After Ambler-based HR tech company Phenom acquired three companies and raised a $100 million Series D in the span of less than a year, CEO Mahe Bayireddi feels like an IPO is inevitable in the company’s next moves.
It would have been a hard call to make just a year ago, he said, as Phenom and companies across the world faced an incredibly uncertain Q1 and Q2 in 2020. But after the dust settled a bit, the demand for innovative, remote-first recruiting and hiring practices amid the pandemic clarified Phenom’s position and model, Bayireddi said.
Along with the recent fundraising announcement was that of the company’s current expected valuation of around $1.4 billion — a unicorn, and a rarity among Philly-area companies. (Valued at $8.9 billion following a $1.15 billon raise, Callowhill’s goPuff has also earned the distinction, eight times over.) The recent acquisitions have upgraded the company’s platform to include video integration, data optimization and omnichannel interview scheduling features — some aspects that were of interest a few years ago, but have become essential to those hiring now, in a mostly remote world.
And while going public isn’t on the company’s immediate radar, it’s likely to happen “soon,” the CEO said: “Going public is definitely a part of that journey, there’s no doubt about it,” he told Technical.ly.
Phenom’s recent swings have been big ones, chances Bayireddi said he felt the company could make because of the pandemic.
“After the pandemic started, we thought, ‘Failure in the middle of a pandemic is not a failure, actually,'” he said. “So what we accelerated on was, ‘What are the biggest things we can bet on based on what is the trend right now?'”
He added that they asked themselves what types of products, packaging and customer experience could they provide in this new remote wold and innovated in those areas.
And when it comes to the company’s most recent fundraise, Bayireddi said the relationship building was different than the company’s Series C in January 2020. In the pandemic, he said, there’s a much harder look at the numbers and how the company is valued. There was also a luck factor, he said, that Phenom had just raised a large round and was flush with cash heading into the pandemic.
Bayireddi said he feels the pandemic has overall helped the tech scene and its founders because companies are highlighting their values right now, and fundraising can be done virtually.
As for the core of the company’s business — getting a billion people the right job — Bayireddi said he believes we’re in a new golden age of HR, and the markets and industries will be able to reopen after more than a year of uncertainty.
“The industries that were shut off will come back as newer industries, and the ones accelerating in the pandemic will have their people,” he said. “We’re going to see how people are hiring and creating new dynamics, and it will create incredible growth.”
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