Over the past decade, so-called Chief People Officers (CPOs) have seen a dramatic expansion of their day-to-day responsibilities. The role has evolved from an administrative HR function to a more strategic position, particularly as the pandemic has highlighted the importance of retention, upskilling and recruitment during a crisis. But despite the increased interest — CPO is the third-fastest growing C-level position, according to LinkedIn CPOs often lag behind sales, marketing and customer executives in their approach to data analysis.
Aiming to effect change, entrepreneur Joseph Kwan founded Knoetic, a platform 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 it also provides recommendations such as how to improve employee retention if the platform identifies a problem with turnover.
Knoetic today raised $36 million in a Series B round led by EQT Ventures with participation from Accel and Menlo Ventures. More than 200 angel investors contributed, including the CPOs of 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 superpowers to CPOs … We envision ourselves akin to Salesforce building the first, early cloud customer relationship management system,” Quan told TechCrunch via email that Knoetic’s mission is formulated in precisely advanced terms. “[We’re] Continue to educate every CPO that they need data and analytics to gain respect as the next generation of public leaders.”
The Knoetic platform can integrate with human resources information systems, applicant tracking systems and performance and learning management apps, surfacing trends across the organization. At one point, Knoetic claimed that they were exploring machine learning models to predict drivers of attrition and turnover, successful or rapidly promoted employees, and employees who became central to their department’s success.
Knoetic’s customers also gain access to a forum, 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 hosts documents including best practices and playbooks contributed by a community of over 2,000 CPOs.
Knoetic counts Credit Karma, Calm, Checker, Mural and Sync among its clients, and while Kwan didn’t disclose exact figures, he said it grew 500% year over year. The startup’s war chest stands at about $50 million as Knoetic prepares to add about a dozen people to its 50-person workforce.
“Knoetic was actually founded out of the pandemic, which served as a major tailwind for the company’s growth. CPOs leveraged Knoetic’s qualitative and quantitative tools to navigate the difficult human challenges of the pandemic. The widespread technology downturn has only reinforced the need for solutions to support a strategic HR function,” said Quan. “We have several years of runway with our current burn.”
Noetic also benefits from the realization that HR technology remains a safe bet even during downturns. data 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 for the HR sector with $4.6 billion invested.