Houston-based GoCo, a software provider of solutions for HR, benefits, and payroll, acquired Toronto-based WFHomie for an undisclosed amount.
“It’s just a super-nice environment where it feels like a win-win.”
– Pavla Bobosikova, WFHomie
In an interview with BetaKit, WFHomie co-founder and CEO Pavla Bobosikova ticks off all the different reasons why the acquisition will work, and discusses the merits of the various synergies.
As part of the deal, WFHomie’s assets and three of the firm’s six staff are joining GoCo.
Bobosikova described the acquisition as a great learning opportunity. “I also think because [GoCo] approaches the same problem from a different angle they are generally benefiting from all of the know-how we’re bringing on and they’re treating us respectfully, so it’s just a super-nice environment where it feels like a win-win.”
Recent GoCo research found that four out of five HR professionals are feeling more pressure from leadership to retain top talent, and employee engagement programs are key to driving that retention.
With engagement and retention top of mind for HR professionals, GoCo is eager to expand its suite of employee management solutions with even more products and services aimed at enhancing employee experience and providing analytics for measuring engagement.
According to Bobosikova, GoCo spent the first few years after its founding in 2015 focused on solving core HR issues. The firm then began adding integrations and features, like payroll. Now it’s reached the stage where integrating WFHomie makes sense, bringing on such features from the startup as employee engagement and other, more employee-focused products.
“They’ve built a very flexible platform that is ready for scale and ready to bring in these types of products and features that are more employee-focused than just kind of background HR tech-compliance focused,” Bobosikova said.
Founded in 2020, WFHomie built its company with the aim to take advantage of the emergence of new datasets related to remote-first and flexible work. It sensed a big opportunity to crunch this data into actionable employee engagement-related insights for companies.
That focus led the startup to secure $1.9 million CAD in seed financing in late 2021 to fuel the growth of its employee engagement solution.
WFHomie’s investors included a group of venture firms and angels from Canada, the United States, and Western Europe. It was also the first investment from Ryan Holmes and Manny Padda’s fund, LOI Venture.
Over its three years, WFHomie garnered customers that included Wealthsimple, Facebook, Google, Spotify, and Indeed.
Before launching WFHomie, Bobosikova worked as director of product at Toronto-based customer relationship management (CRM) startup Nudge.ai, and then as a product manager at fellow CRM startup San Francisco-based Affinity.co, which acquired Nudge.ai’s assets in March 2020, following its shutdown.
Bobosikova and GoCo CEO and co-founder Nir Leibovich met casually as industry friends in a social setting in 2022 after a friend introduced them. “I think we mutually got very excited about each other’s vision and where the companies were,” Bobosikova recalled. “Basically me and Nir both shared the idea that HR should really be defined, and by disrupting how HR is done.”
The two approached solving the problem of how they might help companies operate more efficiently from different perspectives, but agreed that HR is one of the areas that needed tackling. “It’s not as though neither me nor him have HR backgrounds,” Bobosikova noted.
In fact, Leibovich’s first two startups, in conjunction with his other two co-founders who have together been involved in all three of their startups, were as far away from HR as you can get. One company focused on online portal tracking career statistics of online poker players and was sold in an exit to Zynga in 2011; the other was genome diagnostics firm Arpeggi, sold to Gene By Gene in 2013. Over the course of four different funding rounds, from pre-seed through to Series A, GoCo has secured a total of $27.6 million USD to date.
“They came into it with very little knowledge of HR tech specifically, and they were exploring, ‘okay, what are some of the big challenges?’” Bobosikova said. She noted that HR companies can help businesses thrive by removing a lot of the manual work that goes into it. “The interesting thing,” she added,” is that GoCo shares the same angle [as WFHomie].”
Bobosikova believes that the HR company that will win the market is one that is an all-in-one HR tech platform. “It just felt like a great handshake, great merger to meet ourselves in the middle,” she said about the deal with GoCo “We had this piece, which is focused on culture, employee engagement, employee experience, and they had the piece that goes into the ‘hard’ HR tech, like payroll, HRIS, compliance.”
Feature image courtesy WFHomie.