Acquisitions / Business / Business development / Founders / Products

After Paradox acquisition, Traitify cofounders share the lessons that helped them find their niche

Dan Sines and Josh Spears have stayed true to their goals and vision over the past decade — and now have the sale of their Highlandtown-headquartered company to show for it.

Paradox CEO Aaron Matos (left) and Traitify cofounder Dan Sines. (Courtesy photo)

Paradox, an Arizona company behind recruiting software that automates hiring for large companies like McDonalds, has acquired Baltimore’s personality assessment platform maker, Traitify.

The new name of the Highlandtown-headquartered org: Traitify by Paradox.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, though Baltimore Business Journal reports the deal was worth $40 million, a figure Traitify’s cofounders declined to confirm or deny to What they did confirm is that the journey to success was long, winding and by no means happened overnight.

“It’s a really surreal feeling as a founder to have your company acquired,” said Dan Sines, cofounder and former CEO of Traitify. He’s now VP of product under the new organization. “It’s the journey that we’ve been on for 10 years.”

Traitify makes a visual personality assessment platform that is used by companies as they recruit employees. The image-based personality test can be completed on a mobile device in less than two minutes, and is based on the “Big 5” personality traits.

The venture-backed HR tech company was founded in 2011, but Sines and fellow cofounder Josh Spears, now also a VP of product after the acquisition, met in sixth grade at Parkville Middle School, so their roots to Baltimore and each other run deep. Both from working class families as well as multimedia production and design backgrounds, they feel it’s those unique perspectives that have bled into their company and allowed for their success. It’s also made the company more focused on the consumer experience, they said.

“I truly believe if we don’t start in building a consumer-facing application, we don’t have what we have today,” Spears said. “Starting in that consumer space and learning how to build something consumers wanted to interact with enabled us to build an enterprise-level application.”

But success is often a squiggly line filled with dead ends and pushed along by perseverance. Traitify started by developing a dating app, then pivoted to the education space before finally finding their niche in the workforce application industry. Even this deal with Paradox has been in the making for a year, as the two companies have been working together before the acquisition was announced.

“We built this cool assessment and we knew there was something more there,” Sines said. “That was our guiding light through all 10 years. We knew this core thing we created had immense potential, and we needed to find a place for it to live.”

In other words, each iteration of their application was a lesson in finding what works best for the consumer and then enhancing that feature. None of the years designing now-forgotten apps were lost time or failures — only opportunities to further refine and develop the mobile-based personality assessment that’s the core of their business today.

“I think often when you’re on this entrepreneurial journey, it’s easy to focus on the negative pieces,” Sines said. “That’s often what ultimately causes a startup to fail. We knew two things about ourselves: We had the best product in the world for assessing and we were willing to persevere and have grit to get it there. And if you can do those two things — have a good product and the grit — I think it can really take you to the final place you’re looking to be.”

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: Traitify
People: Dan Sines / Josh Spears

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