HR Tech: Non-Sales Compensation Management
November 3, 2020
Non-sales-focused compensation management is a massive untapped opportunity that I’m extremely excited about (who says HR tech can’t be riveting?!). I thought it may be fun to do a brief memo on the space, so here we are. Read through if you’re interested in learning about the market and a few companies that can help automate this antiquated process, while helping us along on our path to lessen the pay gap.
HR tech represents a $148B global opportunity, and there are more than 1,400 vendors in the market. HR tech companies help businesses address recruiting, hiring, perks, payroll & compensation, productivity, benefits, and culture. While this space is not necessarily the most sexy, the general need for a business to take care of hiring, firing, paying, and keeping its employees happy — that need has been around since Ancient Greece. What continues to shift over time is how all of this work gets done. In the past several years, businesses have been adopting cloud-based technology platforms to handle these needs in a more efficient and (where possible) automated way.
See below for the most recent CB Insights market map I could find, illustrating the many companies involved in this industry in 2016. (Just imagine how many are out there now, 4 years later…)
These HR tech companies have been trying to solve one, many, or all problems related to human resources. One area that’s been relatively unoptimized to date however, and which is now growing in popularity, is the area of non-sales compensation management. (Sales compensation management has seen its fair share of SaaS companies, presumably because sales commissions are processed on a less predictable schedule and are more variable than than non-sales compensation.)
There are a few companies out there now focusing on non-sales compensation management, which we’re seeing for a few different reasons.
First, the general trend of improving business efficiency through automation is now finally affecting this particular area (wherever there are Excel spreadsheets being used to take care of repeated, complex tasks is an area that will get attention soon if it hasn’t already).
Second, pay inequality has had a spotlight shined on it over the past several years, and entrepreneurs are building companies to do something about it. In October 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found full-time working women earn 81.7% as much as their white male counterparts. Median weekly earnings of Blacks ($813) and Hispanics ($785) working full-time jobs were lower than those of Whites ($1,008) and Asians ($1,392). Pay gaps are attributable to many drivers (differences in jobs/industries worked, years of experience, hours, education levels, discrimination), and there are many startups building software to increase transparency around wages to eliminate discrimination as one of them.
Third, with COVID-19 in the mix, things become even more complicated. More and more workers will go remote full-time, and tech companies (Facebook included, with many others expected to follow) will move to adopt the idea of “localized pay”. Twitter, Square, Shopify, Coinbase and Box have all announced permanent work from home policies, so as workers migrate out of expensive cities like San Francisco, their compensation is expected to adjust down to match their new median living costs.
Interesting Companies in the Space
- Zenefits, a well-known SaaS platform to help small and medium-sized businesses manage their human resources founded in 2013, with a focus on helping with health insurance coverage, offers a Compensation Management tool fed by salary data from the hundreds of thousands of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses. Note compensation management is one of Zenefits’ many offerings and not their sole focus. Zenefits was founded in 2013 and has raised over $580M from A16z, Fidelity, and TPG (most recently raising a $500M Series C in May 2015).
- bob, a U.K. and Israel-based global people platform with compensation management software built-in founded in 2015, has raised $45M over 5 rounds from Bessemer and Battery Ventures (most recently raising a $20M Series A in March 2019). The company was founded by Ronni Zehavi (CEO), who has 25+ years of experience leading global SaaS companies, co-founded a couple companies, and is a former EIR at Bessemer, and Israel David (CTO), who has over 20 years of technology and product development experience from companies including Kenshoo, VMware, and HP.
- CURO Compensation, a UK-based compensation management and pay equity platform founded in 2009, raised £1.8M in December 2017 from UK-based Maven Capital Partners. CURO looks to mostly target UK businesses. The company was founded by Gerry O’Neill who has 20+ years of experience running benefits and/or HR solutions businesses.
- Welcome, an offer management and compensation data platform for HR and recruiting teams, raised a $1.4M seed in August 2020 from Ludlow Ventures, the Weekend Fund, Global Founders Capital, and a few others. The company was founded by Nick Gavronsky (CEO), who has held impressive Product roles (Betterment, Slice), is an active mentor in the NYC tech community, and started a coffee subscription company in 2017, and Rick Pereira (Chief People Officer), who seems to bring more of the relevant industry experience with 14+ years of experience within recruiting and HR operations.
- Trove, a suite of tools that helps companies plan and communicate total compensation, graduated from YC in August 2020 and raised a $16 million Series A from A16z with a $75 million post-money valuation. The company was founded by Matthew Schulman, who has 4 years of software engineering experience (2 years at Facebook) and Engineering and Economics undergrad degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.
Trove’s recent fundraise with A16z has somewhat validated that there is a true market opportunity here, and perhaps the beginning of a trend of companies entering the space. I say the more the merrier — let’s make employee compensation easier for businesses to manage and for employees to understand, and let’s make pay fair.