WorkTech has just released its analysis of 2021's investment activity. And it's a doozy.
During a year when the world initially thought about mass unemployment amidst late-winter/ early-spring layoffs, only to see a historic rebound in job openings amidst a massive (and still growing) wave of resignations, employers increasingly turned to tools. Categories from job boards to chatbots saw multiple unicorns emerge - and the trend continued to the end, with Paradox's December 27th announcement that it too had entered the ranks of the single-horned.
$17.9 billion across 374 deals and 30 new work tech unicorns - surpassing the record set in 2019 by nearly $10 billion.
2021 set records for global work tech VC that may never be broken.
The trends are global, too. While the US lead the pack with several hundred deals on record, the EU, Latin America, and APAC countries saw growth. Per-capita, tiny Estonia, with 3 investments swung hard for the fences. Madrid, Spain based Jobandtalent raised $218 million.
Speaking to Crunchbase, Adam Boutin, a partner at Capital One Growth Ventures - which participated in Eightfold's massive raise last year - said: “Companies always looked at HR as a cost center. It didn’t drive sales, therefore they didn’t want to spend there. But more people are realizing people are their advantage.”
To get that “people advantage,” Boutin said companies are trying to figure out how to “fish for talent in different ponds” - using technology to help figure out what candidates may be a good fit for jobs based on their skill set instead of just the job they may have applied for through an overly simplistic online search.
“There is an unmet demand from the small and medium enterprises that wish to establish HR solutions within their organization. These companies are preferring cloud-based and tech-focused offerings and hence HR-tech companies are gaining traction,” said Mohan Kumar, founder of Avataar Ventures. His firm led a $16 million round in AI-driven talent engagement and communication platform Sense in June this year. “For decades, this space did not see disruption and was dominated by a few big companies. But now, startups are bringing in value and filling the gap especially addressing the needs for Gig and temporary workers. The total addressable market is huge,” he said.
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