Investing in the Future of Talent Acquisition: Introducing Wade & Wendy to the Converge VP Portfolio
Last week, Wade & Wendy announced $4M in seed funding, becoming Converge VP’s third artificial intelligence investment. Read more about the company and fundraise in Drew’s post “How Artificial Intelligence Will Make Recruiting More Human Again”.
Just 5 years ago, IBM Watson beat Jeopardy experts, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter to become the undisputed champion of the world– an event that would spark another artificial intelligence revolution. Except that this time, it’s different.
As investors focused on emerging technology, we’re following advancements in computing that stretch beyond Jeopardy into the workforce and individuals around the world – notably Andrew Ng’s research at Stanford in 2009, and as part of the Google Brain project in 2012, yielding results in deep learning like parallel processing capability, and more. Breakthroughs in deep learning combined with a wave of open source projects have fueled the current wave of artificial intelligence.
This wave touches the lives of American consumers and the Fortune 500 in a more robust way than the AI waves of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘90s – today, consumers and corporates are adopting forms of artificial intelligence from Siri, to autonomous vehicles. We are seeing companies built today leveraging data that was unattainable five years ago – companies like Wade & Wendy fit this mold, accessing and training data not previously available.
There are a number of technologies these companies are targeting: natural language processing, image recognition, voice detection, deep learning, and many others. The true power of artificial intelligence comes from the compounded data leveraged by these technologies combined with increasing accessibility through intuitive UX/UI for human benefit. Venture Capitalist, Matt Turck of FirstMark Capital coined the term “data network effects”, alluding to the machine’s ability to collect data, and in effect become more intelligent, performing monotonous tasks more accurately and faster. Within the enterprise, workers are using components of artificial intelligence to schedule meetings, automate processes, and will soon have even more functionality as new start-ups build AI solutions for ‘white collar’ tasks.
Large corporations are leading the artificial intelligence charge today, building their own in-house units, investing in and acquiring artificial intelligence startups. Since 2009, artificial intelligence has seen more than $17B invested, and that number continues to grow rapidly as technological breakthroughs continue. Companies are open sourcing AI efforts, opening up APIs, tools, and platforms to developers around the world – IBM, Google, Slack and others embody the shift – just look to Watson’s 7,000 person team. Besides finding the next billion dollar opportunity, artificial intelligence open sourcing efforts are used to attract top developer talent in a increasingly competitive recruiting landscape.
Job recruitment, placement and retention are massive pain points for companies and individuals – the job placement and recruiting industry is massive, and extremely segmented. In 2014, global staffing sales hit $400B (Clennett). Many are ignoring or unable to access data sets created by recruiters, and oft repeated behavior makes the massive industry a prime target for artificial intelligence applications. Acquiring top talent is an extremely competitive game, and recruiting fees between $20,000 and $25,000 per placement are standard (for traditional recruiting models). For companies today, it is more competitive than ever to find, attract and hire qualified talent; and for the applicant it is extremely difficult and time consuming to discover and join market-leading companies. [In a recent study, we asked our portfolio of 42 companies what their biggest pain point was. Not surprisingly, the top result was recruiting top talent. Even in Boston, where loyalty is greater than San Francisco and New York City, companies clearly still struggle to find and hire the right talent..
Currently, HR managers use a mix of software/ personal network to find and place candidates, spending millions of dollars and performing monotonous tasks. Enter Wade and Wendy, an artificial intelligent assistant to help companies recruit and attract top talent. As the company collects applicant data, and places more candidates, it becomes smarter thus saving time and headaches for both candidate and company. The matching engine will become more accurate over time: being able to match candidates with increasing accuracy, and understanding the nuances of attracting, placing and retaining top talent.
Wade & Wendy CEO Drew Austin has lived the inefficiencies and frustrations professional recruiters feel – and is complemented by a team with deep technical roots. The team behind Wade and Wendy is well-positioned to disrupt a massive industry with artificial intelligence. We are proud to back Drew Austin, Josh Brandoff, Ian Jaffrey and Adrian von der Osten alongside Wade and Wendy’s other team members to bring clarity, speed, and savings for companies around the world.
In the coming years, artificial intelligence will complement many tasks, only representing a small slice of our daily lives today – small tasks like checking the weather are low hanging fruit for Siri and other personal assistants. These technologies will continue to expand into the lives of people around the world, in the home, the office, and the factory. The world is just beginning to see value in artificial intelligence, as use cases grow and the data allows more intelligence. In conjunction with adoption, the importance of data as the intelligent component creates the flywheel spurring wider adoption.
We look forward to supporting the Wade & Wendy team alongside Slack, Randstad, ffVC, Rothenberg Ventures, Indicator Ventures, and others in building the future of recruiting. If you want to contribute building the future of recruiting, check out Wade and Wendy’s openings!
Until next time,