Enterprise Venture

Mergers & Money: An Insane Amount Of Venture Dollars Flooded HR Tech In The Past 2 Months

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Editor’s note: Mergers & Money is a monthly column by Senior Reporter Chris Metinko that covers dealmaking and the flow of venture capital in the enterprise tech space.

With the “Great Resignation” still very much in the headlines and job openings being plentiful to anyone on LinkedIn, money is pouring into human resource tech like never before—with just the past two months alone proving unprecedented.

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While we’ve touched on this recently at Crunchbase, funding in the sector has more than doubled since mid-July. Total venture dollars now stand at nearly $7.5 billion for the year—more than the totals for 2019 and 2020 combined.

In fact, since Sept. 1, startups in the sector have seen nearly $2.8 billion in venture dollars come their way. To put that in perspective, that is more than the total amount of venture capital the industry saw all of last year when $2.2 billion were invested.

Since Sept. 1, five rounds in HR tech were a quarter-of-a-billion dollars or bigger, including:

  • San Francisco-based payroll and compliance platform Deel closed a $425 million Series D led by Coatue at a $5.5 billion valuation last month;
  • Munich-based people workflow automation company Personio, raised a $270 million Series E led by Greenoaks at a $6.3 billion valuation, also in October;
  • San Francisco-based payroll and benefits platform Rippling closed a $250 million Series C led by Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Global Growth at a $6.5 billion valuation last month;
  • New York-based workforce management platform Papaya Global locked down a $250 million Series D led by Insight Partners at a $3.7 billion valuation in September; and
  • San Francisco-based background-check automation firm Checkr raised a $250 million Series A led by Durable Capital valuing it at $4.6 billion, also in September.

Last year, the biggest round the sector saw was Ripling’s $145 million Series B.

Unicorns abound

Those extremely large rounds have led to a boom in the HR tech unicorn population.

According to Crunchbase numbers, before this year the sector had only produced 10 unicorns ever—dating all the way back to Workday. The last two years have seen three new unicorns each and there were only two total unicorns in HR tech before 2018.

This year’s crazed interest from investors led to 15 new unicorns minted, with the likes of Deel, Papaya Global, Belgium-based Odoo, and Pennsylvania-based Phenom joining the now healthy herd.

Why now?

The onslaught of investment money and the growing herd of unicorns likely relates to the various tentacles of the pandemic and the upheaval in the labor force it has caused. While HR tech is not the sexiest of sectors, it can prove interesting to both investors and buyers in a time when employers are struggling to attract and retain talent.

Companies are looking globally for talent and need help with the compliance issues that brings. They are also completely changing the way they onboard and train employees in a remote-first era. Additionally, companies are trying desperately to keep their company culture in a time when no one sees their colleagues except on Zoom.

All of that does not even take into consideration that many companies are seeking new ways to expand diversity and inclusion initiatives, and just generally taking more of their business processes to the cloud as a way to stay flexible and modern.

Considering all the trends converging on the sector, the last two months of venture may just be a harbinger for a big 2022.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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