Oct
10
2018
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Zenefits’ Parker Conrad returns with Rippling to kill HR & IT busywork

Parker Conrad likes to save time, even though it’s gotten him in trouble. The former CEO of Zenefits was pushed out of the $4.5 billion human resources startup because he built a hack that let him and employees get faster insurance certifications. But 2.5 years later, he’s back to take the busy work out of staff onboarding as well as clumsy IT services like single sign-on to enterprise apps. Today his startup Rippling launches its combined employee management system, which Conrad calls a much larger endeavor than the minimum viable product it announced while in Y Combinator’s accelerator 18 months ago.

“It’s not an HR system. It’s a level below that,” Conrad tells me. “It’s this unholy, crazy mashup of three different things.” First, it handles payroll, benefits, taxes and PTO across all 50 states. “Except Syria and North Korea, you can pay anyone in the world with Rippling,” Conrad claims. That makes it a competitor with Gusto… and Zenefits.

Second, it’s a replacement for Okta, Duo and other enterprise single-sign on security apps that authenticate staffers across partnered apps. Rippling bookmarklets make it easy to auth into over 250 workplace apps, like Gmail, Slack, Dropbox, Asana, Trello, AWS, Salesforce, GitHub and more. When an employee is hired or changes teams, a single modification to their role in Rippling automatically changes all the permissions of what they can access.

And third, it handles computer endpoint security like Jamf. When an employee is hired, Rippling can instantly ship them a computer with all the right software installed and the hard drive encrypted, or have staffers add the Rippling agent that enforces the company’s security standards. The system is designed so there’s no need for an expert IT department to manage it.

“Distributed, fragmented systems of record for employee data are secretly the cause of almost all the annoying administrative work of running a company,” Conrad explains. “If you could build this system that ties all of it together, you could eliminate all this crap work.” That’s Rippling. It’s opening up to all potential clients today, charging them a combined subscription or à la carte fees for any of the three wings of the product.

Conrad refused to say how much Rippling has raised total, citing the enhanced scrutiny Zenefits’ raises drew. But he says a Wall Street Journal report that Rippling had raised $7 million was inaccurate. “We haven’t raised any priced VC rounds. Just a bunch of seed money. We raised from Initialized Capital, almost all the early seed investors at Zenefits and a lot of individuals.” He cited Y Combinator, YC Growth Fund, YC’s founder Jessica Livingston and president Sam Altman, other YC partners, as well as DFJ and SV Angel.

“Because we were able to raise a bunch of money and court great engineers . . . we were able to spend a lot of time building this fundamental technology,” Conrad tells me. Rippling has about 50 team members now, with about 40 of them being engineers, highlighting just how thoroughly Conrad wants to eradicate manual work about work, starting with his own startup.

The CEO refused to discuss details of exactly what went down at Zenefits and whether he thought his ejection was fair. He was accused of allowing Zenefits’ insurance brokers to sell in states where they weren’t licensed, and giving some employees a macro that let them more quickly pass the online insurance certification exam. Conrad ended up paying about $534,000 in SEC fines. Zenefits laid off 430 employees, or 45 percent of its staff, and moved to selling software to small-to-medium sized businesses through a network of insurance brokers.

But when asked what he’d learned from Zenefits, Conrad looked past those troubles and instead recalled that “one of the mistakes that we made was that we did a lot stuff manually behind the scenes. When you scale up, there are these manual processes, and it’s really hard to come back later when it’s a big hard complicated thing and replace it with technology. You get upside down on margins. If you start at the beginning and never let the manual processes creep in . . . it sort of works.”

Perhaps it was trying to cut corners that got Conrad into the Zenefits mess, but now that same intention has inspired Rippling’s goal of eliminating HR and IT drudgery with an all-in-one tool.

“I think I’m someone who feels the pain of that kind of stuff particularly strongly. So that’s always been a real irritant to me, and I saw this problem. The conventional wisdom is ‘don’t build something like this, start with something much smaller,’ ” Conrad concludes. “But I knew if I didn’t do this, that no one else was gong to do it and I really wanted this system to exist. This is a company that’s all about annoying stuff and making that fucking annoying stuff go away.”

Mar
06
2018
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Justworks raises $40M to build a simpler business operations suite

 Isaac Oates runs a startup that’s looking to be a complete suite of operational tools like human resources and payroll for businesses — but he and his team initially didn’t get why users kept asking better reporting tools over and over again. It’s indicative of the constant push-and-pull startups and founders face when having to juggle the hopes and dreams of their own… Read More

Aug
23
2017
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Lumity raises $19M to simplify employee health care choices

 As companies get bigger and bigger, their needs are going to change — including, probably most importantly, their options for health care as their employee base expands and the costs of those plans start to balloon. But the end result is that employees could be presented with a confusing set of plans to pick from without a whole lot of guidance. There’s where Lumity comes in.… Read More

Mar
14
2017
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Zenefits founder Parker Conrad takes another crack at HR onboarding

 Parker Conrad’s last venture at Zenefits didn’t end so well with his departure as CEO and the company having to re-orient itself. But he’s once again starting a company that will figure out how to build an employee system of record and management, starting off with smoothing out the process of on-boarding employees and focusing on other major life events for those… Read More

Jan
31
2017
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Zenefits launches new tools for employee compliance and looks to simplify pricing

zenefits documents app Zenefits today said it would be introducing new pricing tiers in an effort to simplify them, as well as add new tools for HR managers to ensure that employees are getting their documents in and they are compliant with regulations. The new tools — and pricing — are another way that Zenefits is trying to differentiate itself as an all-in-one platform for managing employee records… Read More

Oct
05
2016
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Zenefits makes licensing compliance app available for free in the Salesforce App Exchange

disrupt_sf16_david_sacks-3705 Zenefits announced this week, it was making a licensing compliance app it created in-house to ensure its sales people are properly licensed to sell insurance in a given state, available for free to anyone to download from the Salesforce App Exchange. Last winter Zenefits was sailing along providing HR services in the cloud for small and medium businesses when a bombshell hit. Buzzfeed… Read More

Sep
13
2016
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CEO David Sacks on moving on from Zenefits’ troubled past

disrupt_sf16_david_sacks-3714 Zenefits at one point was one of the fastest growing software companies in the world, rocketing to a $4.5 billion valuation in 18 months. It was on track to generate tens of millions of dollars in annual recurring revenue. Then, everything went south; regulators started investigating the company, and its CEO Parker Conrad was fired from the company earlier this year. In short, it’s been… Read More

Aug
07
2016
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HR 2.0 is the poster child for the next wave of SaaS innovation

shutterstock_157573751 The path for SaaS domination of a market segment has historically followed one of two routes: bringing previously offline workflows online, or moving on-premise software processes online. In short, SaaS would take over segments that previously were not SaaSified. Yet, the current wave of HR SaaS innovators the past few years is proving that there can be more to the story. Read More

Jul
25
2016
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Zenefits gets a small fine in resolving regulatory concerns in Tennessee

Michael Arrington interviews Yammer's David Sacks Zenefits has been under fire for skirting regulation, resulting in the ouster of its previous CEO Parker Conrad and a heavy-duty overhaul underway of the company. The results of that effort are now seemingly starting to emerge, starting first with a resolution in Tennessee which will cost the company $62,500 and allow it to continue operating. The company continues to have conversations with… Read More

Jun
30
2016
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Zenefits halves its previous valuation to $2B to head off investor lawsuits

Fireside Chat With Yammer Founder and CEO, David Sacks Zenefits is executing a change in its current ownership structure that will increase the overall ownership of the company for late-stage investors; it’s a move that revalues the company’s Series C round at $2 billion and looks to placate investor concerns over the company’s regulatory investigations. As part of accepting the new ownership changes, the investors… Read More

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