For Large Global Enterprise Customers, Greenhouse Says It’s Open For Business

Greenhouse Open 19, the hiring platform’s annual customer and industry event, took place in New York City over two days this week. More than 1300 current and aspiring “talent makers” descended on the Javits Center in midtown for content, conversation, and learning on all things related to finding and managing talent against the backdrop of today’s market challenges and opportunities. Analysts received an annual update on the company’s product and performance, and an early in-depth look at Greenhouse’s upcoming announcements, on the day before the event.

While the Open conference had many takeaways for talent leaders and practitioners to bring back to the office and implement, Greenhouse’s message to analysts and the market-at-large was clear: They are successfully supporting and winning large enterprise customers, and will advance their march “up market” while they continue to support and win customers in the middle market segment. The message was delivered explicitly during the presentation to analysts, and in a more nuanced fashion on the conference stage via presentations from leaders of both customers and non-customers at firms with tens of thousands of employees – all supporting Greenhouse’s core messages.

With an Open Spirit of Transparency

When we say that Greenhouse will continue its “march,” we mean just that. Having followed them since their launch in 2013*, they have been consistently deliberate in setting goals they can achieve, and in meeting customer expectations. Their message of this being the time and place where they will both accelerate and sustain growth in the enterprise segment has more to do with their thoughtful understanding of when and where they can be successful, based on their experience with customers in that segment, than it does their desire to win every deal. Greenhouse is open and transparent with prospective customers about what they can and can’t do well.

Fortifying the Platform

Greenhouse launched in 2013 as an applicant tracking system (ATS) for small to middle sized businesses. Their target customers were high-growth environments and appreciated the impact that structured recruiting and the data it produces could have on their businesses. Since that time, they’ve rolled out new major apps/modules including onboarding, an events app, contact relationship management (CRM), and inclusion.

While features and modules are necessary to support larger customers, the move upmarket requires capabilities you won’t find in the product interface – capabilities in product infrastructure and in the company’s ability to deliver product and support to large global customers. The distributed nature of work today, where most businesses in the middle market have operations globally, has helped Greenhouse prepare. Greenhouse reports progress in several of these areas:

  • Infrastructure scale (global product performance)
  • Machine learning and AI driven predictive analytics, workflow automation, and decision support
  • HRIS integrations
  • Scheduling automation
  • Support for organizational structure via SSO, role-based approval APIs, etc.
  • Tiered reporting and data analytics offering – meeting customers where they are in people analytics maturity
  • Professional services and strategic consulting
  • Global compliance and capabilities (GDPR, customer support, language support, etc.)

Will Greenhouse ever ring the opening bell?

Since launch, Greenhouse has raised a reported $106.1 Million in venture capital. The most recent funding was their $50 million D round in 2018. They couldn’t be nailed down regarding any need or plans to raise more funds or their intentions around IPO. CEO Daniel Chait gave his version of “Whatever course we choose, by adding value for customers, we grow a more valuable business,” right out of the startup CEO playbook.

The high-level business metrics look good, and support their claims of moving upmarket aggressively:

  • Aggressive YoY revenue growth
  • 4,000+ customers
  • Operating in 61+ countries
  • 40% of Greenhouse customers have a global presence
  • 20% of Greenhouse customers are headquartered outside of the U.S.
  • Strong API and integration model delivering hundreds of integrations into the HR tech ecosystem
  • A go-to-market roadmap that puts sales and support headcount globally, starting soon with the EU

Meet The Talent Makers

Greenhouse’s vision is less about product and more about the heart and soul of recruiting and managing modern talent. It’s represented in the Open conference tagline, “Meet the Talent Makers.” Greenhouse defines a talent maker as a business leader that understands that recruiting success – having the right people – equals business success. They posit that most leaders understand this, and may even live this, most don’t have a plan or strategy to connect talent ops with business results. It’s true. It’s accurate. It has been for the 30 years of my career in this industry. Getting business leaders outside of HR to align business results with recruiting and HR has been the Holy Grail of HR technology marketing and sales. It happens, but it’s rarer than it should be. It’s a fabulous marketing message, and a terrific theme for a conference, but Greenhouse wants to go somewhere much more ambitious with it.

An Ambitious Vision For The Future

Greenhouse is now embarking on a plan that will first build awareness of the concept, then enable global leaders across the enterprise with learning, and eventually productize the idea into the Greenhouse platform. They started with a pilot of learning workshops for COO/CEOs, CROs, and CTOs – primarily at startups – where the content and message was well received. Now, they’re looking to educate the market more broadly and in their new large enterprise target market.

The message resonates well. No one teaches hiring in business school, yet it’s arguably the thing that will make your business more competitive and successful than almost anything else you do. However, this kind of market education and building of a movement is expensive – it’s not a short term proposition. It’s a long game that requires a marketing and delivery operation both in addition to and far above and beyond what you need to have in place to sell your product. It’s also difficult to scale. Sure, startup COO/CEOs, CROs, and CTOs are motivated to get in a room with the CEO and President of Greenhouse, but if you’re going to take this to market, those aren’t the people that are going to deliver this content. Moreover, when you put it online, it falls into just another vendor offering their view of the world as it fits within their product suite.

The Value Is There

HRWins has done a substantial amount of research over the last five years with leaders outside of HR, understanding their perception of the value of HR and recruiting functions and the technology that supports them. The good news, there is an increasing and overwhelming understanding of the impact that it has on the organization. There is also an overwhelming consensus that improving in people-related areas like diversity, inclusion, hiring, culture, and more has a direct financial impact on the business. The key word there is “perception.”

We have leaders outside of HR that attribute business success to having the right teams, cultures, and people programs in place – but, it’s more of a feeling in hindsight. They feel “lucky” to have ended up with such great leaders and teams. They know what it takes to build great operational processes, learning it in school and on the job. However, they feel their way through hiring. On the other hand, we have HR and recruiting leaders that know how to build an excellent HR process; however, most struggle with articulating its business value and aligning it with broad operational goals.

Could Now Be The Time?

More and more leaders outside of HR and recruiting understand the value that good people policy, practice, and programs can add to the business. At the same time, we’ve noticed a rapid shift in HR and recruiting leadership. The transformations happening across enterprises everywhere are happening in HR and recruiting, too. Leaders are more digitally native than they were just a few years ago, and they expect more from their systems and their data. 77% of the millennials that we surveyed in the 2019 Workplace Intelligence Report set strategy and budget for people-related initiatives, and they overwhelmingly see the direct financial contribution of people-related initiatives. Maybe the convergence technology and social change that is transforming business and culture everywhere will now result in the emergence of a new breed of leaders – the talent makers. Maybe.

One Thing Not Open For Debate

Given the moves Greenhouse continues to make scaling into the global enterprise market, competitors should expect to see them in more deals, and winning their fair share.

*Disclosure: In the past, Greenhouse has sponsored HRWins reports, and received advisory services.