Market Watch for Talent & HR November 2021

Hello, and welcome back to my Blog!

Executive Summary

VC investments in HR Technology are skyrocketing. To date, HR Tech startups have collected more than $9.2B in VC funding and the HR Technology market has more than 21K startups offering a wide range of solutions across the talent lifecycle powered by AI, data analytics and machine learning.

SAP launched its new talent marketplace offering, joining the competitive internal mobility market joining the club with ICIMS, Gloat, Degreed, Phenom, Cornerstone, and others. Workday launched its talent marketplace in 2020 to expand HCM services + people mobility and this month they launched “Peakon Employee Voice”.  Let’s see how the market evolves and how HR technology vendors develop and integrate different offerings across the end-to-end talent journey.

LinkedIn is opening a new front in the job market for freelancers and Microsoft is not staying behind with this boom in HR technology and is bringing Avatars to make meetings more interacting and creating a partnership with Meta. Cornerstone launched “Cornerstone Xplor” offering a holistic people experience including skill platform, learning experience platform, talent marketplace, and career pathways.

360 learning raised $200M to expand and revolutionize learning content creation. Skyhive raised $40M to scale and improve offerings. Payroll, HR, and workforce management vendors such as Rippling, Deel, and When I Work raised $250M, $425M and $200M respectively to expand services, sales, and product development. Merge, Karat, Aware, and Crossbeam also received capital funding.

Udemy went public and follows other learning content platforms that went public this year such as Coursera ($4.3B), Nerdy ($1.7B), and Skillsoft ($1.5B). Coursera introduced LevelSets proficiencies test to help employees to identify gaps and prepare for specific roles and recently launched its “Leadership Academy”.

Gusto, a payroll and HR platform, acquired Remote Team and Greenhouse, a hiring platform, acquired sourcing information provider, Interseller.

Market Insights

Venture Capital Funding

  • 360Learning, a learning collaboration platform, raised $200M. According to the news, 360Learning plans to use the investment to hire more people, expand to new markets and make some acquisitions. 
    • The platform lets employees to learn from peers, and create, collaborate, and share courses with your network and teams.  The company’s customers used the platform for employee onboarding, software, and sales training.
    • 1,500 companies are currently using 360Learning, such as Pizza Hut, Dannon, Toyota, Airbus, Lego, LVMH, Aircall, and Mitsubishi.
    • The platform allows employees to create its own content in minutes, and everyone can contribute making learning more engaging.
    • Impact: The corporate learning market is also booming with learning systems, experience platforms, content providers and data on supply and skills to new skill employees. Organizations like 360Learnings, Udemy and Fuse Universal are creating a new category: “The Instagram of Learning” platform-view to let employees and SMEs to create, update and consume content quickly to share it with communities of learners.
  • Skyhive, a leading new skilling platform, announced that they raised $40M in series B funding. This capital will be used to expand its customer base, build partnerships and R&D efforts, and grow the company’s sales and marketing teams.
    • SkyHive clients include many of the world’s top companies and governments. Relevant clients include Unilever, Walmart, and World Economic Forum.
    • Skyhive’s most relevant use cases include workforce quantum labor analysis, reskilling and skill matching/gap assessment.
    • Impact: organizations are leading the movement to new skill the workforce. Skyhive is playing a key role in this effort by providing quantum labor analysis, identify skill gaps, trends, and match employees with learning resources. See news HERE.
  • When I Work, a messaging, scheduling, and workforce management platform design for hourly workers, raised $200M. The investment will be used for business development, and to expand its product. When I Work claims that its app is being used by 10 million hourly workers in the U.S. across some 200,000 businesses, with a focus on smaller businesses and franchises.
    • Impact: Workforce Management is getting a lot of traction in the market. Players such as Paycor, UKG, Quinyx, Rippling, Deel are enhancing their platforms with new offerings to address full time as well as hourly and part time worker’s needs to improve collaboration, engagement, and productivity. See news HERE.
  • Rippling, a payroll and workforce platform, raised $250M in series C funding. This new round brings the company’s total funding to $450M; giving Rippling an estimated valuation of $6.5B. The company has different lines of revenue streams providing services that ranges from payroll to benefits, learning, talent management, and device management. Lastly but not least, Rippling also launched “Rippling Unity” to connect HR systems to create employee graphs. See news HERE.
  • Deel, a payroll and compliance platform, raised $425M in series D funding, giving the company an estimated valuation of $5.5B. The company claims they can help organizations to hire employees and contractors, without a local entity, in 150 countries in minutes. See news HERE. 
  • Merge, an integration platform, raised $15M in series A funding. The company’s vision is to become a leading player for B2B integrations. Currently its focus is on HR, payroll, accounting and recruiting, featuring about 50 integrations. See news HERE.
  • Karat, a technical interviewing platform, raised $110M in series C funding, giving the company an estimated valuation of $1.1B. See news HERE. 
  • Aware, a data governance and collaboration analytics platform, raised $60M in series C funding.  See news HERE.
  • Crossbeam, a partnership data integration platform, raised $76M in series C funding. See news HERE.

New Offerings & Partnerships

  • LinkedIn announced that they are extending its services and opening a new front in the job market for freelancers. This new service expansion shows how LinkedIn is going for a broader market in respose of market trends and client demands. 
    • LinkedIn is the largest professional network with nearly 800 million members in more than 200 countries worldwide with over 55 million registered companies.
    • Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for an estimated price of $ 26.2B in 2016. LinkedIn acquired employee engagement platform Glint in 2018.
    • Impact: The Talent Marketplace segment is exploding with different vendors coming from different angles to solve the problem of moving people at scale while creating personalized learning pathways.  This a very dynamic market and most likely we will see the HCM platforms and other bigger players jumping in for a piece of market share. See news HERE.
  • Microsoft announced that its bringing Mesh, a collaborative platform for virtual experiences, directly into Microsoft Teams next year and creating a partnership with Meta:
    • Microsoft Teams is entering the race to bring 3D avatars to make meetings more interactive. The Avatar can represent you in 2D and 3D meetings if you are feeling like turning your webcam off. Microsoft uses AI to listen to your voice and animate your avatar! See news HERE.
    • Microsoft is integrating Microsoft Teams into Meta (Facebook) Workplace. This partnership will allow employees using Teams or Workplace to view, comment, and react to meetings in real time without having to switch between apps. See news HERE.
  • Cornerstone, a leading talent management organization, launched its AI-driven platform Cornerstone Xplor offering a holistic people experience including skill platform, learning experience platform, talent marketplace, and career pathways.
    • In August the company was acquired by Clear Lake with an estimated valuation of $5,2B. Cornerstone serves over 6,000 customers and 75M users and is available in 180 countries and 50 languages.
    • Impact: Cornerstone is combining and integrating different offering services that are currently provided by several HR Tech organizations in the new skilling, internal mobility and learning experience space. This move is reflecting a tendency in the market of the rise of end-to-end talent intelligence platforms to consolidate multiple offerings powered by AI.  See news HERE.
  • Workday launched new features for a better experience and provide employee actionable insights:
    • Workday Experience: Employees can quickly access Workday in their natural flow of work, without having to toggle between different applications. Employers can use “Workday Everywhere” to deliver a simple and connected experience that improves employee productivity and engagement. See news HERE.
    • Workday Peakon Employee Voice: platform that enables employee listening at scale by using AI & Machine learning to understand and analyze employee data to provide recommendations and actions. See news HERE.
  • Coursera, one of the largest learning platforms, introduced LevelSets proficiencies test to help employees to identify gaps and prepare for specific roles.  To start off, Coursera launched 20 LevelSets for high-demand skills. This announcement follows the launch of Leadership Academy in Aug 2021. See news HERE. 
  • SAP introduced SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace to recommend mentorships, learning and networking opportunities to provide opportunities for employee development. SAP follows Workday brining a new offering for the talent mobility market. Last month ICIMs also entered this market and Gloat launched its new organizational agility offering. See news HERE.
  • Paycor, a HCM platform provider, who recently went public in July with an estimated valuation of $4.8B; released a new employee predictive analysis functionality within its Paycor analytics tool. According to the press release, these new capabilities will allow customers to identify at-risk employees, employee attrition, and factors driving resignations.  This new capability is the result of the partnership with Visier. See news HERE.


  • Gusto, a payroll and HR platform, acquired Remote Team, a startup that focuses on supporting far-flung staff. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. See news HERE.
  • Greenhouse, a hiring platform, acquired sourcing information provider, Interseller. According to the press release with this acquisition Greenhouse will provide its customers the ability to do talent sourcing from Greenhouse. See news HERE.

Organizations Public Debut

  • Udemy one of the biggest learning content platforms began its Wall Street debut with an estimated valuation of $4B. Udemy follows other learning content platforms that went public this year; Coursera ($4.3B), Nerdy ($1.7B), and Skillsoft ($1.5B). 
    • Udemy’s platform serves more than 35 million users; relevant clients include Walt Disney, Apple, Unicef, PayPal, Tata Inc., Samsung, Unilever.  
    • Udemy launched Udemy Business Pro in Sept 2021 and recently acquired CorpU, a cohort-based learning provider for leaders and executives. 
    • Impact: The acquisition of CorpU expands Udemy’s footprint and they keep disrupting the market with online course creation where anyone can teach and/or find the right expert/instructor to help individuals to develop new skills. This exponential growth and opportunity are due to the demands of remote and new learning experience because of the pandemic. 

Relevant Articles

  • Forbes published: 
    • ‘Why Your Future Interview or Job May Be in The Metaverse”. See article HERE.
  • The Verge published: 
    • “Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings”. See article HERE.
  • Harvard Business Review published: 
    • “Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of PepsiCo, on Nurturing Talent in Turbulent Times”. See article HERE.
  • Pitchbook published: 
    • “VC investment in HR tech skyrockets as opportunities abound”. See article HERE.


  • Cornerstone Convergence 2021: event organized by Cornerstone; Nov 16-17. Register HERE.
  • Spark Live 2021: event organized by Beamery; Nov 16-17. Register HERE.
  • Shaping a Data-Driven, People-Centric Future of Work: event organized by Humanyze; Nov 18. Register HERE.
  • The Workforce Agility Conference: event organized by Gloat; Dec 1-2, 2021. Register HERE.
  • Empower HR Summit: event organized by BetterWorks; Dec 1-2, 2021. Register HERE.
  • Phenom AI Day: event organized by Phenom; Dec 9, 2021. Register HERE.

Art of the Possible

  • “Chinese electric vehicle-maker Xpeng plans to mass produce flying cars by 2024”; reported by Insider. See video HERE.
  • War dogs are coming; reported by TechCrunch. See video HERE.
  • What is the Metaverse; reported by The Wall Street Journal. See video HERE.
  • Watch Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dogs Recreate Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’ song. See video HERE.

More to come! Stay tuned.

Note: All views expressed on this article do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. My opinions are my own.

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Albert Loyola

Artificial Intelligence | Employee Experience| HR Transformation| Advisor| Speaker

Albert brings global market research experience  to help executives harness intelligent technologies, reinvent HR, re-skilling and employee experience across NAR, APAC, LATAM and EMEA regions.

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