It’s safe to say that chief people officers and HR teams, in general, have taken on a new level of importance lately. The ongoing saga that is the COVID-19 pandemic has turned virtually every company upside down and raised countless questions about the intricacies of work-life balance. At the same time, the resurgence of Black Lives Matter and other similar movements have forced companies across the tech industry to reconsider their role in making the world a more equitable place.
“Every CEO, every board has woken up to how critical the chief people officer role is. It’s no longer this administrative function. These are the people that are literally dealing with the single most pressing and difficult challenges in a company,” NYC-based entrepreneur Joseph Quan told Built In. “I think this is the decade of the chief people officer.”
In order to ensure this new generation of people teams is running the best it can, Quan created Knoetic, a new platform that just emerged from stealth mode with $18 million in fresh Series A funding.
Knoetic is essentially a social network mixed with a people analytics tool. It’s home to a network of more than 1,000 chief people officers at some of the country’s leading companies, which users can turn to for qualitative insights while making decisions about their own business. This, coupled with the data pulled from the analytics end, is meant to guide people leaders as they tackle their day-to-day tasks — from spearheading a massive hiring spree to designing a company’s return-to-work plan.
Quan describes Knoetic’s model as a “whole brain approach,” likening its data side to the left brain and its more “touchy, feely” human-driven side to the right.
“The product is ultimately just a manifestation of me,” Quan said. “I’ve always loved this blend of qualitative and quantitative, the yin and the yang. I think there’s some beauty in that. So I wanted to build a software product that, in some ways, is a manifestation of my own brain.”
Knoetic is a spin-out of Twine, another people analytics company Quan heads. After raising some funding for Twine a couple of years ago he says he began incubating some ideas, and eventually landed on Knoetic. The new startup branched off from Twine about 16 months ago and has since been used by more than 1,000 chief people officers.
The startup has also gained the attention of some pretty impressive investors, including executives at leading tech companies like Figma, Calm and Box. Accel led this latest Series A round, adding Knoetic to the growing list of employee-focused startups in its portfolio. In just the last couple of months, the VC firm has invested in upskilling platform Emeritus and internal work marketplace Gloat. Now it’s putting its weight behind Knoetic’s unique approach.
“The best companies have great people teams at their core. That’s doubly true in today’s era of distributed work and a hypercompetitive talent market,” Vas Natarajan, a partner at Accel, said in a statement provided to Built In. “Knoetic delivers critical insights to CPOs and their teams so they can design for healthy, diverse, top-performing teams.”
Longterm, Quan thinks that Knoetic has the potential to impact not just the thousands of companies it serves, but society as a whole.
“What I’m most excited about is every company in the world kind of waking up to how critical it is getting the people function right,” he said. “Being great at performance management, being great at people analytics, being great at recruiting and hiring and creating great companies. I think that is a net positive for the world.”
In the meantime, the company will use this fresh funding to further build out the platform and grow its team. The company has about 25 employees right now, and Quan expects that number to double by the end of the year.