HR tech startup Sense valued at $500 million in SoftBank Vision Fund 2-led funding – TechCrunch

Sense, an HR tech startup that helps some of the world’s largest staffing and recruitment agencies timely find and hire talent, has grown its valuation to $500 million in a new financing round, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
The San Francisco-headquartered startup has raised $50 million in its Series D financing round, it said. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the financing round, pushing the five-and-a-half-year-old startup’s to-date raise to $90 million. The multiple-fold surge in the valuation comes just six months after Sense closed its Series C round, TechCrunch has learned.
Sense focuses on catering to the blue-collar workers and helps firms manage the talent’s entire lifecycle at the firm.
Hiring knowledge workers may take up to six months, but in “this world, where you’re hiring a warehouse packager, companies need him or her to join today,” explained Anil Dharni, co-founder and chief executive of Sense, in an interview with TechCrunch. He declined to comment on the valuation.
The vast majority of professional social networks and other recruitment platforms are currently designed to serve knowledge workers, he said. “But for people like Uber drivers and Amazon warehouse workers, such platforms are not relevant,” he said, describing the challenge.
The startup, which says it uses automation, artificial intelligence, and personalization in its screening processes, has courted over 600 customers including Amazon, Sears, Vaco, and Kenny that use the Sense platform to scale their hiring, he said.
Citing its internal figures, Sense said its customers see an average of a whopping 263% increase in the number of candidates they are able to screen using the platform and reduce the time it takes to fill roles by up to 81%.
“Our latest funding is not only validation of the need for personalized talent engagement in today’s candidate-centric world but is also an accelerant for our platform globally as we help reshape the future of work,” he said.
Sense offers a number of services including chatbots that, Dharni said, help businesses remove biases from their hiring practices.
In the last one and a half years, the startup’s platform has also been used to hire healthcare workers, he said.
Dharni got the idea to launch Sense after facing challenges in hiring talent at his previous firms, said Dharni, who previously co-founded gaming firm Funzio, which was acquired by GREE for $210 million.
“We realized that talent is what makes or breaks a company. If you can’t attract the right people, your company is not going to be successful. It doesn’t matter what your TAM [total addressable market] or business model is,” he said.
“It was with that realization that I decided that the next startup we are going to do, it’s going to be around solving for the talent space,” he said.
Dharni said Sense is going after a $200 billion opportunity that remains largely untapped.
Sense has also more than doubled its revenue and employee headcount in the past one year. The startup now plans to expand Sense’s offerings in several markets including the Western Europe, he said.
“We believe the critical nature of the Sense platform in enabling enterprise customers to find and hire quality talent faster has been clear. As it expands both nationally and globally, we have no doubt in their ability to positively transform how companies build great teams and compete,” said Sumer Juneja, Managing Partner of SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement.

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