7 Artificial Intelligence Startups in Recruiting
Nanalyze prides itself in providing you with objective analyses of technology and the companies that are at the forefront of developing all of this cool, disruptive tech. But we’re not without our biases. For example, you may detect a certain amount of disdain when we talk about companies or jobs that we feel don’t offer real—or at least substantial—value in the marketplace. That brings us to the ubiquitous Department of Human Resources and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in automating business processes. At best, HR is a necessary evil, like the designated hitter rule in baseball. At worst, well, it’s like having a principal’s office for adults outside your cubicle. So, while we would never cheer seeing anyone sent to the back of the unemployment line, we were quite interested to see how many artificial intelligence recruiting startups are going after Human Resources.
We went on a bit of a rant on this topic in February with the discovery of a popular HR assistant bot named Mya that reputedly uses AI to engage and recruit employees. The company claims that its customers experience a 70 percent drop in the time it takes to hire an employee, while increasing recruiting output by +200% and reducing overhead costs by +80%. That sounds like value to us. Mya uses AI tools like natural language processing to find meaningful info and then holds a real conversation by employing natural language generation. Sounds like a real use of AI to us. Maybe there’s something to this whole “AI in HR” thing after all.
AI-powered Recruitment on the Rise
Investors seem to agree. San Francisco-based Mya Systems, formerly known as FirstJob, took in $11.4 million last month, led by Emergence Capital Partners. That brings total funding to the recruiting startup to $14.4 million. Some of the new investment dollars will help add technical staff and office space, according to an article in TechCrunch.
You’d think that with robots taking all the jobs now, recruiters will become a dying breed. Venture capitalists must think otherwise though, since recruiting is definitely where investment dollars are flowing into startups. In 2016, venture capitalists poured about $863 million into recruiting startups alone, triple the amount in funding from just two years earlier, according to CrunchBase. In fact, 2016 seems like a tipping point, particularly for companies developing AI tools to help with recruitment. That’s not just when Mya hit the workforce. IBM rolled out its own AI-powered recruiting tool for Human Resources called IRIS. The IRIS platform helps HR departments do a little bit of everything—recruiting, marketing and sourcing. Watson can determine just how difficult it will be to fill certain jobs, and even offers analytics on how likely a candidate will be successful. The following startups can do all that and more.
Mya meet RAI, the AI recruiting assistant from Chandler, Arizona startup HiringSolved. The company has taken in $4.5 million to date, including a $3.5 million Seed round two years ago this month. Calling itself “Google for Talent”, HiringSolved recently developed RAI (Recruiting Artificial Intelligence), what the company has called Siri for recruiting. (As you can tell, HiringSolved likes its analogies.) Like Mya (short for my assistant), RAI uses NLP to keep conversation casual and engaging with recruiters scouting new talent. RAI is predicated on HiringSolved’s Google-like TalentFeed search engine.
Among its talents, RAI can provide detailed insights about current employees at companies, including skills, job titles and even gender.
Workey out of Tel Aviv plays both sides of the aisle by helping companies find talent and helping the talent find employment. Its business model has attracted $9.6 million in funding, including an $8 million Series A this month, led by Magma Venture Partners and PICO Partners. That brings total funding to $9.6 million for the recruiting startup. Workey says its AI platform suggests the best candidates for a company based on its requirements, the candidate’s profile and what it calls the company’s DNA. Like any machine-learning software, the more data you feed it, the better it gets at matching employers with prospective employees. In an interview with TechCrunch, Workey’s founders noted the site works a bit like a blind date, as workers remain anonymous at first, helping to prevent any sort of sort of bias that recruiters are supposed to avoid. The company focuses on the tech industry and counts Yahoo as one of its biggest clients. Considering the isht show we’ve seen over at Yahoo over this past decade, let’s hope that they’re doing more poaching than placing.
HireVue also claims AI can help eliminate hiring bias—though algorithms are only as non-prejudiced as the data they feed upon—while also taking a page out of Affectiva’s playbook. The recruiting startup out of South Jordan, Utah (wherever that is) has taken in $93 million over five rounds, with names like Sequoia Capital on the VC roster. It’s even acquired three companies of its own. It uses digital video interviews to weed out the best candidates by applying algorithms to unlock info about a candidate from his or her raw audio, text from speech and micro-expressions. HireVue says that in one test case, it predicted (post-interview) safety infractions based on a three-question interview for a transportation company.
It counts among its customers Vodafone, Nike, Deloitte, Intel, Honeywell and Qantas, according to the HireVue website. Of course, any good sociopath (i.e., probably the CEOs of most of these companies) could probably defeat it. Does this mean that we no longer need recruiting to do those pre-screen interviews for hiring managers? (Rubs hands together gleefully).
HireIQ specializes in helping hire front-line customer service representatives (think of your five call center employee positions not currently in Mumbai) based on the voice of the candidate. The startup out of Alpharetta, Georgia (where?) has raised $4.43 million for that trick, most recently assuming $1 million in debt financing in August 2015. The centerpiece of its technology platform is its (patent pending) Audiolytics platform. Following an online recorded interview, an algorithm automatically scores each candidate’s interview. Recruiters then follow-up with the best candidates. The company says Audiolytics identifies candidates who exhibit energy, enthusiasm and personality in their voice. So you could end up with this guy on your payroll:
Don’t call us, we’ll call you eventually. That could be the motto of Restless Bandit, a San Francisco startup that has raked in $10 million. An undisclosed venture round in March means the company added even more cash. It took in $8 million in October 2016, led by GGV Capital and Toba Capital. Its brand of AI in HR recruiting is based on finding candidates—hidden gems, diamonds in the rough, you get the idea—who didn’t make the cut the first time. Its Talent Rediscovery algorithms continuously search through a company’s applicant tracking system (ATS) to find resumes that match current open positions. It then sends an email to the recruiter, alerting him or her to the potential candidate. The platform also keeps the ATS up to date by searching for a candidate’s latest social profile data. Finally, it pesters encourages candidates to apply by automatically sending email reminders and even putting ads on their Facebook feeds. Because, you know, everyone loves that sort of creepy attention.
Another startup out of San Francisco that uses AI in HR recruiting to mine a company’s ATS, Entelo also uses algorithms and other software tools to build a database of more than 300 million profiles by scouring every social media platform in existence. That diligence has brought it $20.68 million in equity funding, including a $12 million Series B in May 2016, let by Shasta Ventures, which also participated in a $3.5 million Series A in 2013. Here’s the company’s infomercial if you have 1 minute of your life you don’t need.
The AI part of this helps recruiters identify candidates who are more likely to change jobs or check particular boxes for hiring diversity based on candidates’ social media profiles. Of course, Entelo isn’t the only company out there mining social media to learn more about you.
Words matter. That’s the theory that drives Seattle-based Textio, a recruiting startup that has raised $9.5 million in equity funding. And, trust us, HR folks need all the help they can get when it comes to writing a job posting. Textio’s machine-learning platform uses NLP to analyze millions of job listings and hiring outcomes to find patterns that cause some posts to succeed and others to fail. The company claims that including certain words can bias a job ad, particularly when it comes to gender. For example, the word “manage” tends to attract more male applicants.
The startup says that its customers—including names like Apple, Microsoft and Cisco—that score high on its “augmented writing platform” recruit people that are 25 percent more qualified with 23 percent more women — and they do it 17 percent faster than the competition.
We certainly had our doubts that AI would provide much value in HR. But these seven recruiting startups represent more than $150 million in investments, so perhaps somebody wiser than us thinks otherwise. And we haven’t even covered the startups developing AI tools to disrupt other parts of the HR process, let alone the additional companies crowding the recruiting startup space. Maybe HR is getting smarter, after all.
While NLP is now mainstream, there's plenty of growth left to be had. Four of the five AI stocks we're holding are SaaS businesses selling AI-powered enterprise software. Become a Nanalyze Premium annual member and get immediate access to our entire tech stock portfolio.