Triplebyte raises $35M for its online coding test and credentialing service for hiring engineers

LinkedIn, with nearly 600 million users, dominates the market today for recruiters headhunting suitable candidates for knowledge-worker roles. But with minimal controls for guaranteeing that people are what they say they are, it opens up a gap in the market for startups to give recruiters a better steer with more verified information. Today, a startup that aims to do this for the engineering world raised a big round of funding to do that.

Triplebyte — which offers personalised online coding tests (the tests ask questions based on how well you answered previous problems) and subsequent technical interviews to help screen candidates for prospective employers — is announcing that it has raised a Series B of $35 million, underscoring the demand it has seen for its services and the opportunity to grow the business further.

“More companies than ever before are hiring engineers, but we thought the default for sourcing those who are already in jobs — using LinkedIn — was not good enough,” said CEO Harj Taggar, who co-founded Triplebyte with Guillaume Luccisano (CTO) and Ammon Bartram (COO), in an interview this week.

The funding is being co-led by Ali Rowghani from YC Continuity and Brian Singerman from Founders Fund. Previous investors Caffeinated Capital and Initialized Capital are also in this round. Taggar said Triplebyte is not disclosing its valuation with this round — it has raised $50 million to date — but he hinted that it is in the “hundred million multiples towards being a unicorn.”

In addition to going though the YC program, Taggar was one of the first two outside partners that the storied accelerator ever hired, before jumping back into founding his own startup (he was also previously a co-founder of Auctomatic, acquired by LiveCurrent Media, along with Stripe’s Patrick Collison and Kulveer Taggar).

With its roots firmly in Y Combinator, Triplebyte first tested the waters for the service by offering it to YC companies looking to hire and engineers at YC companies looking for their next role after observing how resumes never really told the full story, and how the resulting process of screening people took too long. Luccisano and Bartram had an even more direct connection, both struggling at different times to find work, and then eventually to find suitable candidates at companies where they did work, like Socialcam and Twitch.

“What would it mean if you could get hired without a resume, instead using a company like ours with an online coding quiz and technical interview?,” he said he asked himself. “If you have the skills, we could get you the interview.”

The 50 YC companies that first tried this out saw some success, with 1-2 hires per month, enough to encourage Triplebyte to scale its service.

Today, there are testing results from some 150,000 engineers on its platform, which Triplebyte uses to help compare newer candidate performance, as well as to feed its testing algorithms that personalise tests to each candidate. Customers, meanwhile, now include Adobe, Apple, financial services companies like American Express, Union Bank and Black Rock, and more “organic inbound” from more than just startups.

(And with that, the pricing model has also changed, from a per-use rate to time-based subscriptions that match how often an organization uses Triplebyte.)

There are a lot of online credential and coding schools these days, and to be clear, Triplebyte is not trying to replace these. (In fact, Taggar notes that they partner with some of them, including the Lambda School, another YC startup.)

What it is trying to do is, in an industry like technology, where speed is of the essence, speed up some of the processes that have to happen before you hire a technical person, by taking out a few stages on behalf of the employer and candidate.

There are some twists to Triplebyte that speak to some of the automation of dating services that provide you with sorted profiles that it think best match you. In the case of Triplebyte, it matches candidates to jobs that it determines are most suitable, which might not be the companies a candidate has set out to target for work.

“Candidates don’t get to explicitly say, ‘I want X company,’ ” Taggar said, “and we’re not showing them to every company on Triplebyte. Our machine learning models predict where they are most likely to get an offer. Those companies can then reach out to talk and learn more.” That in itself can be instructive to the candidate anyway, who can go away and figure out what he or she needs to learn next to get to the stage they are targeting.

Engineering is an obvious category for Triplebyte to target: there’s a lot of competition from a lot of people who all claim to be able to do the same thing, and there is already a strong culture of testing candidates at many of the top companies before they ever get to any interview stage. Taggar said that for now and for the foreseeable future, the company thinks this is enough for it to chew.

“I am a 100 percent believer in the model of skills-based hiring done better by a third party at the top of the hiring funnel, but I think the key to getting it right is going deep into the details into how to do the assessments in a fair way, and that requires a lot of expertise,” Taggar said. “I believe there will be Triplebytes for many verticals.”

There is indeed a lot more do to here, and “fair” is the operative word. Right now, there isn’t a clear way for employers or prospective candidates to match in situations where, for example, the organization in question is looking to hire a more diverse range of employees, something that can help a company not just with its work culture but also influence how a product is developed for a more diverse audience (the two really do go hand in hand).

Triplebyte already has gone some way toward “solving” this by moving away from resumes and their emphasis on fancy schools and work histories. But Taggar said in the company’s interviews with engineering directors and hiring managers, diversity has been the “top priority” in how they are hiring.

So that’s leading Triplebyte both to work harder to bring more of these candidates to its platform, directly and through third-party organizations, as well as continue to work on ways of making assessments that will cut across the field in an even way. Along with expanding its own business development, I’m guessing this will be a key area the company will continue to work on in the weeks and months to come.