Gr8 People – Our Newest Investment
As software continues eating the world, it has certainly changed the recruiting department in a big way. We aren’t the only investors excited about investing in and supporting this space – more than $1 billion was poured into HR technology in 2017.
HR Tech: A Brief History
Modern HR technology started in the form of online job postings in the early 1990s, which allowed recruiters to more easily source candidates, and provide more options for candidates. This led to the need for an organizational system to track and process candidates. Enter the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). In the 2000’s, hundreds of ATS’ existed in the market and many of them moved to the cloud, allowing for greater scale, better and updated features, flexibility, and less maintenance.
Recruiting is Changing
With the lowest unemployment rate and highest number of job openings in the last decade according to the US Bureau of Labor), employers are increasingly focused on a strong candidate experience during the entire recruitment journey. More than two-thirds of employers surveyed in an SHRM survey experience difficulty filling job openings, driving enterprises to think about recruiting much like a strategic sales and marketing process.
Meeting Diane and Jayne
When we met Diane Smith and Jayne Kettles, we knew they were special. Diane and Jayne are both former athletes: Jayne played field hockey for Ohio State and Diane was a four-year All American field hockey player. Diane went on the coach women’s basketball at Princeton, where she was responsible for recruiting athletes every year. In 1998, they co-founded VirtualEdge, which provided a cloud-based ATS to large enterprises, competing with the likes of Taleo, iCIMS and PeopleSoft. In 2006, they sold VirtualEdge to ADP.
During this time, Diane and Jayne experienced the changing force in recruitment technology first hand, as the pressure grew for large enterprises to source and hire the best talent. Enterprises continued feeling the pressure in the early 2010’s when start-up roles became highly desired, impacting an already competitive job market.
In the past few years, the HR tech market has experienced a rush of new point solution entrants – everything from recruiting chatbots to skills assessments and candidate analytics. Many of these companies are building exciting new technology to solve a piece of the recruiting 3.0 puzzle, but we were hearing from talent acquisition leaders that many of the applicant data would get lost jumping from one system to another. They needed an all-in-one solution from recruitment to sourcing, and tracking and onboarding, for a better candidate experience.
Introducing gr8 People
Diane and Jayne recognized the need for a comprehensive solution, but knew few founding teams could undertake the challenges of building a true all-in-one platform with the scale and requirements of an enterprise customer. Enter: gr8 People, Diane and Jayne’s vision for providing an unfair advantage for enterprises to recruit the best talent. Think of gr8 People as a recruitment marketing platform, CRM, ATS, and onboarding software with features that help with pipeline automation, smart interview scheduling, candidate personalization, and reporting. Almost 100 enterprises, including Talbots, Netflix, NBC Universal, Teradata and Randstad, are paying customers.
Luke and I are happy to announce Ascent’s first deal of 2018: an $8 million Series B investment in gr8 People! We couldn’t be more excited to be active supporters and investment partners as they continue helping enterprises take their recruiting function to the next level. Diane and Jayne’s unique ability to foster a strong team culture singularly focused on the same mission (we suspect, perfected from their former coaching and team sport days) gives us confidence that they are the right leaders to transform the enterprise talent management world.