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Tiger doubles down on SeekOut, which just raised $115M to help enterprises hire and retain talent

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SeekOut, which aims to help enterprises hire from a more diverse talent pool, announced it has raised $115 million in a Series C round of funding led by Tiger Global Management.

The financing values the Seattle-based startup at over $1.2 billion and brings its total raised to $189 million since its 2017 inception. It follows a year of 300% growth in revenue, bringing its annual recurring revenue (ARR) to the $25 million to $50 million range. For some context, SeekOut was valued at $500 million when it raised a $65 million Series B in March of 2021 — also led by Tiger Global.

A group of former Microsoft executives and engineers —  Anoop Gupta, Aravind Bala, John Tippett and Vikas Manocha — came up with the foundation of what would eventually become SeekOut in 2016 when they began building a messaging platform that provided a deep level of information about people that others might be emailing. When the quartet realized that what customers really were after was the information they were uncovering, and not so much the messaging capability, the company pivoted in 2017.

Today, SeekOut’s goal is to help talent acquisition teams recruit “hard-to-find and diverse talent.” It’s a problem faced by many companies, and increased demand for its offering is evidenced by the fact that over the last 11 months, SeekOut has grown its customer base from 500 to more than 1,000.

“We’ve seen very high retention and huge growth with existing customers,” said Gupta, the company’s co-founder and CEO. He declined to name names, but said that SeekOut is working with six of the 10 “most highly valued companies” by market cap in the U.S. Its customers hail from a range of industries, from technology to pharmaceutical to aerospace and defense to banking. 

In the last two years, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the world of work and how companies are engaging with employees,” Gupta told TechCrunch. “There is a lot at stake and how companies hire, retain, grow and develop their people will make a difference between companies surviving or thriving, or dying.”

Over the years, SeekOut has built out a database with hundreds of millions of profiles using its AI-powered talent search engine and “deep interactive analytics.” It finds talent by scouring public data and using natural-language and machine-learning technologies to understand the expertise of each candidate to build a complete 360-degree view of each potential employee. Specifically, it blends info from public profiles, GitHub, papers and patents, employee referrals, company alumni and candidates in ATS systems.

While SeekOut initially focused strictly on technical talent, it has since broadened its base to helping recruiters and sources find more diverse candidates in general, as well as people with simply “hard-to-find” skill sets. And it claims to do it with “unprecedented speed and precision” via a blind hiring method designed to reduce bias by doing things like giving companies or individuals the ability to filter out things like an applicant’s name, photo or school attended. SeekOut then gives recruiters a way to engage with candidates instantly by getting access to the right contact information in a “single click.”

Gupta said SeekOut’s platform (dubbed Talent-360) helps companies not only find diverse talent, but helps them improve retention by finding the “right” candidate to begin with.

“Today, enterprises are essentially flying blind when it comes to building and maintaining their workforces. The balance of power is shifting to the employees and the employees care about purpose, flexibility, compensation and their growth,” Gupta said. “And when not done right, it leads to employees walking with their feet and so the great resignation, the great reshuffle is becoming a big challenge.”

But it’s also a huge opportunity, the executive believes. And so perhaps it’s not a surprise that SeekOut is emphasizing efforts to help companies not just hire quality talent, but also retain it as part of a new talent optimization offering.

It was a logical move for the company, which has demonstrated strength in talent acquisition.

Image Credits: SeekOut

“How companies can develop their internal talent and what they can do, or how they broaden the aperture of hiring, becomes more important with remote and hybrid work and diversity becoming critical to hiring great talent,” Gupta said. “These are all becoming basically very fundamental things that enterprises need to do. To get ahead, given these seismic shifts in technology and innovation, companies can go from being leaders to laggards in a short time.” 

Over the past year, SeekOut has seen its headcount tripled to about 120 and will likely triple again in 2022, according to Gupta. It is close to break-even in terms of cash flow, but Gupta says that the company’s “revenue growth has been so rapid” that it is supporting its investment growth.

Its latest financing also included participation from Founders Circle Capital, and other existing backers including Madrona Venture Group and Mayfield. 

Founders Circle’s participation in particular was notable in that it led to SeekOut being able to support a secondary for its employees. Since Founders Circle was willing to buy common shares from employees, some were able to sell a small portion of their vested shares.

“I’m really delighted that our employees are able to realize some of the benefits of their hard work and the success they have created for SeekOut,” Gupta said. “This is something we intentionally sought out to give to our employees.”

For his part, Tiger Global Partner John Curtius acknowledges that there is a clear shift in the way companies are thinking about hiring and retaining talent.

“SeekOut is at the forefront of this change, delivering a best-in-class solution for talent optimization that enables businesses to hire, grow and retain their workforce like never before,” he said in a written statement. “We are excited to partner with them as they continue to reshape the industry and provide companies with data, insights, and actions that drive results.”

Meanwhile, Gupta believes that talent recruitment and retention is no longer the problem of an HR department.

“The right talent is key to success and that’s why this is becoming a CEO and board of directors Top of Mind issue rather than just something for HR leaders to worry about,” he said. “Data is everywhere in the enterprise, except where you need it most, which is informing the decisions about people you need and the people you have.”

In fact, SeekOut’s data-focused strategy was a big factor in attracting S. Somasegar, Managing Director at Madrona.

“Their deep technology approach of building the most comprehensive profile of people and a semantic search engine to enable hiring managers and recruiters to be able to clearly define what they are looking for in talent, and being able to generate the right pool of candidates to look from is both unique and highly effective in talent sourcing,” he wrote via email. 

Source: Tech

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Crypto.com expands venture arm to $500 million to back early-stage web3 startups

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Crypto.com, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, has extended its venture arm’s fund size to $500 million as it looks to more aggressively back early-stage startups to help the nascent ecosystem grow, following similar moves by rivals Binance, Coinbase and FTX.

The broadening of Crypto.com Capital comes less than a year after the Singapore-headquartered firm unveiled its maiden fund of $200 million. The fund, unlike those of many of its rivals, has no LPs (meaning, it’s fully financed by the firm’s balance sheet.)

The maiden fund, whose individual checks run up to $10 million in size, has been so far deployed to back about 20 startups including YGG SEA, multi-chain crypto portfolio tracker DeBank, cross-chain token infrastructure Efinity and Ethereum scaling solution Matter Labs.

Crypto.com will continue to focus on backing early-stage startups, said Jon Russell, who joined the firm as a general partner this month, in an interview with TechCrunch.

With the fund, Crypto.com is broadly focusing on gaming, decentralized-finance and startups innovating on cross-chain solutions. But he cautioned that the industry could change and expand, as it has in recent years, to areas “we don’t know about,” hence the firm is keeping an eye out on everything.

Tuesday’s announcement also further illustrates the growing involvement of cryptocurrency exchanges in being the rainmaker – and beneficiary – of the ecosystem which encompasses the industry in which they operate.

FTX, which has backed over 15 startups, last week announced a $2 billion crypto fund. Its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, also owns Alameda Research, a venture firm that has backed close to 100 web3 startups.

Coinbase Ventures, the investment arm of the only crypto exchange that is publicly traded, and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, are also among the most prolific investors in the web3 space.

Venture investment in crypto / web3 in 2021 by category (Image credits: Galaxy Digital)

The funding activity in the space, even as most of the aforementioned names often co-invest in startups, is at an all-time high. VCs invested more than $33 billion in crypto/web3 startups in 2021, more than all prior years combined, Galaxy Digital, another prolific investor in the space, wrote in a recent report.

“Valuations in the crypto/blockchain space were 141% higher than the rest of the venture capital space in Q4, highlighting a founder-friendly environment and the intense competition among investors for deal allocations,” the report added.

Scores of venture capital firms have also raised new funds for their crypto investments. Just last year, Andreessen Horowitz added a $2.2 billion crypto fund, Paradigm unveiled a $2.5 billion fund, and Hivemind Capital Partners announced a $1.5 billion fund. Katie Haun, who co-led a16z’s $2.2 billion crypto fund, has left the firm to launch her own crypto-focused fund.

Russell – a former journalist who previously had stints at TechCrunch, The Next Web, and The Ken – said Crypto.com is backing startups to help the ecosystem grow.

“If you’re in the industry, it’s in your interest to help companies grow in the ecosystem and the ecosystem itself to grow,” he said. (Worth pointing out that Solana, Avalanche, Polkadot — as well as some of their major investors — are also aggressively backing startups that are building applications for the native blockchains.)

The startups Crypto.com backs are under no obligation to list their tokens on Crypto.com over any of its rivals or offer the exchange any other preferential treatment, he said. The exchange team similarly doesn’t have a soft spot for the investment arm’s portfolio firms, he added.

(What’s up with the career move? “I’ve been crypto curious for a number of years but I wasn’t gasping to dive in full-time. This project appeals to me because Crypto.com is ambitious but yet it does things the right way. There’s certainly a lot of hype and hot air in crypto and web3 right now, but it’s impossible to ignore the talent that’s pouring into the industry,” he said.)

Crypto.com, which started its life as a blog of professor Matt Blaze (who sold the domain to the crypto exchange), has aggressively expanded in the past year as it looks to court more users. The Singapore-headquartered firm last year agreed to pay more than $700 million for the naming rights of the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The downtown Los Angeles complex has been rebranded as Crypto.com Arena for the next 20 years.

The firm, which bills itself as the “fastest-growing” crypto exchange, said at the time of the announcement that the move is positioned to make cryptocurrencies mainstream. Crypto.com, which processes trade volumes of over $2.5 billion every day, also teamed up with Hollywood star Matt Damon last year to promote the brand and cryptocurrencies.

The Damon-starring ad equated buying crypto tokens and NFTs to one of the greatest and boldest accomplishments in the history of humankind. Hyperbole, to be sure, but having the most mainstream American actor as Crypto.com’s celebrity sponsor has certainly helped bring the trading platform, and all that it sells, into the mainstream. The ad went viral and also attracted criticism for being cringeworthy.

Source: Tech

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Focused on smaller cities, Vietnamese social commerce startup Mio raises $8M Series A

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Mio, the Vietnamese social commerce platform, has raised an $8 million Series A, less than a year after announcing its seed round. The funding was led by Jungle Ventures, Patamar Capital and Oliver Jung, with participation from returning investors GGV, Venturra, Hustle Fund, iSEED SEA and Gokul Rajaram.

TechCrunch first covered Mio at the time of its $1 million seed funding in May 2021. Founded in 2020, Mio is a group buying platform that focuses on selling fresh produce and groceries in Tier 2 and 3 cities in Vietnam. The company is able to offer next day delivery because it built a logistics infrastructure that enables it to send produce directly from farms to customers.

The Series A brings Mio’s total raised to $9.1 million, and will be used to expand its logistics and fulfillment system, enter new areas in Vietnam and add new product categories like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and household appliances.

Mio co-founder and chief executive officer Trung Huynh said that since TechCrunch first covered Mio seven months ago, it has achieved 10x gross merchandise value growth, a 10x increase in agents, or resellers, and grew its team from 60 people to 240. It now fulfills more than 10,000 pieces of fresh produce per day, operating in Ho Chi Minh, Thu Duc, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An, with plans to expand into northern Vietnam.

The numbers “strengthened our conviction in this model and its potential,” he said. “We need fresh capital to accelerate hiring, product development and supply chain to keep up with the pace of growth as we deepen our presence in existing geographies and expand to new provinces.”

Mio is able to offer next day deliveries because its vertically integrated mayor layers of the value chain, including procurement, warehousing, order sorting and bulk delivery. The startup owns the majority of its logistics infrastructure and uses its own fleet of couriers. Its ability to delivery fresh produce directly from farms to customers in less than 16 hours contributed to higher customer retention and growth, Huynh said, and it will continue to shorten delivery times. .

Mio resellers are called Mio Partners. Huynh said one of the driving factors behind Mio is targeting the right people for the program, or “housewives and stay-home-moms in lower income regions who love sharing value-for-money products to their social circle of friends.”

They aggregate orders, usually from friends and family, and orders are delivered to them in batches for distribution. The startup claims Mio Partners can make up to $400 a month, including a 10% commission on each order and additional commissions based on the monthly performance of other resellers they referred to the program.

“There is a strong possibility” that Mio will expand beyond Vietnam, Huynh said, “but will only be considered at a more appropriate time after we successfully built our playbook for Vietnam.”

Source: Tech

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South Korean HR automation platform flex raises $32M Series B at a $287M valuation

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South Korea-based human resources management platform flex announced today it has closed a $32 million Series B round at a valuation of $298 million. The latest funding, which brings its total raised to $42 million, was led by Greenoaks, with participation from DST Global Partners.  

The startup’s mission is to enable corporations to automate and streamline manual human resources work processes and focus more on people. Its automation tools optimize the employee experience to ensure seamless data flow across groups for use in payroll, e-signature support, on/offboarding and people analytics. It also plans to launch performance review and talents relation management tools in the first quarter of 2022. 

“At flex we define HR as Human Relations, not Human Resources. We believe HR teams deserve world-class software to manage and service their employees, but today it’s clear that many organizations still use spreadsheets or legacy products to make ends meet, said Haenam Chang, CEO of flex.

The two-year-old startup will use the proceeds to scale operations to meet demand, advance its HR automation and SaaS products and increase its headcount.

The Series B funding comes on the back of growth in revenue of almost ten times, compared to last year, driven by a number of product launches and new customers. The startup has primarily been serving SMBs in the IT sector. However, flex plans to expand the addressable market by targeting new industries in the SMB space this year. It did not disclose any user or customer numbers when asked. 

Currently, flex is focused on growing in South Korea by offering a SaaS solution that modernizes the HR functions and processes, which have been slow to adapt to technical progress over the past 20 years. The company said its deep understanding of cultural nuances in people management and the HR regulations in the country help flex to be well-positioned to offer a set of products tailored to South Korean businesses.  

“While some companies have adopted solutions to track and improve how they manage their employees, most still rely on gut instinct or insufficient data to make ad-hoc decisions on employees. At flex, we empower customers with a reliable source of employee data and a rich set of tools to manage their people, maximizing individual and organizational performance. Our goal isn’t just to provide a great HR software solution – it’s to empower companies to better track and manage their most important assets, their people,” Chang said. 

“Korea is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic economies but has historically lacked a native solution for companies to manage and pay their employees – leaving businesses frustrated and left to develop their own homegrown solutions,” said Josh Cho, principal of Greenoaks. “Now, flex is rapidly building the country’s first next-generation human resources information system and payroll platform. We are excited about their vision for an end-to-end product that will let companies handle all their HR functions in a single place, from performance management to recruiting to payroll and more.” 

Source: Tech

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