Latest unicorn sighting in Seattle: SeekOut lands $115M to expand recruiting software

SeekOut employees. (SeekOut Photo)

The news: Seattle-area startup SeekOut just landed an additional $115 million to propel its valuation past $1 billion, earning it the coveted unicorn label.

The tech: SeekOut’s software is used by more than 1,000 companies such as UiPath and Experian to help with recruiting. It pulls data on more than 700 million potential candidates from a myriad of sources, including GitHub and published papers. The software also features built-in diversity filters at a time when companies are looking to accelerate DEI efforts. The global HR and recruitment market is expected to reach $772 billion this year.

The momentum: The company’s annual recurring revenue has tripled over the past nine months, and is in the $25-to-$50 million range. The fresh funding follows a big 2021 for SeekOut, which raised $65 million in March and won Startup of the Year honors at the Mekhato Awards this past May.

The future: SeekOut CEO and co-founder Anoop Gupta said the startup plans to use the new funding to launch products that focus on a company’s existing employees, not just prospective ones. SeekOut is hoping to ride workforce trends such as the ongoing talent war in tech and “The Great Resignation,” with more people quitting their jobs.

“We feel that too many enterprises are flying blind when it comes to building and maintaining their workforces,” Gupta said. “They don’t have the tools and resources to understand who they have, what employees did in the past, what they can do now, what their potential is to succeed — a lot of the data is siloed and just captured in systems of record.”

The people: Gupta is a former technical assistant to Bill Gates who previously led Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group. His co-founders include CTO Aravind Bala, a former Microsoft partner engineering manager who worked on products including Bing and Office, and Vikas Manocha and John Tippett, who both also worked at Microsoft. SeekOut tripled headcount last year and now employs 120 people.

The investors: Tiger Global Management led the Series C round. It also led the Series B round. Other investors include Madrona Venture Group and Mayfield. The company is now valued at $1.2 billion, more than double its valuation in March 2021.

The unicorn club: SeekOut is the latest to join the growing list of privately held Seattle-area startups that have passed the $1 billion valuation mark. Other recent $1 billion companies include Karat, Amperity, Highspot, Zenoti, and Rec Room. There are more than 900 unicorns globally, and more than half reached the $1 billion milestone in 2021, according to CB Insights.

The journey: SeekOut is not an overnight success. The company actually began as Nextio, a professional messaging service formerly known as Telo that Gupta and Bala founded. The service never took off but a career insights feature inside Nextio ended up leading to the creation of SeekOut.

Asked about advice for other founders and entrepreneurs, Gupta said it’s important to keep an open mind when building a company. “Listening is more important than talking,” he noted.

He also said establishing a mission-driven workforce built on a collaborative spirit — and keeping humility in mind — is key.

“Building that culture from the very beginning, from every hire that you have, is really important,” Gupta said.

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