In the initial months of 2018, we saw the acquisition of strategic talent along with the acquisition of funding for growth. We see niche players growing while enterprise players are focusing on providing pre-integrated solutions.
The year 2018 has definitely started on a strong note for HR tech companies and we are eager to see how some of these trends unfold over the next few months.
One of the crucial patterns that we noticed emerging in the first quarter of 2018 is focused on principal talent within HR technology companies. One such announcement was when Simplilearn added Mike Tamir, who was working with Uber and is a known expert in AI and ML applications. While this talent decision attempted to strengthen the technological capabilities, another HR tech company 15Five went to strengthen its marketing capabilities by addition of Bill Macaitis to their advisory board. Bill worked with Slack, Zendesk, and Salesforce and is acutely aware of the SaaS environment and has led explosive growth in these companies.
The Q1-2018 has also seen its share of funding and acquisitions, and one of the biggest of these came from Reflektive raising USD 60 million in series C. As per news reports, this series C is to build out the “rest of the platform” which may include learning and compliance. The other big investment came in terms of USD 36.5 million raised by Dynamic Signal for its employee communication and engagement platform. Of the 6 investors participating in this round, Microsoft ventures, Cisco Investments and Time Warner investments are part of the deal. The employee engagement platform Peakon raised USD 22 million, which is likely to help them further their presence in the European markets in people analytics.
Some of the notable announcements in HR tech investments are:
- Jobcase, a company focusing on individuals without a formal college degree raised USD 11.5 million in its 2nd tranche of Series A funding. Designed as a platform to help job seekers get specific answers from other job seekers and also provide them with specific and relevant job profiles, this social network takes a unique approach to solve the employability problem for a particular type of job seeker. It claims to have more than 70 million registered users and has also recently partnered with Facebook to provide more job listings on Facebook pages.
- In what we see as a clear case of HR tech companies looking to invest in early-stage innovative HR tech start-ups, Workday announced the formation of USD 250 million venture fund to invest in such early and growth stage companies, specifically in AI, Machine learning, Blockchain, Augmented Reality and Virtual reality domains. This clearly emphasizes the future potential of these technologies for HR technology solutions.
- Wellbeing as a category continues to get its fair share of attention even in Q1, where Dialogue, a virtual health service provider raised USD 12 million in Series A. The platform has grown exponentially in recent past and looks to invest this latest round of funding for its growth and adding new services. Today, companies are hard pressed to help employees maintain the work-life balance while focusing on their wellness. In such a scenario, solutions like Dialogue are likely to benefit as they provide access to health care services.
- Employee expense management has been an area where HR Tech and FinTech come together. Spendesk, a platform solution that helps companies simplify and automate the whole process of allocating funds, ensuring that approvals are in place and reconciliations happen effectively, has raised USD 9.9 million. With more than 600 companies as clients and a combined spend of USD 49 million, this is one of the fastest growing companies in this space.
- The niche player, HackerRank, focused on helping technology companies evaluate developer talent has raised USD 30 million in series C. As per news reports the company plans to use these funds for increasing its enterprise clients while also expanding its developer community and data science capabilities. With technology becoming all-pervasive, the potential for HackerRank is tremendous, as every conceivable company irrespective of its industry domain is likely to hire developer talent.
- One of the innovative solution providers, which focuses on financial wellbeing as a way to drive retention and engagement, is DailyPay. This platform allows your employees to withdraw money they have earned but is not yet paid to meet unforeseen events. On actual payday, the platform simply deducts all such advances withdrawn and pays the balance payment, if any. The company raised USD 9 million in series B and is appearing to further grow in enterprise and midsized companies.
- In order to find out where your employees are and providing tools to them so that they can provide feedback, you can use Employee Wow, an anonymous employee feedback platform with the Snapchat plugin. The company recently raised USD 1 million to help them expand into the American market. With Snapchat users estimated to be at 77 million in the US alone, this tool can try to take the help of this instant messaging platform to provide companies a way to capture employee feedback.
- In November 2017, LinkedIn announced its investment of USD 300 million in Cornerstone on Demand (CSOD). In Q1, the companies announced that they would be collaborating on customer opportunities to provide CSOD customers a seamless experience of providing LinkedIn learning solutions. This emphasizes that enterprise HR tech companies are working together to provide “pre-integrated” solutions to their customers thus hoping to improve the customer stickiness and reducing the post-implementation integration challenges. The other big news from CSOD in Q1 was their partnership with Institute for the Future, to identify urgent skills people must master today to survive in the workplace of tomorrow.
The Q1-2018 can be summed up as a period when we saw the acquisition of strategic talent along with the acquisition of funding for growth. We see niche players growing while enterprise players are focusing on providing pre-integrated solutions. We see AI, ML, VR, and AR getting more interest and investments to ascertain their impact on future technology solutions. We also see the launch of new features by many HR tech companies, including Google Hire’s Gmail Plugin, Linkedin’s Scheduler feature and Limeade’s Inclusion+.
The year 2018 has definitely started on a strong note for HR tech companies, and we are eager to see how some of these trends unfold over the next few months.
(This is the first article from the two-part series of Global Significant HR tech development - Please watch this space for more)