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Talent.com raises $120M to take on Indeed and ZipRecruiter in mass-market job search

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Online recruitment was one of the early and big hits of the first dot-com boom. But with more and more business processes moving online, online job search is the gift that keeps on giving, and so today comes news of another portal in the space raising a big round to take on the incumbents in the space with more innovative and accurate technology. Talent.com — a portal that aggregates both job ads posted directly by recruiters as well as ads from third-party recruitment sites — has picked up $120 million, a Series B round of funding that it will be using to continue expanding internationally, to invest further in its programmatic search platform and to introduce new products and service for users.

Talent.com has a pretty international profile — it currently lists around 30 million jobs from 1 million companies across 78 countries and 29 languages and sees more than 28 million monthly active visitors across that footprint — but the startup itself is based out of Montreal and this round is being led by Canadian VC Inovia Capital, with previous backer Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), and new investors Investissement Québec, Climb Ventures, BDC Capital, Fondaction, and HarbourVest Partners, also participating. Alongside the $120 million in equity, it has also raised $30 million in new debt financing from the Technology & Innovation Banking Group at BMO Financial Group.

Talent.com’s co-founder and co-CEO Lucas Martínez, who co-founded the company with Maxime Droux and Benjamin Philion, said in an interview that the aim is to use the funding to build more tech to help consumers see results more relevant to what they are looking for; and to make Talent.com the platform more attractive to employers, with tools to measure the responsiveness of ads and to charge them based on what gets people clicking.

(The company itself knows a little something first-hand about having the right wording to get people interested in content: the startup used to be called Neuvoo, Finnish for “Advise”, and while it was profitable it wasn’t growing very fast, in part because it found that many people stumbled on how to pronounce the word and that its meaning wasn’t particularly relevant to the mass market. So when Neuvoo decided to rethink its name in 2019 and saw that Talent.com was up for sale, it jumped at it and rebranded. It paid $1.3 million for the domain, although mysteriously the rest of the details are under NDA for three years, so it’s unclear who was doing the selling. Martínez laughed and said no when I asked if it was Google, but didn’t elaborate any further.)

It is also investing the funding in more international expansion. Martínez spoke to me from Barcelona, where the company is setting up a new European hub.

Some of the big players in the market today include Indeed.com — owned Japan’s HR giant  Recruit Holdings, which itself is valued at around $66 billion and owns other brands like SimplyHired — ZipRecruiter, which went public last year; LinkedIn; and the search giant Google. But there are a number of startups going head-to-head today with these more established players, leveraging new technology and changing expectations from the market to introduce new competitive battlefronts.

Some like Deel and Remote are positioning themselves as platforms to help hire remote employees; others like Turing are taking the remote concept and focusing it on sourcing a specific talent pool: engineers. SmartRecruiters has ambitions to be the “Salesforce” of recruitment, an ambition others like Beamery are also chasing. Dover is borrowing a concept from another enterprise field (its buzzword is orchestration) in its recruitment platform. And Jobandtalent, Workstream, and Fountain all have business models to target casual, gig and hourly workers.

Talent.com, like the latter three, is largely targeting markets that include hourly and gig workers, as well as skilled labor. Alongside its programmatic approach to job ads, its other tools for employers include the ability to integrate their existing applicant tracking systems and CRMs. On the consumer side, users are given the ability, in addition to basic job search, to do salary research, to calculate salary after deducting tax in their locale, and to answer profile questions to better tailor their search results. This will also pave the way for how the product will develop in the future.

“This is crucial,” said Martínez. “The job search is aspirational. Many are not qualified for the jobs they are applying for. So we are combining experience and education, and guiding users to what they should do so if they want to become, say, an engineer. We will know who you are and have your CV on our platform and we’ll say, these are the educational programs in that area online. This is where we will provide a lot more value to our user.”

It’s the play for a wider set of services to drive more revenue from users that piqued investors’ interest.

“The race for talent has only been accentuated by the significant challenges that businesses are facing right now. Talent.com has rapidly grown to become one of the largest and most international platforms for employers to source and recruit”, says Chris Arsenault, partner at Inovia Capital, in a statement. “This partnership is prompting a new phase of growth as they launch a suite of value-added products to become a true job-seeker-centric platform.”

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