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/.


Making Work Better: Humu Applies Behavioral Science and AI to Optimize Employee and Enterprise Performance

As the world shifts towards a knowledge economy, enterprises need to re-imagine how they do business. They are realizing that their employees are their most important asset and are searching for a smarter way to engage, encourage, and drive the best performance. Enter Humu, a platform working at the intersection of behavioral science and AI to solve that very issue.

Humu, a recent addition to the TCV portfolio, is rapidly gaining adoption from some of the world’s largest and most complex organizations. Its intelligent technology platform coaches managers and employees into developing work habits that are scientifically proven to drive performance. Humu was co-founded by CEO Laszlo Bock, former Google SVP of People Operations, and is the output of decades of his work and experience in helping make HR a more data-driven function. Laszlo is uniquely positioned to build the Humu technology platform into a must-have for organizations looking to drive employee engagement, optimize performance, and improve productivity.

Specifically, by nudging employees with short, behavioral science-backed recommendations, Humu provides personalized guidance that’s unique to each employee, helping workers to build better habits, while also driving towards organizational goals, including employee retention, manager effectiveness, productivity, and inclusive cultures.

TCV is thrilled to lead Humu’s $60 million Series C. The investment, which follows two years of significant growth for the Company, will fuel new product innovations geared to support managers and their teams. TCV venture partner Jessica Neal, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, has joined Humu’s Board of Directors as part of our new partnership.

TCV’s experience in seeing the magic in the Right Content, Right Person, Right Time

TCV has long understood the value of delivering engaging, timely content to the right person at the right time and has invested based on this thesis for over two decades, including in companies like Netflix (video), Spotify (music), Peloton (fitness), and Newsela (K-12 instructional content).

TCV believes that timely content curation and delivery should extend from our consumer lives to our work lives: if Netflix can feed us more of what we need to keep us entertained, why wouldn’t we benefit from similar capabilities in the workplace? Businesses need a system that serves us the right content at the right time to help us perform better.

What is exciting about Humu? Humu is driving real outcomes

Humu’s AI-based Nudge Engine™ technology drives timely “nudges” to encourage employees to do more of what creates optimal outcomes and experiences for employees and enterprises. Nudges are delivered in curated pathways that are algorithmically generated, sequenced, and tailored to a particular initiative and employee.

At a glance:

  • Every Humu nudge is based on academic research and carefully crafted by Humu “people analytics” experts
  • User experience panels ensure nudges are easy to understand and act on. Feedback loops make it possible to turn off what’s not working, and send more of what is
  • Employees turn to nudges more and more over time. Sustained nudge engagement rates across customers are as high as 95%

At Silicon Valley Bank, Humu’s nudges focus managers and employees on what matters most – and remind them at just the right moments to adjust their habits. That could be in supporting managers who may be too focused on execution at the cost of supporting employee development and encouraging them to find ways to offer their people personalized growth opportunities. Don’t take our word for it…hear it directly from Humu’s customer SVB:

“People don’t have to wait for management to roll out a time-intensive program. Humu provides our employees with relevant, customized feedback that’s not generic or mundane. Nudges democratize the employee engagement process; they make learning much timelier and easier for everyone involved. We have a 70% open rate, which means it’s going really well. The right nudge at the right time really makes all the difference.”

Chris Edmonds-Waters, Chief Human Resources Officer at Silicon Valley Bank

A team that helped build a trillion-dollar business, and is now on a mission to solve work for everyone

Humu’s CEO Laszlo Bock helped build and lead Google’s people function for ten years, a role in which he was responsible for attracting, developing, retaining, and delighting ‘Googlers’ (he distilled a lot of his practices and insights into his book published in 2015, Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead).

He co-founded Humu in 2017 with former Google colleagues Wayne Crosby (former Director of Engineering) and Dr. Jessie Wisdom (former People Analytics Manager). Together, this formidable team founded Humu “to make work better through machine learning, science, and a little bit of love” – not to mention everything they had learned about smart use of data.

“When we began this journey in 2017, we knew our experience in pioneering the field of people analytics would help us build what we believe is the best technology for supporting managers and employees, and we’re proud of the impact we’ve made.

This latest investment, led by TCV, signals our partners’ confidence in our ability to deliver on that promise long into the future, and we’re excited for what we’ll bring to the market, especially for managers, in the months to come.”

Laszlo Bock, CEO of Humu

TCV is excited to be a partner in building a category leader

TCV believes Humu represents an opportunity to back an emerging leader in the HR technology sector, led by a world-class team that’s uniquely positioned to penetrate a massive market with compelling industry growth tailwinds. With this latest round of funding, Humu aims to take steps towards executing its bold vision of facilitating building a unique, high-performing culture for its client organizations based on proven best practices. As a firm that focuses on long-term value creation, TCV believes that Humu, with its deep background in people analytics, has the potential to make a positive impact on the way we all work.

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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 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


The “White Hot” HR Tech Market, Why Focus Should be the Focus, and the Big Themes in Human Capital Tech Going Forward

In conversation with Josh Bersin

There’s a lot of money floating around the HR tech start-up scene currently, as you will hear if you tune into a recent podcast I joined—the Joshbersin.com podcast from internationally-recognized analyst, educator, and thought leader in the global talent market, Josh Bersin.

The valuation environment and the size of investments in the category has heated up considerably. The workplace is arguably one of the biggest tech markets of them all—we’re talking about two billion people who go to work every day and who need to be engaged, assessed, challenged, nurtured, and developed. That means the potential for systems to support them and the people leaders in the organization, and to help automate processes, as well as glean insights from data.

TCV has a strong track record in the space, having invested in HR tech leaders like LinkedIn, HireVue, and Perceptyx, as well as The Pracuj Group, the largest job board in Poland. Over the last two years with the pandemic and several other sociological flashpoint events occurring, there’s been a lot for employers, employees, and chief people officers/CHROs to handle. Simultaneously, there have been substantial advances in relevant technology and software. I was looking forward to sharing our perspectives on the booming and continuously evolving HR technology sector, and the role and direction of current investment in it.

Key Takeaways

There’s a lot of money and a lot of enthusiasm. There is about $2 trillion of dry powder in private equity and venture and crossover fund coffers out there, so a lot of risk capital is looking for a home. Investment activity in the HR tech sector has exploded, particularly over the last few years, and we don’t see the round sizes shrinking anytime soon. Indeed, as noted in a recent Pitchbook analysis, global HR tech funding has ballooned to $9.2 billion so far this year which is 130% greater than the total for 2020:

Source:  https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/venture-capital-human-resources-tech-valuations, October 21, 2021

That enthusiasm has a definite ebullience factor in terms of what it contributes to valuations and round sizes—seed series, A, B, C, D, pre-IPO, all rounds are higher than they were years ago, and you see companies with significant capital war chests. We expect more acquisitions of smaller companies by larger companies that have raised significant capital as a little bit of economic Darwinism takes place. The firms that have raised massive rounds will clean up and consolidate some of their smaller competitors, in addition to investing in organic growth. 

“Focus is the focus” is a good long-term philosophy. Our discussion moved on to the importance of having the right people in place for each phase of a company’s evolution. Challenges may multiply as a company grows bigger, but there are more resources available to employ a greater calibre of talent. Being clear about the goal is paramount. Human capital technology category leaders find success focusing on their core strengths and extending into adjacencies versus too dramatically expanding their offerings into unrelated avenues. TCV portfolio company HireVue is a great example with its core lineage in pre-hire video interviewing, but added capabilities in interview scheduling, psychometric assessments, coding challenges, and recruiter assistant/candidate engagement SaaS.

Our experience tends to be that the best companies do a few things extremely well, and there is merit to “focus” being the focus. On the path from eight figures in revenue to nine figures in revenue, what a company says “no” to can be as important as what it says “yes” to. Part of our job as investors is to help entrepreneurs with some of those lessons learned and pattern recognition from other companies’ evolutions.

The HR software ecosystem is growing. Looking ahead to the “hot spaces” in the HR tech sector, I highlighted the expanding role of Chief HR Officers (CHROs). Over the last two years (and pre-pandemic), the CHRO role has become far more strategic and operational versus perhaps more historically administrative, and compliance oriented in nature. This is creating significant new opportunities for technology. For instance, growing transience in the employee base has a bearing on the role of pre-hire technology. Upskilling and reskilling is surging in importance, as the workplace changes, and employers take stock of the key skills required for their organizations as well as employees taking stock of how they want their careers to progress.

Employee experience (EX) is another area of significant emphasis particularly given some of the changes that the last two years have brought. Josh and I concur about the huge potential around EX, noting we can expect all sorts of tools, platforms and systems coming onto the market with vendors like TCV portfolio company Perceptyx leading the way. I was struck by his observation that the new companies are more AI-enabled, more skills based, and better able to accommodate the emerging creator economy. This is based on the concept of a creator platform for HR, where employees build content for each other, and HR and managers build content for employees. As Josh says, “I believe there’s a ‘TikTok of HR’ space out there.”

Josh predicts a rising generation of vendors that are going to be platform and data vendors that are equally savvy about the external job market or skills or industry data, and their systems are going to be faster and better than less data-rich HR software tools. 

Josh and I agreed that the HR software ecosystem is growing, becoming more robust, and that the runway is very long given the size of the total talent market and the opportunities and challenges of the present and future. What a great conversation with a genuine HR tech guru—I really enjoyed it!

To learn more, tune into HR Technology: The Investor’s Perspective. Conversation w/Nari Ansari

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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/.