Bill Gates’ former technology consultant and Bing executive started a recruiting firm

Recently, the recruiting circuit has been in full swing, with BOSS reaching an average MAU of 18.22 million in 2020, becoming the only recruiting app to make the QM annual growth list, and planning to go public in the US this year.

Before that, the recruitment track in China has been lukewarm, low frequency, long cycle, and difficult to close the loop are the pain points that this industry cannot escape.

In terms of the number of independent devices, the three giants of China’s recruitment track are WisdomLink, Qiancheng Wuyou and BOSS. In addition to the BOSS direct recruitment through the “talk directly with the boss” model, the other two are the traditional resume delivery type recruitment method, relying on the platform traffic to match the supply and demand sides. Including the use of software, candidates also have to fill in their own keywords to get the corresponding keywords under the platform traffic.

This model, which requires a lot of initiative from candidates, is effective for recruiting junior staff, as they will strive for opportunities, while resumes of experienced talent often rarely appear on such recruitment platforms, and senior talent is scarce and difficult to recruit is a pain point of the market.

In China, such problems are generally solved by manpower search. Of course, China is still in the demographic dividend period, on the one hand, the supply of talent is large, especially for the head company; on the other hand, the cost of labor is relatively low, and the time is not yet ripe to replace manpower with tools.

The opposite is true in the US, where rising labor costs and slowing Internet growth have accelerated the replacement of labor with tools.

Seekout is a tool that solves these recruitment problems.

Resumes don’t define you, big data across the web does

In 2016, Seekout was just a career messaging platform called Nextio, similar to Linkedin, that made money by charging users to connect with each other.

But the core function of Seekout product did not take off, instead, a function called “career insight” attracted the attention of users, which can analyze millions of resumes across the platform and tell users that if you want to pursue a certain career or enter a certain company It tells users what to do at what stage of preparation if you want to pursue a career or enter a company.

Bill Gates' former technology consultant and Bing executive started a recruiting firm

Image source: Seekout

It seems that in the career field, people are actually more concerned about the uncovering information than sending messages to others, and of course, the people under the water.

The so-called “underwater people” refers to those whose resumes are not widely flowing into the hands of HR, and even in any recruitment platform can not search his relevant information, but has a strong business ability, and all aspects are very suitable with some difficult to recruit job JD talent.

Recruiting talents for such positions is often a headache for professional HR, because most of them can only rely on the submitted resumes or recruitment websites to search for candidates, and the sources of candidates are relatively limited.

CEO Anoop Gupta is a professor at Stanford University, Gupta himself is a former technical advisor to Bill Gates and spent 18 years at Microsoft, and CTO Aravind Bala is a former senior engineer at Bing and a major driving force behind the development of the search engine. one of the main drivers and leaders of search engine development. Both men have an extremely deep background in AI, natural language and search engines, with over 200 patents in these areas alone combined.

Bill Gates' former technology consultant and Bing executive started a recruiting firm

Seekout co-founders Anoop Gupta and Aravind Bala, source: Geekwire

Good engineers leave their “footprints” – code, patents and papers – on the Web, after all, because they write code for a living and rely on patents and papers to prove their mettle.

Gupta says, “There are roughly 430 million public profiles on the Web, and 25 million profiles on Github consisting of project participation and browsing traces.” This has significantly broadened Seekout’s thinking about searching for information on talent.

As a result, in 2017, the founders decided to shift the main function of the product and make a special recruitment platform that specializes in hiring two kinds of people.

People with strong competencies whose resumes do not flow widely into HR’s hands.

Diverse talent.

While the first type of talent is well understood, the second type of talent is born out of the diverse society in the U.S. Seekout aims to help tech companies recruit people whose abilities match their positions but who are discriminated against because of their ethnicity, gender, or education.

In some ways, Seekout’s path is similar to that of Slack, whose origins can be traced back to an internal communications tool used to develop online games. The game is gone, but Slack is here to stay.

Based on the original resume data and analysis, Seekout scoured the entire web for talent-related public data from sources such as Github, academic journals, patent lists, various alumni lists, Linkedin, major company websites, individual self-built sites, and more.

Based on the collected data, Seekout uses natural language (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to analyze each candidate’s level of expertise and create a 360-degree view of each potential employee, involving more than 20 filters, including distinguishing between a talent’s self-built resume and actual performance, with the former coming from platforms such as Linkedin, and the latter mainly from Github , The former comes from platforms such as Linkedin, while the latter is mainly sourced from facts such as Github, patents, papers, life experiences, etc., ultimately expanding the available talent pool significantly.

After some searching and processing, Seekout will produce a comprehensive result about the candidate, which can be complex, but it also shows a more three-dimensional picture of what the candidate is like, thus improving the candidate match and making the recruitment more efficient. This is what Gupta calls “Looking at people as a whole”.

Bill Gates' former technology consultant and Bing executive started a recruiting firm

Seekout’s “Talent Insights” dashboard based on public resumes, source: Seekout

It starts with recruiting, not just recruiting

For companies, Seekout can recruit people who are not available on other platforms, or who would not even be available. One HR person once told the founder, “Through Seekout, I can see hundreds of candidates that I have never seen on Linkedin, especially when recruiting female engineer managers, and Seekout is extremely powerful. “

Moreover, due to Seekout’s three-dimensional analysis of talent, people recruited through Seekout are more compatible with the position and also have a lower turnover rate.

But in addition to recruitment, companies have many more claims on their workforce, such as stimulating employee potential and improving employee retention.

Regarding existing employees, Gupta analyzes, “Many companies’ management does not know their existing employees, even though managers spend time with them, especially the progress and contributions in the recent period.” Therefore, Seekout’s real-time updated talent database can come in handy again – it will give companies real-time contribution data of their employees, including in-company contributions, as well as output on the Github platform, and academic publications, allowing companies to get a timely, comprehensive and three-dimensional understanding of their employees, and adjust timely Talent strategy, maximize the potential of employees, and improve talent retention rate.

Bill Gates' former technology consultant and Bing executive started a recruiting firm

Image source: select software reviews

For HR, using Seekout not only helps them do a better job of hiring, but also helps them really get into the candidate’s world from a technical standpoint. Seekout’s analytics tools can help HR solve this problem, thus enhancing their professional competitiveness.

At the same time, thanks to its large data source, Seekout gives candidates more contact information than just email, which means HR can have a more personal relationship with the candidate, which is an advantage for HR.

For talent, Seekout not only gives more opportunities, but also gives more solid career planning advice and more connections with peers.

So, thanks to the complete talent database, Seekout is making itself multi-purpose, not only doing a good job of “recruiting”, but also laying out other aspects related to “talent”, such as improving human output, employee retention and career planning. We are working on other aspects of “talent”, starting from recruiting and moving to the end of “talent”.

As Gupta said, “We must be the best search engine for talent.” And while “talent” is certainly recognized as the most important asset of modern business until the next technological change – Seekout has a stranglehold on business and has endless imagination.

Why did Seekout win?

How can you tell if a SaaS company is good or not? Growth rate is an important metric, and Rory O’Driscoll, an investor who has invested in SaaS companies for 25 years, once said, “The best SaaS companies will typically grow at 80% to 85% of the previous year’s annual growth rate.”

By Rory O’Driscoll’s standards, Seekout is undoubtedly an extremely good Saas company – after all, not only has it grown its ARR by more than 10x since its May 2019 Series A round, it also has positive cash flow, a rarity among early-stage Saas companies, and on March 9 announced the closing of a $65 million funding round.

Bill Gates' former technology consultant and Bing executive started a recruiting firm

Image source: select software reviews

Recruiting is not new, there are giants like Linkedin and Workday, distinctive startups like Textio and Karat, also owned by Tiger Fund, and vertical recruiting tools like Eightfold AI, Hiretual, Hired, Greenhouse, Workable, etc. The landscape is clear. The landscape is clear and very crowded.

So what are the reasons for Seekout’s success?

First of all, although the recruitment track is very crowded, it is also an extremely large market, and a large market is bound to have small unmet needs. For example, it is difficult for HR of technology companies to recruit suitable engineers, and Seekout has a unique advantage in solving this problem, thus, Seekout has gained a firm foothold in the hearts of the first users.

Secondly, the accumulation of previous generations of Internet recruitment platforms and pendant knowledge platforms has provided Seekout with sufficient data, and these data are openly and publicly available, which makes Seekout’s original data cost much lower. Imagine when oil companies do not need to buy oil field property rights, but only need to extract oil fields, isn’t it much more profitable?

This reason determines the timing of Seekout’s emergence, and a little earlier, there may not be this condition.

Furthermore, in the past, Internet entrepreneurship was advocated to replace manpower with technology, but in practice, although simple and repetitive work can be replaced by machines and code, there will still be a large number of jobs that only human beings can do, such as making data decisions, setting directions for machine learning, etc., thus creating a large demand for engineers.

In the past, IT was the cost center, but after the Internet entered the second half, HR became the cost center. For technology companies, manpower accounts for a considerable part of the cost, and shows a rising trend year by year. At the same time, senior talents are still scarce, and those who are suitable for a specific environment of a company are even scarcer, and it is a common pain point that senior talents are hard to recruit. This determines that Seekout is not an overnight business, the market is not only long-term, but also has great growth potential.

Finally, the recruiting track already has players either platform-based recruiting software that rely heavily on UGC data, such as Linkedin, or tools for changing JD, arranging interviews, etc., such as JD writing tool Textio and interview tool Karat, few are trying to synthesize information from the entire network and give insight about talent.

Insight is one of the biggest differences between humans and machines, and one of the biggest differences between Seekout and other recruiting software. Having insight into “talent” and convincing clients of it is not easy, as the founder of Netscape told Gupta when Seekout was serving Netscape: “If today’s meeting is about data, let’s listen to the data; if it’s about opinion, let’s listen to me.”

The founding team’s extremely high level of Big Data, ML, AI, and search engine technology gives them the ability to organize huge amounts of data, and their rich industry experience gives them insight into the needs of the market, giving them a unique advantage in terms of their team.

Looking at it this way, Seekout can be considered as a seed player that meets the right place and right time.

Bill Gates' former technology consultant and Bing executive started a recruiting firm

Seekout’s co-founding team, from left to right, Anoop Gupta, Aravind Bala, Vikas Manocha and John Tippett

The emergence of Seekout represents, to a certain extent, the completion of the 2.0 era in the U.S. recruiting circuit.

On the contrary, the domestic situation we talked about at the beginning of the article is relatively close to the early 2.0 form, therefore, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, the existing recruitment platforms, except for BOSS Direct Employment through the “direct talk with the boss” model, the other two are traditional resume delivery type recruitment method, relying on the platform traffic to match the supply and demand sides, simple and brutal.

But if there is a Chinese version of Seekout, the way of matching employers and candidates will change drastically. In addition to being a manpower platform, it will also take up other HR department’s business besides recruitment, such as career planning, team building and hrbp, and even contribute to the growth of the company, which is a downward blow to the traditional recruitment platform.

But the limitations of a company like Seekout are also quite obvious. Programmer profiles can be found through github, but what about other professions? There are a large number of professions whose practitioners’ information will not appear online, which is determined by the nature of the profession, not to mention that the breadth and depth of information technology in China is far less than in the US. This means that Seekout will never be able to replace the job hunters.

But that doesn’t mean that we are bound to see a Seekout in China in the future, although the market pain points are similar, different solutions will be born under different conditions. And whether there is a Chinese version of Seekout or not, redefining talent is bound to be the trend under the conditions of rising labor costs, scarcity of talent, and slowing growth due to technology.


  1. SeekOut Announces $6 Million in Series-A Funding
  2. Meet SeekOut, a profitable diverse hiring startup that just raised $65M
  3. Recruiting startup SeekOut raises $65M to take on LinkedIn and other talent acquisition companies
  4. SeekOut Raises $65 Million in Series B Funding to Accelerate Talent 360, an AI-Powered Platform to Find, Hire, Retain and Grow Talent
  5. Applying Machine Learning to Finding Great Talent – SeekOut
  6. The Recruiter Tool Kit Series: SeekOut Review
  7. When LinkedIn isn’t enough: Ex-Microsoft leaders raise $6M for recruiting startup SeekOut
  8. Understanding the Mendoza Line for SaaS growth
  9. BOSS Direct has no comment on US IPO, recruitment industry is still competitive
  10. BOSS Direct Recruitment’s midfield rise: the survival apocalypse of a low-frequency, in-demand industry

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