Visier becomes the latest unicorn in the crowded HR tech arena

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Visier became the latest human resources tech company to reach a $ 1 billion valuation on Tuesday morning after securing $ 125 million in Series E funding from Goldman Sachs.

It is the largest investment in the Vancouver, BC-based company by far, more than doubling its previous investments. The startup’s workforce management software has been adopted by some 8,000 customers worldwide, including Merck, Adobe and Electronic Arts, to assess employee performance and predict employee turnover. The company refused to share its current income with Forbes, but CEO and co-founder Ryan Wong revealed that the company is currently breaking even.

“We like to say we’re the McKinsey of software,” says Wong. “Instead of calling on a large consulting firm, Visier can provide an answer. We find the right question to ask and we have machine learning that can provide the answer. “

The investment could give Visier an edge in the US $ 9.4 billion human resources technology market, known to insiders as Human Capital Management (HCM). Companies in the HCM market offer a wide range of tools to their clients, ranging from centralizing and digitizing personnel data to in-depth hiring and recruiting analysis. From record keeping to staffing decisions, the guiding strategy is similar to most automations: reduce human intervention.

“Once companies can establish the technology infrastructure for analysis, they can reduce the need for HR personnel, increase overall productivity, assess other human capital trends, and increase profitability,” says Jackie Hiner, analyst at IBISWorld.

According to a 2020 report by IBISWorld analyst Dan Cook, only four companies dominate nearly 66% of the HCM market: Workday, Ultimate Software, ADP and Intuit. The rest of the market is made up of small companies that compete by bringing a narrower focus – a specialty in recruiting, for example – or technical sophistication, such as a mastery of artificial intelligence. The potential for major technical gains has also caught the attention of more venture capitalists in recent years.

“If we look at what HCM technology was doing 10 years ago, the main focus was on administration, time management and some aspects of talent management,” says John Kostoulas, analyst at Gartner. “Now you are seeing new aspects of HCM technology emerging: talent attraction, recruiting marketing, candidate relationship management. And new areas, like recruiting and DEI coaching.

Visier’s differentiation strategy is based on expertise in “people analytics,” an opaque term for the use of big data to make people decisions. (Wong himself is the first to admit that they need a new branding: “We’ve been drumming on people analysis for a decade now. It’s still not fully understood.”) Their platform consolidates information from a company’s existing human resources, payroll, and remote management. systems to provide a consistent look at an employee’s “life cycle”.

At the individual level, this information is used to search for candidates for internal promotion, among other performance measures. Taken as a whole, they can be used to limit overtime pay, track diversity goals, and establish hiring paths. Because of its big data analytics, the platform is especially useful for large companies with 1,000 or more employees, Wong says, although it has applications that still benefit small businesses.

Wong is comfortable with technical processes. A programmer by training, his journey began in 1996 with Crystal Services, a software company that helped generate business reports and was owned by Fremont, Calif., Hard drive manufacturer Seagate. In 2003, French tech company BusinessObjects bought Crystal from Seagate for $ 820 million. It was there that Wong met John Schwartz, CEO of BusinessObjects and a former executive of IBM and Symantec. Both remained after SAP acquired BusinessObjects in 2007 for $ 6.8 billion. By then, Schwartz had shown he could grow a business, and Wong had the technical expertise to build a business intelligence platform from scratch. Thus, in 2010, the two decided to form Visier and to embark on waters then less congested with human resources.

In May 2020, Schwartz stepped down as CEO and handed over the reins to Wong.

According to Wong, Visier will use some of its recent funding to expand into the global market, likely through offices in Germany and the UK. workplace management.

“Covid has created a new relationship between employer and employee,” says Wong. “Our surveys show a turnover of 25 to 40% when companies return to work. Employers need to know who is at risk. This is where we play a big role.


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