A lot of the focus in recruitment these days has been on better technology to connect people to job opportunities at new organizations, but that also leaves a wide opening to focus on one of the other big funnels for finding work: internal transfers. Today, a startup that is building tools to improve that experience is announcing a big round of funding to expand its business.
Gloat, which has built an AI-based platform that it sells to organizations to power their internal job boards, has picked up $57 million in funding, money that it will be using to continue business development, as well as to continue adding more features to its own platform, for example to expand deeper into openings for contractors and to open up more opportunities for secondments at other businesses, and to extend into front-line positions alongside the knowledge worker roles for which the AI is currently optimized — in short, to improve career agility for people embedded at, and valued by, an organization, who may want to explore opportunities there instead of, or even alongside, looking elsewhere.
Accel is leading this Series C round, with previous backers Eight Roads Ventures (backed by Fidelity), Intel Capital, Magma Venture Partners and PICO Partners also participating.
Gloat is not (ahem) gloating about its valuation, but we understand that it is in the region of around $400 million (but note, it’s a wide region, so might be as low as $300 million or as high as $500 million: we’ll update when and if we learn more). The Tel Aviv-based startup has raised $92 million to date and counts big companies like Unilever, Pepsi, MetLife, HSBC and ADP among its customers.
Ben Reuveni, Gloat’s CEO who co-founded the business with Amichai Schreiber and Danny Shteinberg, said he got the idea for the company while working as an engineer focusing on storage at IBM after IBM acquired a smaller company where he was working. This was his first job after spending time in Israel’s IDF, and so after six years of working first for the startup and then IBM in effectively a similar role, he had itchy feet and wanted to do more.
But the problem, he said, was that although IBM did have internal job boards, it was hard to see how his expertise mapped on to the opportunities that were available. And that is before you consider the interface or any of the other aspects of user experience of using these tools. On top of this, when you are considering large enterprises the size of IBM, chances are that they are not focusing too much on individualized career development or talent retention for most people at the lower end of the wider pay scale.
“I really had only two options available to me,” he said. “Look for new jobs outside the company, or try to look internally. The fact was that exploring outside was easier than looking internally.”
It turns out that his experience was not unique. Internal job boards, he said, typically have atrocious engagement, in the single-digit percentage of staff.
Reuveni eventually did move on from IBM — to start Gloat. The company’s central premise is to build a job board tool that it sells to bigger enterprises — the kind that employ thousands of people and already have job boards — so that they can better hold on to talent rather than losing it to others because they — the employee and the employer — haven’t found the right role for a particular person who wants to switch gears.
It does this first of all by way of making the barrier to using Gloat very low: it initially can be integrated with whatever recruiting software or tools that an organization might already be using to source and internally advertise their job openings, which it then channels through its system and algorithm.
Secondly, it starts to build profiles not just of jobs, but of people in the organization and the skills that they have to match with those jobs. That is to say, Gloat’s taken what has typically been a very one-sided, and one-directional effort and turned it into one that goes both ways. To source information on employees — who can signal to Gloat that they would like to look for new opportunities — it looks at employment records, resumes, LinkedIn profiles and perhaps a little input from the employee directly: all of this is ingested into its AI to help match a person to openings.
In cases where those skills are not quite right for what an employee wants to do, they get guidance on what they need to learn, and might also get options for “part-time” work within the organization where they can pick up experience they may still lack. (This is not unlike the career development tools that LinkedIn has built to bolster job hunting on its platform.)
Meanwhile, the department looking for a new person is getting sent referrals through the system, but it can also proactively use the Gloat database to find people to tap.
All of this is interesting, but it leaves out a tricky variable, in the form of a manager.
What if you are working in a tense environment or simply don’t get along with the person to whom you directly report? Or what if the manager is possessive and doesn’t want to encourage you to leave? Considering that management is often evaluated not just on their own performance but on how well their teams do, it can be a risk to lose someone good.
Gloat’s system requires managers to endorse a worker as part of the process, so while some might be genuinely happy to see people they value continue to go upwards and onwards, couldn’t that also blow up this whole system in a bad way in those other cases?
Reuveni brushed that scenario aside when I brought it up, describing Gloat as a “win-win situation” for managers, too, who will be motivated to help because the platform helps them find the right replacements. “Every manager can open a part-time project or internal job with their product,” he said.
I’m not fully convinced that may always be the case. But on the other hand, if you’re in a tough situation in your current placement, maybe looking at other organizations, or just using the more standard job board approach (which remains active, from what I understand), both would be better options anyway.
In the meantime, the company is looking to keep stretching the concept of “internal hires” into a much wider set of circumstances.
That will include providing openings to existing contractors looking for new contract roles when their current assignments end; or moving from a company to a similar role at another organization, as long as it’s non-competitive with your current employer (something that also comes up, Reuveni said, when a company is conducting a mass restructuring and is attempting to help affected employees find jobs elsewhere); or providing more analytics to HR teams, managers and other higher-ups who want a better look at the state of talent at their companies.
With talent retention and brain drain continuing to be big issues in a number of industries, it seems like a ripe time to address all of that.
“As companies are adapting their workforces to be more flexible and take advantage of remote workers, new tools are needed to optimise productivity and ensure equality of opportunities,” said Philippe Botteri, partner at Accel, in a statement. “Gloat pioneered the Talent Marketplace to solve that, and it’s now becoming a strategic tool for global enterprises. Some of the world’s largest, most forward-looking companies are benefiting from the workforce agility enabled by Gloat’s AI-powered platform. The Accel team is looking forward to partnering with Gloat on the next stage of its journey, bringing this fundamentally new way of developing talent and managing work to every global enterprise.”