It’s getting crowded in B.C.’s rapidly growing stable of tech companies that have hit unicorn status in 2021.
Visier Inc. announced Tuesday the close of a US$125-million Series E funding round that now places the Vancouver-based software firm's valuation beyond the $1-billion mark.
It’s the sixth B.C. tech company to publicly acknowledge becoming a unicorn since the start of the year
Visier is best known for specializing in software dedicated to workforce analytics, and chief strategy officer Dave Weisbeck said hiring additional workers of its own is the top priority as it seeks to expand.
“I think we have an unfair advantage in that we can use our own technology for our benefit for hiring in Vancouver,” he told BIV.
“There'll be some international expansion, investments in the product and technology, investments in sales, across the board.”
The plan is to expand its current roster of 500 people by about 100 additional workers over the next 12 months.
And it will be joining an ever-expanding cohort of unicorns building up B.C.’s base of anchor companies.
Trulioo Information Services Inc., Galvanize (ACL Services Ltd.), GeoComply Solutions Inc., Thinkific Labs Inc. and Clio (Themis Solutions Inc.) all attained $1-billion valuations in 2021 either through acquisition, securing additional venture capital or else by going public.
Dapper Labs Inc. has not publicly revealed a valuation, but media reports and the sheer size of its US$305-million raise back in March suggest the Vancouver-based non-fungible token (NFT) firm is now a unicorn.
“It's really important that we have the technology companies in Vancouver that can attract, and grow and develop talent here,” Weisbeck said.
“That's a huge boon for the city and ... I hope Visier can contribute not only to developing that talent, but the next generation of talent as well.”
David Raffa, president of Valeo Corporate Finance Ltd., said the local tech ecosystem is benefitting from private equity firms swimming in cash amid the pandemic, while credit markets are wide open and interest rates are at record lows.
“You build a dam dependent on a river and the water is piling up, piling up, piling up. Then the dam bursts. And so that’s what happened,” Raffa, whose Vancouver-based firm provides services for mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings, told BIV in April.
Access to top-tier universities and the large talent pool paid in Canadian dollars at lower comparable salaries than their American counterparts have been particularly enticing, he added.
Brent Holliday, CEO of Vancouver-based Garibaldi Capital Advisors Ltd., said the local tech sector had been held back to a certain degree in years past owing to the lack of available talent in the city.
“Getting big financings in companies like Hootsuite [Inc.], BuildDirect [.com Technologies Inc.], etc., 10 years ago helped fuel a broader talent pool we have,” he told BIV in May.
Meanwhile, Visier boasts having processed 12 million employee records, while also recently passing the 8,000-customer mark. Adobe Inc. (Nasdaq:ADBE), Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE:UBER) and Electronic Arts Inc. (Nasdaq:EA) are all among Visier's customers.
Weisbeck said the past year-plus has seen major shakeups for businesses that have been tapping workplace analytics tools. Companies have had to navigate the rapid adoption of remote working as well as face pressure from employees urging better diversity and inclusion practices amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We've suddenly gone from something where we were very important to the organization to [where] we were absolutely mission critical because of these issues that have now become board-level discussions,” he said.
“The long tail of that will continue as people get more and more passionate now as we think about return to work. Are we going back offices? Are we staying remote? Are we living in a hybrid world?”
Many experts are also predicting a significant amount of turnover in the coming months as the economy reopens and people feel more certain about job prospects or else have reconsidered their own career goals during the pandemic.
“So these are ongoing issues we're going to have to help people with,” Weisbeck said.
Visier’s Series E funding round was led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management with participation from Sorenson Capital, Foundation Capital, Summit Partners, and Adams Street Partners.
The latest raise brings its total funding to US$219.5 million.