January 4, 2022 – Contra, a professional network for independent workers founded by Ben Huffman and Gajust Kuizinas, has secured $30 million in Series B funding, led by NEA, with participation from Unusual Ventures and Cowboy Ventures, both of which invested in Contra’s $14.5 million Series A last year. The latest funding round gives the company just under $45 million in total funding, Mr. Huffman told TechCrunch. Contra provides tools for independent workers to build a professional identity and manage their work from inquiry to project scope discussion to signing a contract to getting paid, all without having to pay upwards of 20 percent of fees that other independent work websites may charge, Mr. Huffman said.
Securing the new funding gives Contra an opportunity to not only work with Ann Bordetsky, partner at NEA, but capitalize on “the crazy amount of user growth post-pandemic,” as more people turned to independent work, Mr. Huffman said. He cited figures that said over 50 percent of people started working independently at the start of the pandemic and more than 1 million people joined Contra to find work or hire talent.
“We have always wanted to roll this out, but wanted to be able to ensure the client pays and there is trust on the network,” he added. “We have users in 139 countries, and while many workers complete successful projects, they don’t get stocks or other benefits, so we want to help them collect on that stored value and make it easier to get paid.”
“Unlike incumbent professional networks designed for the old normal and task-based marketplaces that commoditize independent talent, Ben and Gajus saw an opportunity to build a radically new professional network,” according to a post by NEA, “one fundamentally designed for the unique needs of digitally native, highly skilled independents.”
With many people opting for the flexibility of independent work, NEA’s Ms. Bordetsky said she was intrigued by the trend and spoke with people who all had shared pain points of wanting to work in this way, yet not being satisfied by the existing marketplaces for building careers. She saw that Contra was becoming a resource that “the Gen Z digital worker is excited to use” and how the company leveraged TikTok and other tools to build an audience.
“Ben knows those pain points,” said Ms. Bordetsky. “What was impressive was his creative vision for what the platform could do and also his practical understanding. Ben is the visionary to build this in the space, and NEA supports that Contra is following that trend.”
Here’s a look at some other recent funding deals secured by these companies from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:
Hirewell, a Chicago-based talent acquisition firm, secured an investment of $21 million from Prytek, a global investment firm with expertise in integrating global services firms with cutting-edge technologies. Prytek will provide capital to enable Hirewell to accelerate its organic growth and integrate technology into its managed recruiting services. As part of this investment, Hirewell will acquire ICV, a Tel Aviv-based software company. “The talent acquisition space has evolved significantly over the past ten years, but technology has yet to truly disrupt the industry,” said Matt Massucci, founder and CEO of Hirewell. “Recruiters increasingly rely on multiple platforms, most of which don’t integrate or have limited functionality, and some of which actually compete with the recruiters they claim to support. The ability to combine best-in-class recruiters with cutting-edge technology will equip us to be the ideal recruiting partner for companies that are serious about finding top talent. We are thrilled to partner with Prytek to take that step and continue delivering powerful results to our clients.”
Worksome recently closed a $13 million Series A funding round for its freelance talent platform — after racking up 10x growth in revenue since January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a remote working boom. Founded in 2017, Worksome is an enterprise platform that connects companies with freelancers looking for professional roles. The company helps medium and large companies, working with many freelancers at a time, filling vacancies within teams rather than assisting companies in outsourcing projects. According to Worksome CEO and co-founder Morten Petersen, most enterprises use managed service providers (MSPs) to manage and pay external workers. He said that they use “outdated technology that is not built for managing fluid workforces to handle complex compliance processes around hiring and managing freelance workforces.”
SeekOut, the AI-powered talent 360 platform, has received $65 million in series B funding led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from existing investors Madrona Venture Group and Mayfield. This capital raise brings SeekOut’s total funding to $73 million. This funding round values SeekOut at close to half a billion dollars. SeekOut’s growth and expansion has been driven by the critical role it plays in empowering talent acquisition teams to recruit hard-to-find and diverse talent. SeekOut has consistently received high scores and strong reviews in analyst and customer assessments.
GoodJob, a platform that aims to use psychology and data science to match workers with jobs, recently raised $3 million to increase marketing and sales efforts in major markets across the U.S. “GoodJob’s solution is ideal for today’s market,” said Stephen D. Johnston, CEO of GoodJob. “Prior to an interview and without introducing bias, employers can quickly assess a candidate’s fit on the front end of the hiring process,” said Mr. Johnston. “This approach allows companies to spend time only on candidates who have a high probability of success, which significantly impacts hiring efficiency, especially as companies move to no-touch hiring practices.”
Turing.com, which describes itself as an automated platform that enables companies to use and manage remote software developers, has assembled $32 million Series B funding. The capitalization round was led by $3.3 billion fund WestBridge Capital. The round includes a number of high-profile investors, including Foundation Capital, which led Turing’s seed round. Altair Capital, Mindset Ventures, Frontier Ventures and Gaingels also participated in the Series B round. Driven by the massive global shift to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Turing taps into a global pool of developers to help companies hire in markets such as the San Francisco Bay Area and New York, where it has been difficult and expensive to hire and retain software engineers.
The Mom Project, a talent marketplace, closed a $25 million series B funding round, bringing total funding at the Chicago-based company to $36 million. The Mom Project aims to connect women, including mothers, with employment opportunities. Its platform has amassed more than 275,000 users and more than 2,000 companies, including brands like Apple, Nike, Gap and BP. “Together we’ve proven that hiring, retaining and supporting moms and caregivers isn’t just a nice thing to do — it’s great for business,” said Allison Robinson, founder and CEO. “We’re in a unique moment in time where companies are embracing flexible work and prioritizing inclusion, and are excited to rapidly accelerate our efforts to unlock the potential of moms in the workplace. Our latest round of funding will help expand our Enterprise product suite, build out our mom community engagement strategy and engage with more small business customers.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media