from the #Valley

Will the hot summer result in a stormy autumn for HR & HR Tech

date: 04 / 10 / 2018 | written by Hans Mangelschots, Ben Greeven | comments: 0
The summer holidays are over and looking back, not only the climate was unusually hot. There was a lot more heat on the HR & HR Tech Market than one expects during Summer, especially after an already very lively Spring. In this blog we look back at investments and acquisitions, giving you an idea of the HR Tech-heatmap in 2018.


Spring came early

In 2018 Spring came early when in February Adecco group acquired recruiting startup Vettery (Switzerland) for 100M$. Shortly after that same Adecco group raised the temperature when they acquired digital retraining firm General Assembly, which is based in New York (USA), for $412.5 million in April.

Spending over 0.5 billion on HR Tech within a month attracted a lot of attention - next to it the many smaller seed rounds and acquisitions of numerous other in HR Tech were pushed to the background. At that time nobody even had a clue of the the Glassdoor deal that was in the making...

Of course there was the rumour that started to spread - around the time of the Adecco acquisitions - that Glassdoor was talking to banks about a potential IPO in autumn. In May Investment Holding Recruit - which already invested in HR and HR Tech via USG People and Indeed - all of a sudden announced it acquired Glassdoor for $1.2 Billion.

It was the big bang before the summer, a period which in general tends to be a lot quieter with everybody in holiday modus and preparing for the numerous big HR (Tech) events in autumn. But this year the activity on the HR Tech Market surprisingly continued, creating a hot summer.

Summer overview

In June, just before the holiday period, Workday acquired financial modelling startup Adaptive Insights for $1.55 Billion, barely a week after it acquired Rallyteam  making it a nice threesome to boost Workday’s analytics power when combined with the SkipFlag acquisition of in january. The amounts involved in these last two deals hasn’t been disclosed.

In July Workday did not go on a vacation and continued it’s path to support their analytic ambitions by acquiring Czech startup Stories.bi for again an undisclosed amount. This startup has build an augmented analytics tool that uses AI to check and analyze company databases. This way it can identify trends, data that threatens to fall out of reach or identify variations on the plan and then indicate what it has learned in a conversational interface.

Ultimate Software followed Workday’s lead and also used Summer for acquisitions. It spend $ 300 million in cash and shares on the French scale-up PeopleDoc . The two main reasons for this acquisition are scaling to in international (European) market and expanding the services Ultimate Software provides.

  • PeopleDoc is a tool that automates and streamlines all HR-related documentation paperwork, help and various employment contracts that companies around the world have to manage.

In August Impact Pool (formerly known as UNjobfinder), a work platform from Sweden, secured $ 820k in funding.

  • Impact Pool, for people who want to pursue a career within mission-driven organizations, collects vacancies from hundreds of international organizations around the world for all UN organizations, international financial institutions, the European Union and the most influential intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The platform offers qualified and motivated people all over the world career opportunities that enables them to grow professional organizations with the best source to reach top candidates.

Also in August, US based ThinkHR collected $ 67.5 million in a financing round led by Guidepost Growth Equity. This brings the increased finance to a total of  $ 82.5 million. (Source Crunchbase).

  • ThinkHR already serves more than 125,000 employers and 850 business partners, including a majority of the largest insurance brokers. Other sectors are payroll providers, HR technology providers and finally associations such as NCHRA and PIHRA.

Autumn prediction

Looking forward, it makes you wonder if HR Tech is up for a stormy autumn. After all, this has always been a period with a lot of activity. Last year it was also the period that non-HR players put their cards on the table and moved in on HR Tech - think LinkedIn’s launch cascade of features clearly driven by Microsoft’s vision, Google’s and Facebook’s pilots of HR Tech solutions in the US which Facebook launched in over 40 countries worldwide early this year.

All of this investment activity, the entrance of non-HR players and the continuous boom of HR Tech startups across the globe are a clear sign that HR Tech is growing mature.

With several small and large HR Tech events in both the US and Europe (for example HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas, Zukunft Personal in Cologne, Unleash in Amsterdam, etc.), all HR Tech providers will traditionally show their best side at the end of the summer, as these events are the ideal places to court investors.

At the end of 2017 this “mating dance” resulted in several acquisitions, i.e.;

  • Bullhorn acquired Peoplenet for $ 125 million
  • Insight Venture Partners acquired Bullhorn for more than $ 600 million
  • Intuite acquired Tsheets for $340 million
  • Cornerstone raised $294 million (from amongst others; LinkedIn)
  • JazzHR raised $6.6 million

Note that this is only a small view on what is moving in the HR Tech world, but we have no indications that this autumn will be inferior to last year’s. Quite the contrary: this autumn could be pretty stormy and promises a lot of activity.. So stay tuned and subscribe!

*Hot off the press* 

While we were writing this article the clouds were already packing together, thunder was heared and lightning already stroke several times!  

  • Linked In stepped into business intelligence as it launched Talent Insights
  • IBM Watson Talent partnered up with Workday 
  • Ziprecruiter raised $ 156M in funding
  • Saba Software acquires Lumesse for an undisclosed amount


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