Tech-Recruiting Startup Andela Raises $200 Million in Round Led by SoftBank

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Andela uses AI to help employers look beyond Silicon Valley for talent and tap a wider range of markets, such as Africa and Latin America.

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“Hiring remote technical talent is one of the biggest challenges companies face,” Lydia Jett, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisors, a subsidiary that manages SoftBank’s investment funds, said in a statement. “We are confident that Andela will become the talent partner of choice for the best companies in the world as remote and hybrid work arrangements become the norm,” she said.

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Previous investors include Generation Investment Management, Spark Capital and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which began its investment five years ago by leading a $24 million Series B funding round in Andela.

The latest round, which values ​​the company at about $1.5 billion, comes as chief information officers and other tech leaders take a more global approach to building IT teams to find talent.

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Jeremy Johnson, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said the adoption of remote working and hybrid-workplace strategies during the pandemic, as well as fierce competition for tech talent, fueled Andela’s rapid growth. This is prompting recruiters to look beyond Silicon Valley, India, China and other traditional tech hubs, Mr Johnson said.

He said the company plans to use the new funds to grow its network of job candidates in at least 100 countries by the end of this year, up from around 80 currently. Built from an initial group of software engineers in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya, the company’s network covered seven countries before the pandemic struck, he said.

Andela said she uses artificial intelligence to connect candidates in her network with job postings by member employers around the world. It analyzes data including applicants’ technical skills, training and experience, workplace compatibility and other variables that can help foster productive teams. Employers pay the company for successful placements as well as additional services such as regulatory and labor-law guidance.

To find a match, the company works closely with corporate CIOs to understand what kind of roles they need to play, Mr Johnson said.

Adela said its system currently has a 96% success rate, meaning new employees from its network stay with the employer for at least a year and a half. Since its launch in 2014, it has hired thousands of engineers in full-time, remote jobs, the company said.

Mr Johnson said he plans to increase spending on AI, aiming to accelerate candidate-employer matching. “We want to move from weeks to days,” he said.

It is also eyeing potential acquisition targets to expand operations and capabilities.

According to IT trade group CompTIA, US employers had about 321,000 unfinished IT jobs in August, including professional, scientific and tech-services firms, banks and insurance firms, manufacturers, schools and retailers.

“Tech is a particularly difficult talent market,” said Sam Bright, chief product and experience officer at online freelance marketplace Upwork.

Like many employers, Andela himself faltered in the early days of the pandemic, when corporate recruiters everywhere suddenly stopped hiring, Mr Johnson said. In May 2020, the company laid off around 135 employees, while senior employees took pay cuts of up to 30%.

“Hiring managers just froze,” he said. “A big part of 2020 was like a deer in the headlights.” Mr Johnson said it began to spin when employers realized remote working was becoming more than an emergency response to the pandemic.

“It opens up a whole new way of thinking about hiring,” he said.

Angus Loten at [email protected]

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