Flying under the Radar SilkRoad raises $35M in Round C

Despite the recent acquisitions of Taleo by Oracle and SuccessFactors by SAP, the talent management software market is far from mature. Today SilkRoad, one of the more quiet (not for long) talent management software vendors, announced a $35 Million Series C round of funding.

The new investors include Keating Capital (Nasdaq: KIPO) and NTT Finance (NYSE: NTT), among others, who invested in the oversubscribed round. (Existing SilkRoad investors include Intel Capital, Crosslink Capital, Foundation Capital, Azure Capital and Tenaya Capital.)

SilkRoad intends to use this new funding to support their continued successful worldwide expansion along with R&D. A portion of the funds will also be allocated towards the preparation for a potential 2012-2013 IPO.

Founded in 2005 with the intent to focus upon the SMB marketplace – SilkRoad has demonstrated consistent sustained growth over the years. The company now has more than 400 employees, 20 global offices, and we estimate revenues in the $70 Million range.  For fiscal year 2011 the company grew at over 50% (faster than SuccessFactors, Taleo, or Cornerstone, the three publically traded companies).

Interestingly, despite having a primary focus upon the SMB market – SilkRoad can lay claim to having 12% of the Fortune 500 as customers. The company offers a complete suite of talent management products (branded as their LifeSuite®) that includes; recruiting, onboarding, performance, learning and even a core HRMS system.

SilkRoad’s core HRMS solution (HeartBeat) is an high-potential play into the HRMS space. While not as robust as the offerings from Oracle or SAP, this less than 1-year old solution has been gaining traction and now has over 25 live customers. For small and mid-sized companies an integrated HRMS provides huge value.  Most of these companies are relying on their payroll provider for their HRMS, so implementing an end-to-end HRMS and talent management suite provides huge benefits.

The HRMS market is white hot now, as companies look at Workday, Oracle Fusion, and SAP Employee Central (still a work in progress) as potential alternatives to their decades-old creaky HR applications. In fact I have talked with three other startups working on “next-generation” HRMS solutions in the cloud.

What really differentiates SilkRoad is the company’s onboarding system (RedCarpet). It is fair to call SilkRoad the proverbial 800lb gorilla in the onboarding market. With more than 650 live customers, including companies such as IBM, Toyota, T-Mobile and Eaton, RedCarpet has become a true Enterprise class solution worthy of consideration for any organization’s onboarding/life change management needs.

Think a little bit about all the “onboarding” and “transition management” going on in your company. How do you make sure people get access to the right systems, information, education, and training they need when they change roles? The chances are you’re leaving it up to the employee and manager. With solutions like RedCarpet this entire process, and the related workflow and content, is fully automated and enabled by technology. I can’t think of a company that doesn’t need such a solution.

Fig 1: SilkRoad RedCarpet

With all of the spotlight grabbing actions created by this year’s M&A activity, it can be very easy to forget that there are other solution providers out there that have excellent offerings in corporate talent management (SilkRoad, PeopleFluent, SumTotal, Halogen Software, ADP, and many others).

With continued unique innovations in sourcing (talent acquisition) and an impending mid-year release of a centrally integrated social solution (to be called Point), SilkRoad continues to quietly inform the market that they intend to be a formidable competitor. And I wouldn’t expect them to be quiet for long.