15Five Adds $1M from Yammer, Xobni Founders for Weekly Status Update Tool

Annual performance reviews are still common at large companies, but for many organizations, weekly status reports are becoming more common since they help identify issues as they come up, and help managers monitor their team’s productivity and resources. Today progress report platform 15Five announced that it has added $1 million in seed funding for its tool, which helps managers track their employees’ progress on a weekly basis.

Today’s funding round is led by Richmond Global venture capital firm, with participation from 500 Startups and several individual investors, including Yammer founder David Sacks and Xobni founder Matt Brezina. Both Brezina and Sacks created tools that made the workplace more social, and Sacks originally offered to invest in the company when it launched in beta at the LAUNCH conference in March 2012.

15Five founder David Hassell said the group of investors is made up of several people in the social enterprise space, and others who missed participating in the company’s earlier friends and family funding round. “For the majority of folks, everybody who I had come in had something to contribute and some connection to the business,” he said. “Folks who really get our space, or have been there done that, or who just happen to be great entrepreneurs even if they’re not in the enterprise software space.”

The San Francisco-based company originally launched out of beta in August 2012, and when BetaKit spoke with the team in October they had added hundreds of customers, who pay $49 per month for up to 10 employees, and $5 per employee after that. Using 15Five managers can customize a set of questions to send out to employees on a weekly basis, which they can then review, and compile highlights to send to the CEO or other executives. As the name suggests, the idea is that employees will take 15 minutes per week to answer the questions, and managers will spend five minutes reviewing those answers.

Hassell said this new funding will go to product development and marketing, since he says the original product was really a minimum viable product to see if they could get people writing reports, and managers reviewing reports and providing feedback. They’re currently working on version 2.0 of 15Five, which they expect to launch in the first half of 2013, and which will have an expanded feature set including new ways to analyze the information in the weekly reports. Hassell said they will also be building out marketing and sales teams, and new investor Ben Parr, formerly an editor at Mashable, will be helping on the marketing front.

While right now Sacks is just an investor, it could make sense to bring 15Five into the Yammer/Microsoft fold, since employees are already using that tool to chat with each other and track projects. Similar tool Thinkfuse, which was based on one of Google’s internal features, was quickly snapped up by Salesforce after its launch in spring 2012. And another competitor, iDoneThis, launched paid plans in April 2012 and had over 50,000 users by the summer.

Whether 15Five gets snapped up by a larger player in the enterprise social space, or whether it exists as a niche tool for employees and managers to communicate on a weekly basis, the company will need to prove its effectiveness as it starts actively selling to organizations. January is likely a good time to shine a light on the tool, since companies are setting their goals for the year, but whether it gets used on an ongoing basis is the question that will dictate the company’s success.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is a Co-founder and CEO at Willful, an online estate planning platform. Also a former Managing Director at Eighty-Eight, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.

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