After more than four years honing an algorithm that determines the expertise level and skill-set of corporate employees, WhoKnows has launched its business, raised a Series A round and joined a startup accelerator program of enterprise software company Citrix Systems Inc ., VentureWire has learned.
Early-stage venture firm PivotNorth Capital, run by sole general partner Tim Connors, led the $1.75 million round, with Citrix participating, said JT Sison, vice president of marketing and alliances at WhoKnows.
Julie Geer , spokeswoman for Citrix, confirmed that the startup joined its accelerator, which accepts startups on a rolling basis, and that it invested, but she declined to say how much.
WhoKnows is currently in pilot stages with a few large corporations, said Mr. Sison, but he declined to name them.
As part of the Citrix accelerator, the company will work with Citrix on how to best approach and sell into large companies, Mr. Sison said.
Citrix sells its own tool called Podio that allows employees to interact with each other and offers to solve some of the same problems addressed by WhoKnows.
By automatically monitoring employees’ searches, LinkedIn profiles and other resources, the WhoKnows software creates skills and expertise profiles for each person. It also aggregates them to show an organization a map of its knowledge, making it easier to identify gaps, as well as plan for promotions, layoffs, early retirement offers, and how best to integrate new staff after a merger.
“As you get over 1,000 employees you are unable to understand who knows what in the company,” Mr. Sison said.
That causes problems in the case of massive layoffs when companies can’t be sure the knowledge outgoing employees take with them is duplicated in the corporation. Not knowing who knows what also leads to inefficiencies, when specific employees waste time trying to find information to fill in a gap, when all they could do is walk over to a co-worker who could solve their issue.
Often, Mr. Sison said, when employees want to find out who might have a special skill in the organization, they turn to searching LinkedIn profiles.
Skill-based profiles, with expertise levels assigned, also could enable shy employees to shine. “It could be the quietest person who’s making the biggest impact,” Mr. Sison said, something that the engine of WhoKnows plans to make evident.
The algorithm developed by WhoKnows looks at LinkedIn profiles, as well as searches that employees make in Google and other places, and notes when others in a field refer to their work. Having tested its engine on some 10,000 people before launching the business, WhoKnows claims that it accurately determines the skillset and expertise level 92% of the time.
Mr. Sison acknowledged that some workers may dislike that their searches are monitored, or that software determines their expertise level, especially since it’s not always accurate and will miss information that’s not available digitally.
The engine works without making users download new applications or learning new applications. When someone searches Google , for example, for a technical term, the software would automatically pop into the results profiles of co-workers who know about this term and could be used for advice.
WhoKnows was started in Toronto and operated for four years there on a research and development basis, funded by founders. The founding team moved to Mountain View, Calif., earlier this year and hired a few people, including Chris Macomber, vice president of product, who was previously at camera maker Lytro Inc . and at Reputation.com . http://www.whoknows.com