15Five — an early mover in the world of building technology to help motivate teams, and to improve performance management for execs overseeing those teams — has raised $52 million in a round of growth funding that it will be using to expand its own performance.
Now in use at some 3,400 companies — customers include Credit Karma, Spotify and Pendo, with its sweet spot specifically on businesses with between 100 and 2,500 employees — the startup will double down on what David Hassell, the CEO and founder of 15Five, describes as not just as providing insights, but also outcomes, ushering in a wider move into areas like coaching and education to expand a platform that today is used to help track and set goals for teams and individuals in them.
“We’re going to continue to innovate and focus on the things that actually produce the results,” he said.
Quad Partners — a specialist investor focusing on in education and “workforce” technology — is leading this round, with Edison Partners, Next47, Origin Ventures, Matrix Partners, Point Nine Capital, and New Ground Ventures also participating. Hassell said the startup was not disclosing valuation. Prior to this it had raised around $42 million, with its last round pre-pandemic, a Series B of $30.7 million in 2019.
The intervening years since that last round have been a big fillip to 15Five and its mission as a company. Specifically, Covid-19 and its impact on how people work, and their productivity, under new circumstances such as working remotely, have put a spotlight on how organizations manage those teams, and how workers are impacted by those new conditions. Tools like 15Five’s found themselves in an interesting position: whereas previously some might have considered tech to help shape and work towards goals as potentially nice to have, in the absence of being able to see and work with teams in person, those tools suddenly tool on an essential role. In the best-scenarios, where the tools themselves are solid and used well, for managers, they gave them important insights into how people were doing; for workers, it helped them identify and give shape to what they were doing and where they were going, and wanted to go in their jobs.
“It has been very interesting to see how the whole world has kind of come in our direction and how things have evolved to because when we first started,” Hassell told me. In the beginning, his mission was to solve a problem for, as he put it, “CEOs and managers because HR was more administrative at that time.”
Nowadays, HR has become significantly more complex and the legacy tools that HR teams have used have really started to get reassessed, opening the door to companies like 15Five bringing more functionality and scope to their work.
“We are now, I think, probably the only HR tech platform that was built atop a powerful manager platform because that’s what we started out building,” he said.
There are any number of enterprise software companies in the market today that are addressing the challenges in HR, enterprise training and education, and performance management, but what makes 15Five unique among them is how it is integrating all of these, and how it’s doing it first and foremost from the perspective of performance management, which is a subtle but important distinction as it informs how, say, educational and training tools are built and incorporated, and to what end. It also opens the scope very interestingly into how the tech can evolve.
“We’ve invested a lot in the education space and in businesses that help human beings at every age become empowered and ultimately feel fulfilled,” said Connor O’Keefe, principal at Quad Partners, in a statement. “Education and personal growth doesn’t stop when you get your four-year degree. It’s a natural extension for us to help companies facilitate professional development in other organizations by assessing people, training managers, and being able to make rapid improvements in individual and business performance. What was compelling to us, and led to our investing in 15Five, is its cohesive mission and vision. Personal growth is at the crux of everything 15Five does.”