When it comes to engineering talent in the world of tech, demand continues to outpace supply, a predicament so acute that by 2030, that disparity will balloon to 85 million positions being unfilled, according to research from Korn Ferry. Today, a startup that believes it can stem that tide with a more inclusive, global approach to sourcing, hiring and managing talent is announcing a big fundraise to continue building out its platform.
Turing -- which uses AI to source, evaluate, hire, onboard and then manage engineers remotely (including the HR and compliance aspects) in a bigger platform that it calls the "Talent Cloud" -- has raised $87 million, a Series D round of financing that values the startup at $1.1 billion. WestBridge Capital is leading the round, with previous backer Foundation Capital, new investor StepStone Group, and AltaIR Capital, strategic backer HR Tech Investments LLC (an affiliate of Indeed), Brainstorm Ventures, Frontier Ventures, Modern Venture Partners and Plug and Play Scale Fund all also participating. The round was oversubscribed and so the company also opened up a SAFE note at a $4 billion valuation, which is now also oversubscribed.
The funding comes on the back of strong growth for Turing. Demand from engineers in far-flung parts of the world who could not or did not want to relocate to work ramped up. Jonathan Siddharth, the founder and CEO, told me in an interview that the total pool of candidates has grown 9x to 1 million engineers and developers from 140 countries in the last year, with that pool either looking for projects or already engaged in them. (Note: Last year when the company announced $32 million in funding, it told me it had 180,000 developers on the platform.) It covers some 100 technologies and 15 job titles currently, ranging from entry-level roles all the way up to engineering directors and CTO candidates, he said.
Popular requests are for full-stack engineers, those who specialize in front-end or back-end languages, and site reliability engineers. In the near future, Turing will expand into adjacent areas like project management, paving the way for an upcoming product where companies can engage entire teams on Turing, rather than individuals that are then potentially managed as teams.
Demand is also scaling on the platform. Customers span from technology companies through to non-tech companies that still need engineers to help run and build different aspects of their businesses. They include Johnson & Johnson, Coinbase, Rivian, Dell, Disney, Plume and VillageMD.
"We now live in a remote-first world and everyone is racing to reap the value of that," Siddharth said.
Turing was founded on some basic premises about hiring and remote work that have borne out in the current market climate, shifted and altered perhaps permanently by COVID-19. Before the pandemic, working remotely was occasionally accepted, but in many situations businesses actually built infrastructure not just to enable people to work together in office environments, but to encourage them to stay there for as many hours as possible, with free and excellent food at all hours, pool tables and other diversions, and even nap pods for when you did need a short kip.
This not only played out in entrenched ideas about office culture, but also impacted recruitment and hiring overall: You relocated for your job, and the company and you had to go through a major visa process to do so. And more often than not you were required to relocate to specific tech hubs like the Bay Area. This meant major strain on regional infrastructure, rent and bigger social make-up of cities and towns.
Now with COVID-19 totally changing the game, we're collectively asking ourselves if all that was really necessary, in order to do work, and do it well.
Turing plays on all of that with a platform that effectively is providing a resounding "no" to those questions.
"Twitter, LinkedIn, Siemens, they are all going remote and the reasons are obvious," he said. (Note: Tthose are not named customers, just examples of companies going remote.) "You can now tap into a planetary pool of engineers, and smart people are looking where others are not. Also now we have more proven success of distributed teams."
But that's not to say that remote management is easy: You need to build pipelines of engineers, you need to figure out how to evaluate them and you need to stay communicated with them. Turing's platform has been built, therefore, not just for sourcing but helping those at the company attain these other hard and soft skills. Most people come on board for fixed-term projects, Siddharth said, but some follow the path to taking on more extended, even permanent, roles at organizations. It's not the only company addressing the talent gap.
Fiverr, Upwork, LinkedIn and many others are also making it easier to find engineers wherever they might be, although what Turing has built covers more of the specialized end-to-end needs that arise around engaging them. (In that regard, it's a little like Superside, which raised money for its designer and creative talent hiring and management platform last week.)
“Turing’s ambitious vision of enabling fantastic opportunities for developers across the globe is inspiring,” said John Avirett, partner at StepStone Group, in a statement. “The Intelligent Talent Cloud truly is a remarkable way to democratize access and make lasting connections beyond inking the contract; they’re cultivating the process into long term career planning for the individual and the companies who use them.”
“Turing is productizing every leg of a massive industry and has forever changed its face and perception going forward,” added Ashu Garg of Foundation Capital.