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Simpplr raises $70M for its intranet platform driven by AI.

Photo: Simpplr

An HR tech business engaged Dhiraj Sharma’s first company, a software consultant, to create an app to ease employee onboarding some years ago. Sharma created Simpplr, which became its firm instead of a one-off solution.

Today, Simpplr sells a customized intranet that lets employees create profiles, share content, follow users, and participate in polls and surveys. In addition, managers may construct employee directories and social workspaces for teams and departments.

Business is growing. Simpplr announced today that Sapphire Ventures led a $70 million investment round with Norwest Ventures, Tola Capital, and Salesforce Ventures. Sharma said Simpplr would use the additional $61 million to hire more people and fund product R&D.

Simpplr is built for business owners, so they can own it — with limited to no dependency on IT,” CEO Sharma told TechCrunch in an email. “Simpplr delivers an engaging and reliable source of truth by enabling effective communication, collaboration, connection, and productivity, including seamless access to content, resources, and tools for every company employee.”

“Employee experience” software has survived the macroeconomic downturn. As a result, IT decision-makers emphasized tech that improved employee experience and engagement, although budget restrictions as remote and hybrid work became the norm.

Startups benefitted. Culture Amp, which helps organizations analyze anonymous employee surveys, secured $100 million at a $1.5 billion value in July 2021.

According to Workvivo, 57% of employees don’t use their company’s intranet. Simpplr has over 700 customers, including Moderna, Penske, Snowflake, and AAA, despite the investment surge. Sharma anticipates Simpplr’s yearly recurring income to rise 70% or more in 12 months.

Simpplr outperformed Workday and ServiceNow; how? Sharma credits AI-first. Simpplr’s “SmartWriting” functionality uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT to auto-write and edit corporate material for workers.

“AI powers our platform,” Sharma added. “Simpplr’s AI-powered employee experience platform allows IT to give business users content ownership and the digital experience they need.

Simpplr employs AI for sentiment and emotion analysis, which is dangerous because biases tend to enter these systems. For example, vice reported in 2017 that a Google API for evaluating text sentiment regularly labeled statements regarding religious and ethnic minorities as unfavorable.

“[Simpplr] combines active and passive listening to analyze millions of data points across the platform to detect emotions, sentiment, and language patterns and trends over time,” the website says. “Rapidly understand, adapt, and respond to changing trends and attitudes before they become bigger issues that could impact a broader base of employees.”

That second part raises questions about which “trends” Simpplr is tracking. Work policy posts? Emoji reactions? It’s unclear.

Sharma didn’t disclose how Simpplr mitigates biases in sentiment and emotion analysis algorithms. He also refused to answer questions on Simpplr’s privacy policy, including how long it saves customers’ data and how easy it is to erase.

With 450 employees and aspirations to grow, Simpplr appears to have a promising future.

“Thankfully, Simpplr has not been affected by the tech slowdown,” Sharma added. We service over 30 sectors, so even though some IT businesses have reasonably paused decisions or cut resources, this has not harmed our growth. Moreover, Simpplr has been diligent in operations and investment stewardship from the outset, which benefits us regardless of the economy.

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