Gloat raises $57M to reinvent the internal job board

A lot of the focus in recruitment these days has been on better technology to connect people to job opportunities at new organizations, but that also leaves a wide opening to focus on one of the other big funnels for finding work: internal transfers. Today, a startup that is building tools to improve that experience is announcing a big round of funding to expand its business.

Gloat, which has built an AI-based platform that it sells to organizations to power their internal job boards, has picked up $57 million in funding, money that it will be using both to continue both for business development, but also to continue adding more features to its own platform, for example to expand deeper into openings for contractors and to open up more opportunities for secondments at other businesses, and to extend into front-line positions alongside the knowledge worker roles for which the AI is currently optimized — in short, to improve career agility for people embedded at, and valued by, an organization, who may want to explore opportunities there instead of, or even alongside, looking elsewhere.

Accel is leading this Series C round, with previous backers Eight Roads (a part of Fidelity), Intel Capital, Magma Venture Partners, and PICO Partners also participating.

Gloat is not (ahem) gloating about its valuation, but we understand that it is in the region of around $400 million (but note, it’s a wide region so might be as low as $300 million or as high as $500 million: we’ll update when and if we learn more). The Tel Aviv-based startup has raised $92 million to date and counts big companies like Unilever, Pepsi, MetLife, HSBC and ADP among its customers.

Ben Reuveni, Gloat’s CEO who co-founded the business with Amichai Schreiber and Danny Shteinberg, said he got the idea for the company while working as an engineer focusing on storage at IBM after IBM acquired a smaller company where he was working. This was his first job after spending time in the Israel’s IDF, and so after six years of working first for the startup and then IBM in effectively a similar role, he had itchy feet and wanted to do more.

But the problem, he said, was that although IBM did have internal job boards, it was hard to see how his expertise mapped on to the opportunities that were available. And that is before you consider the interface or any of the other aspects of user experience of using these tools. On top of this, when you are considering large enterprises the size of IBM, chances are that they are not focusing too much on individualized career development or talent retention for most people at the lower end of the wider pay scale.

“I really had only two options available to me,” he said. “Look for new jobs outside the company, or try to look internally. The fact was that exploring outside was easier than looking internally.”

It turns out that his experience was not unique. Internal job boards, he said, typically have atrocious engagement, in the single-digit percentage of staff.

Reuveni eventually did move on from IBM, to start Gloat. The company’s central premise is to build a job board tool that it sells to bigger enterprises — the kind that employ thousands of people and already have job boards — so that they can better hold on to talent rather than losing it to others because they — the employee and the employer — haven’t found the right role for a particular person who wants to switch gears.

It does this first of all by way of making the barrier to using Gloat very low: it initially can be integrated with whatever recruiting software or tools that an organization might already be using to source and internally advertise their job openings, which it then channels through its system and algorithm.

Secondly, it starts to build profiles not just of jobs, but of people in the organization and the skills that they have to match with those jobs. That is to say, Gloat’s taken what has typically been a very one-sided, and one-directional effort and turned it into one that goes both ways. To source information on employees — who can signal to Gloat that they would like to look for new opportunities — it looks at employment records, resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and perhaps a little input from the employee directly: all of this is ingested into its AI to help match a person to openings.

In cases where those skills are not quite right for what an employee wants to do, they get guidance on what they need to learn, and might also get options for “part-time” work within the organization where they can pick up experience they may still lack. (This is not unlike the career development tools that LinkedIn has built to bolster job hunting on its platform.)

Meanwhile, the department looking for a new person is getting sent referrals through the system, but it can also proactively use the Gloat database to find people to tap.

All of this is interesting but it leaves out a tricky variable, in the form of a manager.

What if you are working in a tense environment or simply don’t get along with the person to whom you directly report? Or what if the manager is possessive and doesn’t want to encourage you to leave? Considering that management is often evaluated not just on their own performance but on how well their teams do, it can be a risk to lose someone good.

Gloat’s system requires managers to endorse a worker as part of the process, so while some might be genuinely happy to see people they value continue to go upwards and onwards, couldn’t that also blow up this whole system in a bad way in those other cases?

Reuveni brushed that scenario aside when I brought it up, describing Gloat as a “win win situation” for managers, too, who will be motivated to help because the platform helps them find the right replacements. “Every manager can open a part-time project or internal job with their product,” he said.

I’m not fully convinced that may always be the case. But on the other hand, if you’re in a tough situation in your current placement, maybe looking at other organizations, or just using the more standard job board approach (which remains active, from what I understand), both would be better options anyway.

In the meantime, the company is looking to keep stretching the concept of “internal hires” into a much wider set of circumstances.

That will include providing openings to existing contractors looking for new contract roles when their current assignments end; or moving from a company to a similar role at another organization, as long as it’s non-competitive with your current employer (something that also comes up, Reuveni said, when a company is conducting a mass restructuring and is attempting to help affected employees find jobs elsewhere); or providing more analytics to HR teams, managers and other higher-ups who want a better look at the state of talent at their companies.

With talent retention and brain drain continuing to be big issues in a number of industries, it seems like a ripe time to address all of that.

“As companies are adapting their workforces to be more flexible and take advantage of remote workers, new tools are needed to optimise productivity and ensure equality of opportunities,” said Philippe Botteri, Partner at Accel, in a statement. “Gloat pioneered the Talent Marketplace to solve that, and it’s now becoming a strategic tool for global enterprises. Some of the world’s largest, most forward-looking companies are benefiting from the workforce agility enabled by Gloat’s AI-powered platform. The Accel team is looking forward to partnering with Gloat on the next stage of its journey, bringing this fundamentally new way of developing talent and managing work to every global enterprise.”

The hidden benefits of adding a CTO to your board

The pandemic forced companies around the world to adjust to a “new normal,” which caused many leaders to pivot their business strategies and adopt new technologies to continue operations. In a time of chaos and change, there is no senior leader that can navigate this sort of change better than a CTO.

Not only do CTOs understand the ever-changing tech landscape, they also provide invaluable insights to help organizations go beyond traditional IT conversations and leverage technology to successfully scale businesses.

Boards are facing pressure to be strategic and thoughtful on how to evolve in the rapidly iterating world of technology, and a CTO is uniquely positioned to address specific challenges.

There are now more reasons than ever to consider adding a CTO to your board. As a CTO myself, I know how important and impactful it can be to have technical-minded leaders on a company’s board of directors. At a time when companies are accelerating their digital transformation, it’s critical to have diverse technical perspectives and people from varying backgrounds, as transformations are a mix of people, process and technology.

Drawing on my experience on Lightbend’s board of directors, here are five hidden benefits of making space at the table for a CTO.

A unique mind (and skill) set

Currently, most boards of directors are composed of former CEOs, CFOs and investors. While such executives bring vast experience, they have very specific expertise, and that frequently does not include technical proficiency. In order for a company to be successful, your board needs to have people with different backgrounds and expertise.

Inviting different perspectives forces companies out of the groupthink mentality and find new, creative solutions to their problems. Diverse perspectives aren’t just about the title –– racial ethnicity and gender diversity are clearly a play here as well.

Deep understanding of tech

For a product-led company, having a CTO who has been close to product development and innovation can bring deep insights and understanding to the boardroom. Boards are facing pressure to be strategic and thoughtful on how to evolve in the rapidly iterating world of technology, and a CTO is uniquely positioned to address specific challenges.

Malt raises $97M at a $489M valuation for its freelance marketplace for developers

The world of professional services has long relied on contractors to fill in for assignments and projects that might not be a part of the course of daily work, but are essential work nonetheless. Today, a startup that’s built a marketplace to make it easier for freelance developers, designers and others with technical skills with those job opportunities is announcing a significant round of funding to expand its business.

Malt, which provides a way for developers, data scientists, designers, project managers and others working in related fields to connect with fixed-term job opportunities in their fields, has picked up €80 million ($97 million at today’s rates), money that the company plans to use to expand its business to more markets.

We understand from sources that the investment — led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity and Eurazeo — values Malt at €400 million ($489 million).

Vincent Huguet, Malt’s CEO who co-founded the company with Hugo Lassiège and Jean-Baptiste Lemée, said in an interview that the funding in part will be used towards continuing to expand the company across Europe with a view to, longer term, also breaking into the U.S. In Europe, the company was founded in Paris, and it currently has operations in France (Paris, Lyon), Germany (Munich), and Spain (Madrid). The plan is to extend that to Benelux next, with the UK and Italy company after that.

The company has to date amassed 250,000 freelancers in its community, with 30,000 businesses tapping this pool to fill jobs. End customers include the likes of Unilever, Lufthansa, Bosch, BlaBla Car, L’Oreal and Allianz, and it also partners with traditional consultancies like McKinsey to help them source people for projects. Altogether the company has handled some €300 million in business since being founded in 2013.

These numbers, it seems, are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s estimated that there are some 6 million people in Europe working as freelancers today, and Malt estimates that the freelance consulting market is worth some €350 billion annually in the region.

Although recruitment for many parts of the economy has largely gone digital in the last two decades, Malt is tackling a part of the temp economy that has ironically held a strong offline presence.

“The most important thing is that we are a very open marketplace, an Airbnb-style search marketplace,” he said. “It’s all really based on our search engine. In a market that is very opaque, where offline and online players [those connecting technical workers with jobs] are protecting their bases, we have opened the information.” It also provides payment services and advanced solutions for some of its customers once people are engaged, he added.

“Freelancer” is a pretty loaded term in the tech world today — it could mean anything from a gig worker delivering food, driving you around or cleaning a house, from the plethora of people who work on fixed-term contracts, and soemtimes the implications are not great. Critics will say companies lean on the freelancer model in order to skirt around having to provide extensive benefits to those doing the jobs.

Malt is working in a somewhat different area, focusing on a gap in the market that has been around for a long while, finding people with specific, valued technical skills to fill in for project-based work, but has often been a tough one to crack for employers, Huguet said.

“We are going after those who charge a few hundred dollars per day and connecting them with mid- and large-sized companies,” said Huguet, who described Malt as very different from the likes of Fiverr, which also lets people find skilled workers but focuses on finding the lowest bidder for a job. “You search for a specific freelancer as the employer. You don’t post a specific task for freelancers to respond.” The average time of engagement is around three weeks but might be as long as three months, he said.

What has been interesting — and has definitely had an impact on how Malt has grown, and the investment it’s announcing today — is how much the working world has shifted in the last year and a half. Not only has Covid-19 changed how people work in offices — if they are working in offices at all anymore — but the rapidly changing circumstances have somewhat played into the idea of building out work strategy on more concrete short- and medium-term goals, with longer-term remaining a conditional. This fits the kind of jobs that Malt typically helps fill requirements for, and the changes also has meant more workers coming into Malt’s universe looking for work.

“What we can see already and predict in the next quarters is that we will be a post covid winner,” Huguet said. “People are now considering different options. The idea of a full-time employee was that when everyone was in office people knew how to work 9-6, and that’s what was expected. Now that people are working on projects, employers are more open to consultants. This plus the bigger hiring freezes helped us grow much faster. The market and the mindset have changed.”

Similarly, people who might have previously looked first for full-time employment are now feeling more secure putting their eggs into the freelance basket. “More than 90% of freelancers are joining us by choice,” he added.

What will be interesting is to see how and if companies like LinkedIn, which has been a strong player in professional recruitment, make more headway in this space, on the back of a launch of a freelancer marketplace earlier this year.

“We are watching what it’s doing, but we think it will be hard for them to do,” Huguet said. He pointed out that LinkedIn’s profiles today are dedicated to classic recruitment, so doing the matching for freelance is very different.

Regardless of how LinkedIn’s interest plays out, its activity there also points to a big opportunity, one big reason for why investors are backing Malt right now.

“Malt is at a pivotal time in its development. This new round of funding will allow the company to scale rapidly and drive even greater impact,” said Yann du Rusquec, a partner at Eurazeo. “We are excited to partner with Vincent and Alexandre—and offer the expertise of our Growth and Venture teams along with the depth of Eurazeo’s network in Europe—to drive Malt’s future success.”

“We are delighted to support Malt to build the leading freelance marketplace in Europe,” added Alexandre Flavier, executive director at Goldman Sachs Growth Equity. “Malt is at the forefront of the future of work, promoting agility, innovation, impact, freedom of choice, making freelancing simpler and more reliable. We are excited to partner with Malt’s founders, empower their community of highly skilled freelancers, and give companies access to the world’s best freelance talents.”