some other noteworthy developments are:
- The Asia Pacific region focused Payroll and HCM solution provider PayGroup is currently open for its IPO offering and is expected to raise USD 5.5 to 8.5 million, this puts the company market capitalization at USD 22 to 25 million. The offer is expected to close by the 10th of May and the listing is likely to happen by the end of May. This is good news for the Asia Pacific market as we believe this market is likely to see increased interest and activity in the HR technology space in the near future.
- When two highly experienced and celebrated experts in the field of artificial intelligence and search and ranking come together to create a solution for the problems of talent acquisition, you get Eightfold.ai. The company currently in stealth mode already has more than 100 customers and USD 24 million in funding with the latest Series B of USD 18 million. In the talent acquisition space, this is one of the most important developments and we are very curious to see how this one unfolds.
- The HR Tech space continues to witness activity across various subcategories and this month is no exception. We saw RocketTrip, a company focused on incentivizing employees for traveling under budget, raise USD 15 million in Series C. GamEffective, a solution built using gamification and real-time feedback to help improve engagement, productivity and learning in organizations, raised USD 11 million in series B.
- We always believed that boundaries between HR Tech and FinTech are likely to blur as solutions in both these spaces mature and look to provide a more comprehensive solution to their clients. We are happy to see that PayTickr has announced integration with Intuit Quickbooks; allowing employers manage employee time, payroll, invoicing and payments in a seamless manner. We believe more such integrations between pure-play payroll solutions and financial accounting solutions are on the cards globally.
As one can see from a sample of this news, we continue to see a wide variety of HR technology solutions emerging, consolidating, merging and even going public. This is a sign of an industry which is likely to continue to grow. We also expect the wellness niche within HR tech space to witness some big announcements in near future based on certain events reported earlier. Overall we continue to remain optimistic about the prospects for HR technology companies globally and hope to see continued investments, collaborations and acquisitions across different sub-categories in this space.