Over the past decade, the day-to-day responsibilities of so-called chief people officers (CPOs) have expanded dramatically. The role has evolved from an administrative HR function to a more strategic position, shining a spotlight on the importance of retention, talent and recruitment, particularly during the pandemic crisis. But despite the increased interest — the CPO is the third-fastest growing C-level position, according to LinkedIn — CPOs often lag behind sales, marketing and customer executives in terms of approaches to analyzing data.
Aiming to effect change, entrepreneur Joseph Kwan founded Knoetic, which is designed to provide insights into metrics such as attrition, diversity and headcount growth. Knoetic integrates with HR systems to allow CPOs to run analytics and automatically generate reports, and the platform also provides recommendations on how to improve employee retention if it detects a problem with turnover.
Knoetic today raised $36 million in a Series B round led by EQT Ventures in partnership with Accel and Menlo Ventures. More than 200 angel investors contributed, including CPOs from Bill.com, Zapier, Box and Calm.
“We’re not building an analytics tool or another tired community — we’re building a second brain, a cybernetic augmentation that gives CPOs superpowers … we envision it like Salesforce built the first, early cloud customer relationship management system,” Kwan said. Technology Flow via email, framing Knoetic’s mission in decidedly elevated terms. “[We’re] Continue to educate every CPO that data and analytics are essential to earning respect as the next generation of people leaders.
The Knoetic platform can integrate with human resources information systems, applicant tracking systems, and performance and learning management apps, with emerging trends across the organization. At one point, Knoetic said it was exploring machine learning models to predict drivers of attrition and turnover, employees who were successful or rapidly promoted, and employees who became central to their departments’ success.
Knoetic’s customers also get access to a forum called CPOHQ, where they can discuss HR-specific topics such as budget planning and immigration policies online and in person at dinners, workshops and summits. CPOHQ also hosts documents with best practices and playbooks contributed by a community of more than 2,000 CPOs.
Knoetic counts Credit Karma, Tranquility, Checker, Mural and Sync among its clients, and although Kwon didn’t disclose an exact number, he said it’s grown 500% year-over-year. The startup’s war chest sits at about $50 million as Knoetic prepares to add about a dozen people to its 50-person workforce.
“Knoetic was originally founded out of the pandemic, which served as a major tailwind to the company’s growth. CPOs used Knoetic’s qualitative and quantitative tools to navigate the tough people challenges of the pandemic. The broader technology slowdown only reinforced the need for solutions to support the strategic HR function,” Kwon said. We have several years of runway with our current burn.”
Notic also benefits from the view that HR tech is a safe bet even during a recession. Data from WorkTech shows that VC investment for H1 2022 puts the year on track to meet or exceed the $17.9 billion record set in 2021, while Q2 was the fourth-largest quarter in the HR sector with $4.6 billion invested.