Helping businesses better manage gig economy workers is turning out to be a pitch with serious pulling power for Lystable, the UK startup which closed an $11 million Series A this summer, led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures — following fast from its $3.5M seed round last year, which Thiel’s fund also participated in.
Lystable has also this year relocated its HQ from London to SF.
Now the startup, which was also a finalist in the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt London 2015, is announcing it’s added another well-known investor to its list: PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, who joins the Series A via an undisclosed amount.
So what’s exciting the Peter Thiels and Max Levchins of the tech investment world? Lystable’s vision of seamlessly integrating a growing gig economy workforce with workplaces whose legacy software is designed for full-time staff not fly-by-night freelancers, that’s what. Aka skating to where the puck is being driven as software continues to consume the world.
Core functions Lystable’s platform manages currently includes onboarding, invoicing and payments. But Levchin evidently reckons it can go a lot further. Founder Peter Johnston says it’s been working on its product strategy with Levchin’s team at HVF, the latter’s data-centric company building investment vehicle.
Commenting in a statement, Levchin noted: “We have seen the rapid growth of freelancer marketplaces already make a dent in the traditional recruitment and staffing agency space; but really embracing these workers becomes harder for any company as it scales — let alone big corporations. Lystable is pushing the industry forward, by making it easy for corporations to work with freelancers, and vice versa.”
Fleshing out his vision for the future of work a little further, in comments emailed to TechCrunch, Levchin added: “Aside from leadership positions, I think there are few occupations that won’t have substantial populations of freelancers. One of the key insights Lystable had early on was that employment status is primarily dependent on the need of the enterprise — which varies highly — while the ability to find work as a freelancer has become easier regardless of occupation.”
Asked how exactly HVF is working with Lystable, Levchin was keeping his cards pretty close to his chest, saying only: “Pete, is truly a product first CEO. He’s able to connect the dots from the C-suite to the freelancer on the other side of the country. Our hope is that we can help him with a few tricks we’ve seen work along the way in similarly complex industries.”
“We are really trying to progress next year as not just a technology platform but a data one,” Johnston added. “We want to do exactly what the HVF are known for, mining insights from the data to improve customers’ lives.
“We have a lot of data on the shifting professional landscape, in particular we are looking to leverage this to improve how companies look at hiring, structuring their workforces and help them make better spending decisions on full time employment versus freelance and contract.”
Lystable’s 60 clients thus far include likely suspects in the tech and media industry, including the likes of Airbnb, Google, CNBC and MTV. But its big bet is that the number of gig economy/freelance workers will rise dramatically in the coming years, as tech continues to enable more mobile and dynamic ways of working — giving more and more businesses a pressing need to update their workforce management tools.
Another new investor in the Series A being announced today is the VC arm of New York based real estate dynasty, LeFrak — a business that’s run by a mega landlord who is presumably placing investment bets with the strategic hope of unlocking additional value from physical bricks and mortar assets by supporting the market for gig economy activities like home sharing.
This post was updated with additional comment from Levchin, and to correct the name of his company builder HVF.