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Why We Invested in Evolv

Today Evolv, the leading provider of science-based talent matching and talent intelligence solutions, announced a $15.75M Series C round of investment led by GGV Capital and existing investors Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.   I thought I would provide a bit of background information on why we’re so excited about Evolv.

Why’d we invest?

Two key reasons.  First, Evolv has the three main ingredients we look for in a great investment:  a GREAT team, a BIG (huge) market, and an EXCELLENT business model.  Secondly, there is a broader trend here that we at GGV have been betting on for several years, and Evolv is a shining example of our thesis:

Emerging SaaS platforms driving data and analytics driving increased revenue and profitability.  For these platforms, the data is as important / more important than the base software functionality.

Who else is employing this model?

Since early 2010, our firm has invested in a number of high-growth companies which fit this profile, Evolv being the latest.  Others include BlueKai (platform + data for the Internet ad market), Conviva (platform + data for digital media distribution), and Buddy Media (platform + data for social media marketing).   All of these companies have terrific technology, core IP, and rabid customers who rave about their offerings.

Perhaps the most well-known platform of this type is Omniture, which revolutionized the market for web analytics, changed the way companies do business on the Internet, and eventually was acquired by Adobe for $1.8B in the Fall of 2009.

Evolv is doing for the talent market (employers and employees) what Omniture did for web analytics – using science and data to optimize the continuous cycle.  For employers, this drives massive improvements in profitability and employee satisfaction.  For employees, it ultimately creates a better job market (less time pursuing the wrong jobs, more success in the right jobs).

Back to Evolv

It’s about Team.  Beyond investing in this thesis, we are huge fans of Max Simkoff (CEO of Evolv), his cofounder Jim Meyerle, and the rest of the Evolv management team.  As readers of this blog know, at GGV when we make a bet, our bet is squarely on the CEO and his/her team – we aren’t betting on a sector and assuming we’ll figure out the team later.  In this case, we were fortunate to be able to get to know Max and his team over the course of 9 months and watch them execute against an ambitious and visionary plan.  Prior to meeting Max, we also had the pleasure of watching Evolv VP Sales Jeff Bieller make a huge impact during his tenure at SuccessFactors (a GGV portfolio company), one of the most successful SaaS companies in the history of the industry.

Evolv is going after a massive market.  In the US alone, companies that employ hourly workers spend an estimated $540B per year on recruiting.  The leaders in the staffing and recruiting industry generate approximately $30B in annual revenue.  Online job boards represent several billion dollars more in transaction volume.  Net/net, it’s still early and I can’t tell you I know exactly how big Evolv’s market opportunity is, but I believe it’s many, many, many billions of dollars.  I’ll take that opportunity any day.

For more information on how Evolv’s technology works – and the science behind it – visit Evolv’s website.  Ultimately, Evolv is all about helping employers make the right decisions on which people to hire, enabling those hires to be successful, and then creating a continuous feedback loop on performance to refine and improve the hiring process.  For a parallel on what this looks like in the tech industry, read the recent NY Times piece on what Laszlo Bock, Google VP People Operations (and Board member at Evolv), and his team are accomplishing at Google.

We’re fired up to be a part of Evolv, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Max and his team.

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