Consolidated in the Cloud: Darwinbox Delivers End-to-End Talent Management on Demand

Although it’s been over 20 years since McKinsey officially christened the catchphrase “war for talent,” its implications are felt more today than ever before. Global business has become increasingly competitive and borderless, and both the importance and difficulty of attracting and retaining world-class talent has steadily grown. The Covid-induced Great Resignation has now provided the exclamation point needed for companies to wake up to this new reality. 

This massive structural shift has, in turn, escalated the importance of HR teams and shone a spotlight on the tools at their disposal to provide amazing employee experiences from hire-to-retire.

Darwinbox, headquartered in India, has been making waves in this space for many years and we are delighted to welcome them to the TCV family. The company aims to transform HR management and employee engagement via its unique end-to-end cloud-native HR suite. 

Darwinbox’s HCM platform offers both Core HR (the central system of record for employee data) as well as a broad, integrated HR suite spanning the entire employee lifecycle including recruitment, workforce management, employee engagement, performance & talent development, and integrated payroll.

Increasing employee engagement, optimizing performance and productivity, and leveraging technology and data are areas that TCV has been actively investing in. For example, TCV portfolio company Humu’s intelligent technology platform coaches managers and employees into developing work habits that are scientifically proven to drive performance. 

“Investing in technology to find, retain, and engage talent has become inevitable for organizational success,” says Jessica Neal, Venture Partner at TCV. “The pandemic has shown us clearly that we need to support and empower our employees differently, and Darwinbox is on a mission to enable that. I’ve been impressed with their offerings which provide HR leaders with a solution to address the entire employee lifecycle.” 

Challenging the Old Guard

Let’s put Darwinbox’s achievements in context. The mid-market and enterprise HCM landscape in Asia has been dominated by antiquated solutions such as SAP SuccessFactors, Oracle, and, to a lesser extent, Workday for many years. In our view, these platforms were designed decades ago and, owing to their on-prem legacies, have largely failed to innovate. We think they provide rather poor experience for employees and HR teams alike, lack flexibility, have painful & lengthy implementation processes, and are often expensive. 

In contrast, Darwinbox offers a cloud-native, mobile-first offering, architected to be easy to configure and implement even for large and complex organizations. Darwinbox also has deep understanding of the local cultural context ‒ their mobile-optimized offering (optimized to work across a broader range of device and network types) is a prime example of this given the low level of desktop access for employees across industries in some of the emerging markets.

This differentiated approach has enabled Darwinbox to quickly win share in some emerging markets, with 150+ customers already having switched to Darwinbox from SAP, Oracle, or Workday. As a result, it is among the fastest-growing cloud HCM platforms in Asia today, and on track to be the #1 cloud player by scale in Asia within the next two years. 

Darwinbox’s success is receiving global recognition and the company recently secured a prized spot on Gartner’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud HCM Suites (the only vendor of Asian origin to do so). It is also the highest-rated HCM platform globally on Gartner Peer Insights (4.8/5 stars).

Putting the Employee First

A key driver of Darwinbox’s success is its design philosophy that puts the employee experience at the heart of every decision the firm makes. The platform replicates the frictionless and highly-optimized user experiences in the workplace that we have become accustomed to in our daily lives, while at the same time preserving enterprise goals on talent management and needs on scalability and security. 

Reflecting this, one of Darwinbox’s north star metrics is user engagement, citing DAU/MAU of 50+% reflecting the value it is providing to its customers (and driving stickiness once the platform has been rolled out across the employee base).

Built from Asia, for the World

Darwinbox, which employs over 500 people today, was co-founded in 2015 by Jayant Paleti, Rohit Chennamaneni, and Chaitanya Peddi who bring deep expertise and collective decades of experience working with HR and digitalization processes from their time working at McKinsey and Ernst & Young. 

While built out of India, the team has taken a very deliberate approach to scaling (e.g. building fully flexible architecture that can be quickly tailored to match local HR workflows) and has always had global ambitions. After several years of operating in India, Darwinbox made its first foray into international expansion in 2019, and began building up its presence in Southeast Asia, a region which exhibited many of the same pain points experienced by customers in India. Since then, Darwinbox has begun expanding into the Middle East and intends to continue expanding its footprint globally, growing an already impressive customer base (1.5M+ users across 650+ companies in over 90 countries).

We, at TCV, are thrilled to be partnering with the entire Darwinbox team on this journey. And, as usual, we’re in it for the long haul.

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


HR technology platform Darwinbox raises US $72 Million round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) at $1 billion+ valuation

SINGAPORE and HYDERABAD, India, Jan. 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Darwinbox, Asia’s fastest growing HR tech platform, marks another milestone with a $72MN funding round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) along with participation from existing investors Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia India, Lightspeed India, Endiya Partners, 3One4Capital, JGDEV and SCB 10X. The company’s valuation post this round will cross the $1B mark and takes the total investment raised thus far by the company to over $110Mn. The company has grown 200% since the last fund raise from Salesforces Ventures, exactly 12 months ago.

Founded in late 2015 by Chaitanya Peddi, Jayant Paleti and Rohit Chennamaneni, Darwinbox currently stands as the youngest and the only Asian-origin player on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for enterprise Cloud HCM. It is also rated the highest (4.8) globally on Gartner’s customer reviews platform, Peer Insights, racing ahead of its peers like SAP, Oracle, and Workday – a position they secured on the back of innovative technology, deep understanding of market context, intuitive user experience and great customer traction.

“We get most excited investing behind visionary founders that are fundamentally transforming large industries with a highly resonant product,” said Gopi Vaddi, General Partner, TCV. “I am delighted to back an outstanding team that is doing exactly that in a highly impactful, fast-evolving HR technology space and partner with them on their journey to global HCM leadership.” With a quarter century of investing experience, TCV is known for taking a long-term view on its investments and holds a record of 79 IPOs in their portfolio including the likes of Netflix, Facebook, Expedia, Spotify, Airbnb, GoDaddy and Gitlab.

“This investment energizes our mission to continue building technology that enables organizations to unlock the highest potential of their people. We have done this by building a product that puts employees squarely at the center and crafting meaningful experiences for them. This has especially found resonance in this rapidly evolving world of work over the last 2 years with companies having to rethink how they attract, manage and retain their talent,” shared Jayant Paleti, Co-founder, Darwinbox.

The new funding will supercharge Darwinbox’s global expansion plan by allowing the company to accelerate its platform innovation agenda, strengthen its product, engineering, and customer success teams along with scaling its go-to-market presence in South Asia, SEA, and MENA. The company is expecting the overall team to grow by 100% and is also setting up to launch in the US in 2022.

“Investing behind technology to manage talent has become inevitable for organizational success. Darwinbox’s demonstrated ability to build agile, innovative, and user-friendly solutions along with deep customer centricity has made them a platform of choice for several leading enterprises,” added Jessica Neal, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, and a Venture Partner at TCV.

2021 represented one of the most entropic and pivotal years in defining the future of work. The world witnessed “remote” and “hybrid” become common words and the “Great Resignation” impacted organizations all over, forcing them to rethink their talent strategy. The result is a 3-5 year forward shift in digital-first thinking for all things talent.

Darwinbox is at the heart and center of this movement, enabling more than 650 large enterprises to empower and engage their talent with its mobile-first HR lifecycle platform providing Workforce & Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Compensation and Benefits, People Analytics, HR service delivery suites amongst other offerings. More than 1.5 million employees from large conglomerates, fast-growing technology giants and leading global brands like Nivea, Starbucks, Dominos, T-Systems, AXA, Tokio, Cigna, JSW, Adani, Vedanta, Mahindra, Kotak, NSE, Ujjivan, Makemytrip, Swiggy and Tokopedia were able to adapt to the new normal with Darwinbox.

Expanding on the product investments, Chaitanya Peddi, Co-founder and Product Head of the company shares: “Building for extraordinary agility and delivering stellar employee experience have been critical in defining success for Darwinbox’s customers. We will continue to invest in new and innovative technology to deliver a frictionless experience for the work-from-anywhere workforce.”

“In addition, this year, we will be bolstering our platform offering with a host of ancillary services and solutions that enterprises can plug and play to compose an integrated HR tech ecosystem,” he added.

About Darwinbox

Darwinbox is a cloud-based HR Technology platform which caters to an organization’s HR needs across the entire employee lifecycle including Recruitment, Onboarding, Core Transactions (Leaves, Attendance, Directory), Payroll, Travel and Expenses, Employee Engagement, Performance Management, Rewards & Recognition and People Analytics. The innovative platform combines highly configurable workflows, intelligent insights and smart interfaces to help enterprises unleash the true potential of their workforce.

Rated the highest globally among HCM players on Gartner’s customer review platform, Peer Insights, Darwinbox is trusted by 650+ global enterprises with more than 1.5 million employees spread across 90+ countries and is backed by leading investors including Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed India, TCV, SCB 10X, JGDev, Endiya Partners and 3One4Capital.

More at www.darwinbox.com

Media Contact: Gowthami Kanumuru, Darwinbox | Gowthami.k@darwinbox.in | +91 7702436644

About TCV

Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing public and private businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $16 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 145 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including Airbnb, Believe, Brex, Dream Sports, FarEye, HireVue, Mollie, Nubank, Razorpay, Netflix, Nerdy, RELEX Solutions, Revolut, RMS, Sportradar, Spotify, Trade Republic, The Pracuj Group, and Zepz. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late-stage and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.

Media Contact: Katja Gagen, TCV| kgagen@tcv.com | +1 415 690 6689


Product, People, and Employee Engagement: How Zillow’s Path to Growth Eschewed the Traditional Marketing Playbook

Growth Hacks – Moving the Metric

Nowadays, growth minded leaders know that a strong corporate culture and engaged employees are a central part of any company’s growth playbook. Yet when Zillow first launched, placing people on the same level as product innovation was an audacious move. Still, Zillow took the time to invest in improving its employee engagement, knowing that engaged employees were the bedrock for a company’s long-term success.

On this episode of Growth Hacks, Kunal and Katja talk to TCV Venture Partner and former CMO, COO, and current Zillow board member, Amy Bohutinsky. We discuss Amy’s perspective on C-suite leadership and bucking the traditional marketing and operational playbooks in order to drive growth and create better company cohesion. As board member of various technology companies, Amy also walks us through what boards are discussing now more than ever.

Key Takeaways

  • Why Zillow focused on product over marketing to drive early growth. When Zillow launched in 2004, they’d seen many of their startup peers spend lots of money on brand marketing without a proven revenue model. Rather than tread the same path, Amy says the Zillow team “saw an opportunity to build a company in a really different way, which was to focus deeply on product. Product was absolutely the best marketing we could have.” By adopting a no budget marketing budget, the team was further incentivized to create products, like Zillow’s Zestimate, that customers would truly love using.
  • Strategies for successfully merging companies post-acquisition. As Zillow has grown, it’s acquired companies of all sizes, including its $2.5 billion acquisition of fellow real estate juggernaut Trulia. To navigate a smoother post-acquisition merger after she became COO, Amy took a page from her former CMO playbook when considering how to best scale Zillow’s employee base while retaining what was special about its culture. During the Trulia acquisition, the companies combined their individual sets of values to create a new shared set of driving core values. “That gave a nod to what was great about both, but also showed that we were bridging two companies together and two different cultures together and creating something new,” says Amy.
  • How shared values in a shared language build connective tissue between disparate teams. One of Amy’s goals during her time as Zillow’s COO was to drive better cohesion between sales, marketing, and product. Though each team had its own values in addition to Zillow’s shared corporate values, everyone across the company bought into what Zillow called its “product personas” — mental sketches of the people they built for. “They had names, they had photos, they had a whole life…And these are individual personas that everyone across every department at the company understands deeply,” says Amy.
  • The most important metrics all C-suite leaders should be paying attention to. When Amy shifted her role from CMO to COO, she viewed Zillow employees the same way she did end consumers; what did they have to say, what were their concerns, and what could Zillow do to make sure they retained the workforce that made them successful. Even now, Amy says all C-suite leaders should be paying attention to a key metric: employee engagement. “If you get that right, it’s a whole lot easier to meet all of the business-related metrics you need.”
  • What corporate boards are most concerned with currently. In addition to the board of Zillow, Amy sits on the boards of Modsy and Duolingo, and has sat on the boards of companies including Gap and HotelTonight. She says that in the last seven to ten years, the conversation on boards has shifted away from growth at all costs to an emphasis on people and how to keep and retain a healthy workforce.

To learn more, tune into Growth Hacks: Treating Employees Like End Consumers: How Zillow Scaled Successfully While Reinventing the Traditional Growth Playbook

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This interview and blog post are not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.