Not long ago, remote work was a disruptive new phenomenon of the modern working world; today, it’s a standard component of nearly every industry, and the traditional office space has been transported to anywhere in the world with access to a laptop and an internet connection. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the already trending remote work movement has accelerated sharply, subsequently altering the conversation around productivity best practices, team structures, workplace culture, and business models.
Behind all of this is the robust and growing industry of online tools, technology, and infrastructure that powers the evolution of remote workforces across sectors.
Several players report triple digit growth driven by demand for infrastructure tools amidst the pandemic:
Deel reported in August 2020 that it has recorded a 200% growth in its customer base and a 600% increase in revenue since the start of the pandemic.
Happeo reported that its platform recorded 280% year-over-year (YoY) growth in Q1 2020, with average daily messages sent on the platform increasing to 2.5 million from 500,000.
Winningtemp claims its usage grew 300% during the first three weeks of Covid-19 related lockdowns.
Driven by pandemic tailwinds, industry players, especially in the EoR/PEOs space receive significant financial backing:
Hibob raised USD 70 million in a Series B funding in December 2020.
ActivTrak raised USD 50 million in a Series B funding in November 2020.
Papaya Global raised USD 40 million in Series B funding in September 2020.
Remote raised USD 35 million in Series A funding in November 2020.
Gtmhub raised USD 30 million in a Series B funding in December 2020.
Deel raised USD 30 million in Series B funding in September 2020.
Winningtemp raised USD 18 million in Series B funding in October 2020.
A majority of the incumbents feature in the integrated HRM, payroll, and benefits as well as the integrated performance and engagement segments. This includes large players such as Workday, SAP, Paycom, and Paylocity. With a handful of startups in the growth stage, Microsoft is the only incumbent in the intranet segment. The pure play payroll and benefits segment is occupied by CloudPay and Clune Technology Group and mostly includes early-stage disruptors.
Many disruptors in the integrated HRM, payroll, and benefits segment are quite mature and, therefore, a large contingent is in the growth stage. The integrated performance and engagement segment features the largest group of seed-stage companies, as the use of cloud-based employee engagement and performance software has received increased attention since the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the EOR/PEO segment has the smallest number of startups that are primarily in the growth stage offering contingent workforce management solutions.
Companies in the Integrated HRM, payroll, and benefits segment account for most of the funding in the space. Established companies such as Gusto and Zenefits lead the segment in funding among private players with USD 691 and USD 584 million, respectively. Meanwhile, the integrated performance and engagement segment accounts for the majority of startups. Culture Amp and Personio lead the segment in terms of funding among private companies. Other notable players include EOR/PEO service providers Deel and Remote who raised around USD 400 million in funding between 2020 and 2021. Intranet platforms funding is led by Staffbase and LumApps.
Paycor is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and human capital management firm offering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with talent management, payroll, and HR solutions. It's HR solutions include time and attendance management, scheduling, and employee experience surveys. The talent management offering includes recruiting and onboarding software, while payroll and benefits features include tax processing and documentation, payments and benefits administration. The company operates a subscription-based business model with paid plans starting at USD 99 per month per user. As of April 2021, the company serves more than 40,000 SMEs.
In April 2021, the company announced plans to raise USD 100 million in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq. Paycor’s offering is expected to be 18.5 million shares at a price range of USD 18 - 21 per share. At the midpoint of the price range, Paycor is expected to raise USD 361 million at a market capitalization of USD 3.3 billion.
In FY2021, Paycor reported a GAAP loss per share of USD 0.66, coming in below analyst consensus expectations for a loss per share of USD 0.59. FY2021 revenue rose 7.6% year-over-year (YoY) to USD 352.8 million edging out analyst estimates for revenue of USD 350.7 million. The annual revenue was driven by a 43% YoY increase in total bookings which amounted to USD 115.1 million. Adjusted operating income rose marginally (+3.7%) YoY to USD 47.9 million, while adjusted net income amounted to USD 33.5 million (-4.4% YoY). The company guided FY2022 revenue to be between USD 396.0 million-USD 400.0 million, implying a YoY growth of 12.2%-13.4%. The adjusted operating income was guided to be between USD 30.0 million-USD 32.0 million in FY2022.
Integrated HRM, Payroll, and Benefits Platforms:
Integrated Performance and Engagement Platforms:
The incumbent players in this space are well-established companies that have been providing human capital management (HCM) solutions for decades. All incumbents have a strong track record of establishing fully-fledged offerings. They also offer a diverse range of solutions, with a variety of customizable packages that cater to businesses of all sizes. All incumbents offer a cloud-based solution similar to those that up-and-coming startups offer.
The industry has seen consolidation, with a few large players making key acquisitions, both to solidify and diversify existing business segments as well as to support in-house solutions. Companies such as Automatic Data Processing (ADP), SAP, and Workday have made key acquisitions to strengthen their offerings, with a particular focus on workforce analytics, which has been identified as a new trend in HCM services. Workday has been particularly aggressive in its strategy, acquiring three companies that offer analytics in 2018.
Another focus has been on acquiring companies that cater to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Paychex, for instance, has deployed strong acquisition-driven strategies relative to other players in this area. Conversely, although mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity is relatively mute from the likes of Oracle, they have developed relevant, comprehensive in-house solutions over time. Similarly, Microsoft entered the enterprise intranet space with the launch of “Viva” developed in-house in 2021.
Workday is a US-based software vendor founded in 2005 by the founder of PeopleSoft, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provider later acquired by Oracle. Given the founders’ background, Workday was built to provide enterprise-grade software solutions. The company’s products suit medium and large enterprises and include core solutions for business planning, financial management, human capital management (HCM), and analytics.
Workday operates its payroll and benefits administration through its cloud-based HCM platform. Its benefit plan is relatively flexible and allows users to handle multiple plans for healthcare, insurance, wellness, etc. in a single space integrated with many benefit providers. Currently, Workday’s payroll management is available only in the US, Canada, the UK, and France, although it allows businesses that have remote workers in other locations to integrate the Workday platform with local providers. The company has established partnerships with global payroll providers such as CloudPay and ADP.
Workday also offers analytics to identify and monitor the workforce to track performance, infer employee engagement, and provide feedback. In 2018, Workday acquired Rallyteam, a San Francisco-based startup, for an undisclosed amount. Rallyteam helped businesses match employees to internal projects based on their strengths. The same year, Workday acquired Stories.bi (undisclosed price) and Adaptive Insights (purchase price of USD 1.6 billion). These additions enhanced Workday’s analytics services, which it offers alongside its HCM solution. Further, the company invested in Tidemark, a company which provides performance management solutions, in June 2015.
In 2019, Workday was identified as a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud HCM suites alongside SAP and Oracle HCM Suite, which are competing for large enterprise customers.
In January 2021, Workday announced that it intends to acquire the Danish employee engagement software provider, Peakon, for EUR 577 million (approximately USD 700 million) in cash. The deal is expected to close by the end of Q1 2021.
Founded in 2015, Peakon’s core solutions include real-time performance feedback, the use of structured employee surveys, and key insights on data gathered through the survey process. In addition, the platform offers competitor benchmarking using industry-wide data for employee engagement. Peakon has expanded geographically and has offices in the UK, Germany, and New Zealand, and its total headcount stood at 180 in March 2019. At the time of the acquisition, Peakon had raised total funding of USD 68 million.
The acquisition will strengthen Workday’s offering in the employee engagement and performance management space. The acquisition will complement its human resource management solutions with Peakon’s employee sentiment software, which provides real-time visibility into a workforce’s engagement levels.