Turing, which labels itself an "Intelligent Talent Cloud", announced today it has attained unicorn status after raising $87 million at a valuation of about $1.1 billion. The Series D financing was led by WestBridge Capital with participation from Foundation Capital, along with new investor StepStone Group.
WestBridge Capital is a $7 billion fund with deep expertise across SaaS and IT services and has invested in global IT services companies such as Cognizant Technology Solutions and Global Logic. Foundation Capital, with $4B under management, has invested in companies including Netflix, Uber, and Solana. StepStone Group is a $22 billion late-stage growth equity fund with investments in leading talent clouds such as WorkRise (RigUp) and Trusted Health.
Other investors in the round include AltaIR Capital, HR Tech Investments LLC (an affiliate of Indeed), Brainstorm Ventures, Frontier Ventures, Modern Venture Partners, and Plug and Play Scale Fund. The unicorn round brings Turing's total raised capital to over $140 million. This round was heavily oversubscribed; Turing has since opened a SAFE at a $4 billion valuation cap which is now also oversubscribed.
The company's goal is to provide hiring leaders and recruiters at tech-focused companies access to a global talent base. The inspiration for Turing came to repeat entrepreneurs Jonathan Siddharth & Vijay Krishnan from their experience scaling their first startup Rover, which was also built remote-first and successfully acquired in 2017.
Turing claims it has grown its developer pool over 9x within the last 12 months after raising its Series B in December 2020, adding marquee customers Johnson & Johnson, Coinbase, Rivian, Dell, Disney, Plume, and VillageMD. With more than one million developers from 140 countries, Turing's exponential growth has helped award the company the number one spot in the highly competitive B2B category for The Information's 2021 50 Most Promising Startups list.
"Turing's growth has been nothing short of phenomenal," said Sumir Chadha, Managing Director of WestBridge Capital. "Over the past two decades, we have invested in and witnessed the creation of massive companies in offshore development across the globe."
Currently, the company supports 15 different job types and close to 100 different technologies. Their vetting process builds a profile for every developer. Matching intelligence attempts to connect developers with roles. After the match, Turing manages (to a degree) the remote development process. The remote-first company offers to take care of global HR, payroll, developer support, and enforcement of each customer's security protocols.
"The way we work has fundamentally changed. With the world's shift to remote work and the talent cloud, we are entering a golden era for the tech industry. You can now work in Silicon Valley without needing to live in Silicon Valley. Talent is universal. Now, opportunity is too," said Siddharth.
Turing's major offering, their Intelligent Talent Cloud, wants to solve the challenges tech firms face by combining planetary reach and AI to deliver ideal engineers billed by the month. They do this via automation, AI-tech, and - of course - plain old human vetting. The last part of their process is where other companies who've made earlier similar claims tend to trip up and burn through VC dollars.
That said, Turing’s vetting process is at least semi-automated, and they claim to provide talent to hires "in days, not weeks, custom-matched as per the client’s requirements". So... maybe. But if the past is an indicator of performance: that human vetting part is where the automation ends, and the wheels come off.
The golden ring that each iteration of the idea reaches for just as it tumbles off the carousel unicorn is efficiency - eliminating the need for a customer's engineering team to do interviews, saving hours of engineering interviewing time per hire, etc.
Automation - real AI, in other words - if achieved would give that arm a bit more stretch. Substituting humans is, well, a bit of Vaudville claiming to be magic. Imagine the Man Behind the Green Curtain.
There are drawbacks. Along with the fly-in-the-recruitment-process called "human", operationally it is heavily tilted at the front-end - and this may explain their focus on content marketing geared towards work-seekers (more on that soon). While Turing makes claims to have a selective hiring process, that seems to be the end of the road. For example, Turing does not have its own payroll and compliance system (they outsource this to DEEL), and its time-tracking system is reportedly lacking, with little more than a daily checklist. It is very much about talent delivery versus talent management. Which, in the current market, is plenty enough to grab some fast VC backing. The question is, what happens when the talent market settles down? History doesn't predict a smooth ride for investors.
On the content-marketing piece. Reviews of Turing from "employees" contain a few red flags - and leave the distinct impression of, well, being less than authentic.
While there are numerous glowing reviews, they all seem rather consistent with one another in both word choice and tone - to the point where they often feel scripted. Or, to put a finer point on it: fluffed. A LinkedIn "review" titled "My Review of Turing.com: A Great Platform for Talented Developers to Find the Best Remote Software Jobs" turns out to have been written by a Turing content manager.
On Indeed, the company has 51 reviews, 46 of which are 5-star reviews - a red flag in and of itself. No company is that universally loved. The titles are extremely effusive, and include gems like "Turing has the best work culture where you’ll get to learn a lot from the diverse team", "Your ideas are always appreciated and cultivated at Turing.com", "My Turing job turned out to be so much more than I expected!", and "If you’re looking to become a part of Turing, JUST GO FOR IT!"
Many of those reviews appear in batches on the same days - leaving the impression that someone at Turing's content marketing team has a recurring item on their monthly schedule.
In addition, on Glassdoor out of 165 company reviews, 107 are 5-star. And - curiously enough -many of them are repeats from other review sites, down to the titles themselves. Since you can't cross-post company reviews between the platforms, it seems like somebody's going to a heck of a lot of effort to convince software talent that Turing is some sort of land of milk & honey. Maybe Turing's just that good of a place to work. Maybe.
On other forums like Quora, Engineers who seem somewhat less enthused: "they take more than 50% of your paycheck forever and give you practically zero benefits for it. It’s better to avoid them and wait for another opportunity"; "They are looking for CHEAP developers - if you do not believe just take a look at all their current developers and you will know its true - all located in `Third World` countries where salaries are extremely low. If you are a developer who is currently working for more than $1000/month they will not offer you a job". It goes on, and on, from there.
Caveat emptor, venture capitalists.