You’re Funded! Zao Raises $1.3M For Its Social Recruitment Platform

Finding potential job candidates through existing employees and their networks is probably as old as the labor market itself, but in the age of social networking, the process can be made much more efficient. Add in a little gamification and other incentives, and things get really interesting.

To that end, social recruiting startup, Zao, has raised its first funding round: $1.3 million led by Oren Zeev, Founding Partner at Orens Capital and former General Partner at Apax Partners. Zeev, who will take a seat on Zao’s Board, was also one of the original investors in Audible, which exited to Amazon for $300m. Other notable investments include Infolinks, Duda Mobile, and Houzz.

Also joining the round is Oren Dobronsky (Founding Partner at Orens Capital), Zohar Gilon, Gary Ginsberg (EVP, Corporate Marketing and Communications at Time Warner), and Donald Katz (CEO of Audible). We’ve also learned that Robin Klein and Saul Klein participated too.

Founded by Ziv Eliraz in September last year, Zao aims to solve the problem in which the main source for company hires – referrals – is still largely managed in a very manual way whereby someone from the HR department sends an email to all staff describing a job opening, and those staff are left to figure out how to leverage their networks to find and attract suitable candidates to apply. Instead, Zao’s platform provides a step by step process that exploits social networking and gamification to make it easier for and to motivate employees (and ex-employees) to become recruiters, along with other trusted partners.

An employer simply signs up, uploads a job, sets a cash reward and sends it to their employees and broader network, a process that’s said to take about 10 minutes. Zao then provides employees with tools to forward the job on a personal basis to the people that are most likely to be or help find the right candidate, with any reward split across those in the chain as a further motivation for friends of friends to refer the right candidate.

The majority of the service is free to use but Zao adds a 30% mark up to any reward included in return for automating the whole process.

Of course there are a ton of competitors — broadly any company in the online recruiting space. But specifically, in terms of social recruiting, companies such as BranchOut, the professional network that runs on top of Facebook, springs to mind, although lots of other services don’t have the same focus on referral tracking that Zao does. In that regard, its closest rival is probably Jobvite.