Job market Venture

Job Site Handshake Joins Unicorn Board With $80M Series E

Illustration of remote worker on Zoom meeting.

San Francisco-based Handshake, a job service aimed at college students, announced its Series E funding of $80 million led by prior investors Spark Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners valuing the company at more than $1.5 billion. 

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This funding comes within seven months of its Series D in October 2020. That round was also $80 million, valuing the company at less than half that amount at $600 million. The recent funding brings its total raise to $235.5 million.

According to the company, 49 percent  of U.S. college graduates from 2018-2020 received job offers for opportunities they found on Handshake.

“Doubling down on our investment five years later underscores our belief that Handshake will not only help students build the skills and relationships they need to get their first job, but also expand into the $100 billion-plus market of helping professionals advance their careers with second, third and fourth jobs over time,” said Will Reed, a general partner at Spark Capital.

It is on track to hit $100 million annual recurring revenue within a year and has more than doubled its revenue every year for the past three years, according to the company.

What it does

Handshake matches college students and recent graduates with jobs. It charges colleges a set fee based on the size of student enrollment (their students can use it for free) along with a freemium model for employers with upgrades  for premium features.

The company has built a network of 18 million students across 1,200 educational institutions ranging from four-year colleges, and more recently, community colleges and bootcamps. The company claims 550,000 companies use their service along with 100 percent of the Fortune 500.

In April 2020, jobs on Handshake were down 52% compared with 2019. In April 2021, jobs posted to Handshake were 209% higher than in 2020 and 48% higher than even back in 2019.

The pandemic has shifted college recruiting online, benefiting Handshake alongside other recruiting platforms that have shown growth during the last year. Recruiting platforms joining the unicorn board in the last 12 months include Germany-based Personio, California-based Eightfold, and Pennsylvania-based Phenom People. Recently it was announced that TikTok is exploring a tool for brands to recruit, given GenZers use of the service for career advice.

New investors in this round include Coatue and Valiant Peregrine Fund, along with existing investors True Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, EQT Ventures, GGV Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Emerson Collective.

The funding will help Handshake expand to new geographies and continue to grow their school offering as well as deepen engagement with students. 

Said the company “After a year of virtual operations, it’s become clear that virtual hiring efforts are here to stay.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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