Tech Hiring Matchmaker HackerRank Draws $7.5M From Global HR Firm

HackerRank, which hosts online competitions that help programmers flaunt their skills to potential employers like Amazon and Quora, said today it has landed a $7.5 million investment from the funding arm of Japan-based human resources giant Recruit.

The new alliance with Recruit will help Palo Alto, CA-based HackerRank scale up its business in the Asia Pacific region, CEO and co-founder Vivek Ravisankar says. Recruit could be HackerRank’s gateway to both employers and job candidates in that part of the world, he says.

HackerRank counts as customers more than a thousand employers such as Walmart, Bloomberg, and Morgan Stanley, which pay for access to programmers who score high in HackerRank’s online coding challenges, Ravisankar says. All have made at least one hire facilitated by HackerRank, he says. Recruit itself is not a client—yet.

“I think we’ll get them soon,” Ravisankar (pictured above) says.

Ravisankar and his co-founder Harishankaran Karunanidhi, who started the company in 2012, want to change the way tech workers and employers find each other. Under traditional staff search processes, tech applicants send their resumes into the “black hole” of company hiring departments, while recruiters spend hours sifting through resumes to find good prospects, Ravisankar says. Employers may then spend weeks doing interviews to try to gauge the applicants’ actual technical abilities.

HackerRank’s competitions are designed to speed up that process, and open opportunities to people regardless of their gender, race, location, or the prestige of their university degrees. Hackers can log in to the site to improve their skills, compete in challenges, and gain rankings across a range of specific areas such as algorithms, machine learning, and streamlining code. For employers looking to hire skilled new tech team members, it’s kind of like consulting a Moneyball analysis of programmers, Ravisankar says.

“They’re getting to talk to high-quality candidates from the start,” Ravisankar says. HackerRank has screened more than a million developers over the last couple of years, he says. More than 150,000 active programmers used the site over the past month.

In addition to the chance of getting a job offer, hackers can win cash prizes or tech toys such as GoPro cameras, drones, and laptops by performing well in the contests.

HackerRank has built a reputation as “the go-to community for tech talent analysis,” HR Technology Fund president Chihiro Ueda said in a statement about the Recruit fund’s investment in the startup. “As the demand for technology talent continues to outstrip supply, HackerRank offers an efficient way for HR professionals to evaluate talent beyond traditional means.’’

The Recruit fund’s investment brings HackerRank’s total fundraising to $17 million. The company’s earlier financial backing came from Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, and Battery Ventures, among other investors. Ravisankar says HackerRank’s competitors include companies such as San Francisco-based recruiting software company Gild. Gild compiles profiles of working professionals from dozens of sites, and helps employers find those who best match their needs.

HackerRank’s clients include small to medium-sized businesses as well as larger enterprises, Ravisankar says. The company charges fees of $5,000 to $10,000 a year, per user, depending on the extra features clients want to add. These include CodePair, a skills-testing tool employers can use during the interview process. HackerRank also enables companies to set up their own hacker challenges on their websites’ career landing pages.

Ravisankar says he expects HackerRank’s revenues to reach “the double-digits of millions of dollars” in the next three to four months. The company may double its current staff size of 120 within a year, he says.

HackerRank is one of a growing number of online forums where programmers can demonstrate their computer science skills, outside the academic credentialing system of degrees from accredited colleges and universities. For example, Utah-based online learning company Pluralsight offers skills tests through its division Smarterer, and hackers can showcase their work on tech projects through GitHub.

HackerRank is also making inroads into the academic system. Professors at 74 colleges are using HackerRank’s challenge infrastructure at no charge to set programming tasks for their students, rather than posting the assignments via e-mail, downloading each student’s work, and computing the rankings themselves. Once the classroom service becomes better known, HackerRank will market it as a product to colleges and universities, Ravisankar says.

But HackerRank will remain an avenue of opportunity for people who have never earned a degree, says Ravisankar. The company’s core mission is to create a meritocratic route to tech employment, he says. Fees will never be charged to hackers entering one of the company’s coding contests, he says.

“They will never pay,” Ravisankar says. “It will always be free forever.”

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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