Zenjob nabs $50M for its student job matching marketplace

More money for casual job-matching in Europe: Zenjob, a marketplace platform that targets students looking for side jobs in sectors like retail, logistics and hospitality and promises to connect them with employers in need of temporary labor, has closed a $50 million Series D round of funding.

It’s just under two years since the Berlin-based startup raised a $30M Series C.

As with a number of other such ‘modern staffing agencies’, Zenjob directly employs temps — taking care of associated admin (like pay and back-office functions) to further simplify their experience. Another carrot it offers temp workers is a pledge that it’ll pay out half their salary within 72 hours after a fulfilled shift — potentially speeding up remittance vs a traditional agency.

On the flip side, employers sign a contract with Zenjob and can then book temporary staff as needed, including for both short and longer term jobs.

Zenjob says it works with “some of the biggest” companies in the delivery, retail, logistics, e-commerce, hospitality and service industries — but isn’t disclosing any customer names.

Currently, it says more than 2,500 companies, across 10,000+ locations in its two active European markets, are signed up to its platform to get temps on demand — with 40,000+ workers using the platform each month to book side jobs.

According to the 2015-founded startup it’s matched over 1M jobs across Germany and the Netherlands to date.

The Series D raise is led by Aragon with participation from all Zenjob’s existing investors including Acton Capital, Atlantic Labs, Forestay, and Axa Venture Partners.

The new funding is being pegged for expansion within Europe — including the UK market, where it plans to launch this summer — and for product dev, including new data-based automation features which it says are in the works to serve the needs of its expanding customer base, such as by supporting new ‘white collar’ style job categories.

“We are launching Zenjob in the UK this year and continue our investment in new European markets. We are also growing our operations in Germany and the Netherlands as well,” it tells us, adding: “We are growing our tech team and will heavily invest in the scaling and new automation features on our platform.

“Due to the heavy demand we will expand our offers in knowledge work and office jobs.”

Zenjob competes with a growing number of platforms targeting tech at job matching for temp roles — including the likes of Spain’s Jobandtalent, CornerJob and Luxembourg-based Job Today, to name a few.

Gig platform, Uber, has also been eyeing the space — launching a Work Hub for UK drivers back in 2020, as ride hailing took a demand hit during pandemic lockdowns; and a shift finder app, called Uber Works, in the US in 2019.

In the European Union, incoming regulations aimed at tackling bogus self employment on gig platforms — via a pan-EU legal framework that will set out a minimum standards for platform workers — could accelerate demand for agency-style temp staffing platforms by channeling demand for on-demand labor through staffing intermediaries that do directly employ them, thereby enabling the gig platforms themselves to avoid having to hire thousands of delivery and other casual workers.

Discussing the competitive landscape, Zenjob argues that technology will be the biggest differentiator when it comes to the staffing market, job matching and platforms.

“When you look at the market, we just scratched the surface when it comes to using technology to handle the tasks that make staffing and job search tedious and slow,” it suggests. “That’s why we focus a lot on the internal technological development of our platform and all required processes. We have currently roughly 75% fully automated processes and our aim is to get north of 95% in the near future.

“Our model works because our tech focus allows us to offer a very fast service with high quality personnel (thanks to the high degree of automation) to the companies that we work with. And we can offer high fulfilment rates and reliable personnel, because the other half of our business is focused exclusively on providing the best experience and benefits to our talents. We pay above market rates for the jobs that we offer and we care a lot about the experience and satisfaction among the more than 40,000 people who are currently using our app to book jobs at any time of the day.”

Zenjob also argues there is massive growth yet to be tapped — pointing to Germany as an example, where it says 95%+ of staffing is still done mostly offline.

“So we are competing with large companies that are approaching job matching and staffing in a very traditional way,” it adds. “Our approach is 100% digital and we are always working on improving the benefits that we can offer to the people who book jobs through us: Fast payments, 24/7 opportunity to book jobs.”

Amazon workers at two Chicago warehouses walk out to demand better treatment

This morning, dozens of warehouse workers at two Amazon facilities near Chicago staged a pre-Christmas walkout during the busiest time of the year to demand better treatment and higher wages.

“We have been passed over for raises. We are being overworked, even when there is sufficient people to work here,” a worker at the DLN2 facility in Cicero said on a livestream posted by the Amazonians United‘s Chicago chapter, which is not affiliated with Amazon. “We have not received the bonuses we were promised. There are people here who were hired as permanent workers, and then they took their badges away and made them temporary workers. They are staffing this place unsafely, making people work too fast, even though we don’t have to.”

These workers, who work between 1:20 AM and 11:50 AM, are also demanding a $5 per hour raise. Amazon told TechCrunch that the current starting pay is $15.80 per hour at the two facilities that staged walkouts, DLN2 in Cicero and DIL3 in Gage Park. The Amazonians United speaker also said that the facility used to have twenty minute breaks as a pandemic precaution, but these have been reduced to fifteen minutes. However, the pandemic is not over, especially as the omicron variant spreads — three workers tested positive for COVID yesterday at the Cicero facility, according to the speaker.

Before walking out, the workers presented management with a petition listing their demands, but they said they didn’t receive a response, thus prompting the walkout.

The speaker also claimed that workers were told by management that whoever participates in the walkout “might as well leave their badges,” meaning that they wouldn’t be coming back. It’s illegal to take action against the employees of private companies for staging a walkout. But employees reportedly returned after the strikes to find that their schedules were blank and they had been clocked out for the day, sparking concern about retaliation among walkout participants.

“We respect the rights of employees to protest and recognize their legal right to do so. We are proud to offer employees leading pay, competitive benefits, and the opportunity to grow with our company,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch in a statement.

The Amazon representative added that no workers are being fired or suspended due to their participation in the walkout. The company said that workers were repeatedly reassured that no retaliation would occur if they protested.

But across the country, Amazon workers have accused the company of trying to quash labor organizing. Last year, Amazonians United co-founder Jonathan Bailey filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), stating that the company violated labor laws by retaliating against him for organizing. He said he was detained and interrogated by a manager for 90 minutes after organizing a walkout. The NLRB found merit to these allegations and filed a federal complaint against Amazon. The company settled, and as part of the settlement agreement, was required to remind employees via emails and on physical bulletin boards that they have the right to organize.

Bailey’s complaint to the NLRB was one of 37 against Amazon between February 2020 and March 2021, according to NBC News. But just months after this settlement, Amazon was found to have unlawfully prevented a Staten Island employee from distributing pro-union literature in the break room.

Even corporate employees have filed complaints against Amazon with the NLRB. In September, the company settled a complaint from two former Seattle office employees, Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, who were terminated after advocating for warehouse workers at the onset of the pandemic. The settlement requires Amazon to compensate Costa and Cunningham for lost wages, and once again, notify employees of their right to speak out about issues at Amazon.

But in recent weeks, tensions have even further escalated. On December 10 in Edwardsville, Illinois, six Amazon employees were killed when a tornado destroyed the DLI4 facility. For years, Amazon workers weren’t allowed to carry cell phones on warehouse floors, but the company relaxed this policy during the pandemic. Recently though, Amazon began reinstating the policy. So, when the National Weather Service issued an emergency alert urging people to take shelter, some Amazon employees had no way of knowing that a lethal storm was on its way.

As Amazon workers in facilities across the country seek better compensation and conditions, the e-commerce giant is in the midst of its busiest time of the year.

“We will work hard to make sure that everyone gets their Christmas gifts, everyone gets their packages,” a Chicago warehouse worker told FOX 32 Chicago. “But, you know, we just want to be treated fairly. That’s all.”

Jobandtalent raises $500M Series E to keep scaling its ‘workforce as a service’ marketplace

Spain’s Jobandtalent, a “workforce marketplace”-cum-digital temping agency which uses AI to match workers to casual labor gigs in sectors like warehousing, ecommerce and logistics, has closed a $500 million Series E round of funding led by Kinnevik and with what it bills as a “significant” follow on by SoftBank VisionFund 2.

Existing investors including Atomico, DN, Infravia, Kibo and Quadrille also participated in the round — which the startup said values its business at $2.35BN (post-money).

Alongside the equity raise, the 2009-founded startup has secured another chunk of debt financing ($75M) from Blackrock.

Jobandtalent says the latest funds will be used to accelerate its expansion in key markets, including the US — its most recent focus. Earlier this year (March), it announced a $120M Series D (as well as $100M in debt financing) which it said it would use to enter the US.

Flush with Series E cash, it plans to “significantly” increase the size of its tech and sales team over the next two years, and also says it will add “key” exec roles — as it seeks to scale in the US and deepen its business in Europe.

Currently it offers a temporary labor service in nine markets globally: Spain, the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia and the US — matching workers looking for temp roles with employers in need of casual labor in (with a focus on sectors like manufacturing and logistics).

Jobandtalent is by far the largest job platform in Europe. We are just starting to grow in the US, and this round of funding will help us accelerate those plans and become market leaders there as well,” the startup told us.

Its gig-finding pitch also comes with a promise of “stability” for the temps on its books — via an AI-aided pipeline of “consistent work”; and benefits for temps that it says are more akin to being employed (and can include pensions, sick and holiday pay, health insurance, and training courses).

Temp workers apply for and manage roles, submit paperwork, sign contracts, and get paid via the Jobandtalent app — so it’s streamlining and taking over a range of back office functions for employers dealing with temps (who it directly employs) in addition to helping simplify the process of finding work (and, indeed, being paid for it) for those who rely on seasonal and/or temp gigs to earn a living.

Its UK website includes fairly visible links to a whistleblowing policy and a statement on modern slavery — as well as a link to (multi-lingual) instructions on reporting hidden labor exploitation.

The startup touts an average NPS score for workers on its platform of 56 vs an industry average that it says stands at just 18.

In the first nine months of 2021, Jobandtalent says its platform was used to match more than 100,000 workers to casual roles. (That’s up on since earlier this year, when it said more than 80,000 workers had used its marketplace to find temporary roles at that point.)

It also says more than 1,300 companies are now signed up to source workers via its platform, including DHL, FedEx, XPO, Ceva Logistics, eBay, IKEA, Kuehne & Nagel, JD Sports, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Argos and GLS — up from 850+ companies back in March.

Its business growth rate is 130% annually, with Jobandtalent adding that it’s been EBITDA positive since the second half of 2020. It also told us its annual revenue run rate is now more than €1BN.

“Even with the current pressure in the labour market, we are able to find and match workers with roles at a much higher success rate than other,” suggested Juan Urdiales, co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “We are excited to accelerate the expansion of our team and grow our presence in both new and existing markets — helping more workers find the jobs they want, and helping businesses fill the roles they need.”

Also commenting on the funding in a statement, Natalie Tydeman, senior investment director at Kinnevik, added: “Jobandtalent’s workforce-as-a-service platform is disrupting the modern labour market and placing people back at the centre of employment. By offering a personalised service driven by data and proprietary technology, Jobandtalent is simplifying the experience of finding work for thousands of people and transforming it for the better. We’re proud to be working with Juan and the team to accelerate the growth of the business.”

Biden’s labor secretary thinks many gig workers should be reclassified as employees

Biden Labor Secretary Marty Walsh charged into the white hot issue of the gig economy Thursday, asserting that many people working without benefits in the gig economy should be classified as employees instead.

In an interview with Reuters, Walsh said that the Department of Labor is “looking at” the gig economy, hinting that worker reclassification could be a priority in the Biden administration.

“… In a lot of cases gig workers should be classified as employees,” Walsh said. “In some cases they are treated respectfully and in some cases they are not and I think it has to be consistent across the board.”

Walsh also said that the labor department would be talking to companies that benefit from gig workers to ensure that non-employees at those companies have the same benefits that an “average employee” in the U.S. would have.

“These companies are making profits and revenue and I’m not [going to] begrudge anyone for that because that’s what we are about in America… but we also want to make sure that success trickles down to the worker,” Walsh said.

Walsh’s comments aren’t backed by federal action, yet anyway, but they still made major waves among tech companies that leverage non-employee labor. Uber and Lyft stock dipped on the news Thursday, along with Doordash.

In the interview, Walsh also touched on pandemic-related concerns about gig workers who lack unemployment insurance and health care through their employers. The federal government has picked up the slack during the pandemic with two major bills granting gig workers some benefits, but otherwise they’re largely without a safety net.

Reforming labor laws has been a tenet of Biden’s platform for some time and the president has been very vocal about bolstering worker protections and supporting organized labor. One section of then President-elect Biden’s transition site was devoted to expanding worker protections, calling the misclassification of employees as contract workers an “epidemic.”

Biden echoed his previous support for labor unions during a joint address to Congress Wednesday night, touting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act — legislation that would protect workers looking to form or join unions. That bill would also expand federal whistleblower protections.

“The middle class built this country,” Biden said. “And unions build the middle class.”

Offering a service that prioritizes the highest-paying gigs in the gig economy, Stoovo raises funding

Semih Korkmaz and Hantz Févry launched Stoovo in 2019 as a way to help gig workers make the best use of their time.

Févry, who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, knew first hand the struggles that come with part time work from his days as a student at Stonybrook University. While there bouncing from job to job, Févry would feel the sting associated with hidden fees, unkept promises, and variability of part-time labor.

The time at Stonybrook was also when Févry got his first taste of entrepreneurship. In 2010 and 2011 Févry said the Dean of the University’s business school let the budding business owner cut back on his hours so he could start iTrade International, an import-export business selling earthquake detection equipment in Haiti.

That first taste of tech and business development eventually landed Févry a job at Google in Hong Kong and offered him the chance to travel around the world. After a stint in Europe, Févry moved back to the U.S. where he set to work building Stoovo.

The question on his mind was this: How can we leverage technology to help gig workers or people taking short term assignments?

Févry and his co-founder Korkmaz envisioned Stoovo as a way to level they playing field by providing gig workers with information about the highest paying jobs available on the gig platforms at any one time. “What the platforms are doing is they are  optimizing to make sure that they’re responding to demand,” Févry said. “What we do is use the same approach to predict what will be the demand, where will be the demand, what will be the competition, and what’s the payout.”

The company’s software advises gig workers on the optimum time for using each service based on their earning criteria and hours, Févry said.

“We tell you when to start working, where you need to start working, and when you need to go when you need to take your break,” he said. 

But the company’s service isn’t only about optimization. There’s also a banking component and a suite of products to ensure that gig workers are also getting the most out of their gigs financially. The company offers a checking account, a tax management service, and lending services as well through services like BellBizzer, a Seattle-based company which offers a short-term rental service for consumer goods.

Both Korkmaz and Févry spent time working as delivery drivers or freelancing to get a feel for the challenges gig workers faced, Févry said. During lunch breaks at Google, Févry would do food deliveries to seewhat he could do so that he could understand how to make the gig economy work better.

Ultimately, the best solution would be to pay gig workers a fair wage for the time they spend doing their work, but barring that, technologically developed band-aids to help heal technologically enabled wounds seem like the only option.

Gig companies like Uber have a history of using their algorithms to wring more money from drivers — sometimes unbeknownst to the workers.

Back in August, a developer named Armin Samii created an app called UberCheats that monitored the UberEats application for a software bug to inform drivers if they were underpaid by the company for the distance they’d traveled to make a delivery. Last week, the app was taken down, but only because of a copyright infringement claim from Uber.


Stoovo and UberCheats seem to come from the same place. The idea is to equip workers with tools that can work for workers instead of for big platforms.

It’s this vision that attracted investors like Derek Norton from Watertower Ventures to invest in the company. To date, Stoovo has raised $2.4 million from investors including Watertower, 500 Startups, Plug and Play Ventures, and TSEF, Févry said.

With the money the company hopes to build out more products that can enable things like low-cost money transfers. Ultimately, the company just wants to give these gig workers a chance, Févry said.

“The gig economy is rife with frustrations,” Févry said, and Stoovo is making a pitch to smooth over the obstacles. “We really understand your life. We are also immigrants,” he said. “We know that of that $200… we know you have to send $40 overseas… We are building a product with [gig workers], we are not building for them.”

Jobandtalent tops up with $108M for its ‘workforce as a service’ platform

Madrid-based Jobandtalent, a digital temp staffing agency which operates a dual-sided platform that connects temp workers with employers needing regular casual labor in sectors like transport and logistics, has added €88 million (~$108M) to its Series C — bringing the total raised following an earlier (2019) closing of the round to €166M.

The 2009-founded startup has raised more than $290M to date over its decade+ run but describes itself as just at the beginning of a journey to make a dent in the massive and growing market for temporary work, expecting demand to keep stepping up as more sectors and processes go digital in the coming years.

Jobandtalent says more than 80,000 workers have used its platform to secure temp gigs in the last year across the seven markets where it operates in Europe and LatAm (namely: Spain, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Mexico and Colombia); while 750+ employers are signed up to “recurrently manage a large part of their workforce”, as it puts it, including XPO, Ocado, Saint Gobain, Santander, Bayer, eBay, Huawei, Ceva Logistics and Carrefour.

It’s focused on competing with traditional staffing agencies such as Adecco and Randstad, though other similar startups are cropping up to cater to an ever more precarious temporary employment market. (And Uber, for example, launched a shift-finder app experiment called Works, back in 2019, also targeting demand for on-demand labor — but doing so in partnership with staffing agencies in its case).

Jobandtalent reports the number of workers looking for temp jobs on its platform doubling every year, while it’s grown revenue to €500M and says it’s hit positive EBITDA.

The beefed up Series C funding will be put towards expanding into more markets and doubling down on growing its existing footprint, it said today.

“We will keep expanding through Europe and will consider some additional opportunities (the US and some LatAm countries),” co-founder Juan Urdiales told us, noting that its main markets remain Spain and the UK, while its main sectors are logistics, last mile, warehousing and transport.

The lead investor in the expansion tranche of its C round is new investor InfraVia, a French private equity firm, which is putting in €30M — investing via a Growth Tech Fund it launched last year that’s focused on European b2b high-growth tech companies.

Existing Jobandtalent investors, including Atomico, Seek, DN Capital and Kibo Ventures, also participated in the Series C top-up.

Urdiales said the reason it’s taken in another chunk of funding now is because of increased opportunity for growth as the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate demand for temping. “The reason why we are raising more is because we are seeing a high potential now to grow even faster than expected,” he told us. “The pandemic has helped us with both workers and employers in terms of adoption of our platform.”

“Covid has accelerated the transformation of many industries. We have seen more adoption of new technologies in the last nine months than in the last five years. The staffing market is experiencing a huge transformation that will be accelerated in the upcoming years, moving from brick and mortar traditional structures to data driven platforms that will improve the experience of both workers and employers,” Urdiales went on in a statement.

“This market is really big and we are just in the beginning of our journey (even though we have been a lot of years in the market now),” he added via email, discussing whether an IPO is on the business’ roadmap in the next few years. “We think that if we continue growing at the pace that we are growing now, and we add some private investors to help us with our growth plans, we may stay private for longer.”

Jobandtalent has been through a number of pivots since kicking off more than a decade ago with the idea of using technology to streamline the messy and consummately human business of recruitment. It started out testing a number of approaches before settling on a linguistics algorithm to parse job ads and create alerts to loop in passive job seekers.

Then in 2016 it pivoted away from enterprise recruitment to focus on mobilizing hiring for SMEs — zeroing in on the growing opportunity for temp job-matching offered by the rise of gig work fuelled by smartphone apps. From there, it’s been honing tools to cater to the needs of employers that are managing large temporary workforces.

The flip side of the rapid growth of ‘flexible’ platform-based labor — and Jobandtalent says it’s eyeing a pool of some 500M temp workers globally — is something that gig platforms don’t usually like to talk about: Worker precariousness.

But that’s something this startup says it wants to help with too. A key part of the proposition Jobandtalent offers to workers is increased benefits vs what a temp might otherwise expect to get.

The average gig platform does not offer a full suite of workers rights and benefits, just as they don’t provide a contractual guarantee of future shifts, as they classify on-demand labor as ‘self-employed’ — even as, simultaneously, they apply mobile technology to tightly manage this workforce (via data, algorithms and their own devices). 

This disconnect, between the level of gig worker rights and platform control, has led to a number of legal challenges in Europe — including in several of the markets where Jobandtalent operates (such as Spain, where Glovo continues to face legal challenges over its classification of delivery couriers, for example; and France and the UK, where Uber has lost a number of employment tribunals over driver status).

EU lawmakers are also eyeing conditions for gig workers — considering whether legislation is needed to protect platform workers’ rights. While some platform giants, like Uber, have already felt politically pressured to offer a level of insurance in the region.

Jobandtalent’s promise is it’s pushing for more perks for temps — leveraging the scale of its platform to get workers a better deal, including by making precarious work more steady (by lining up the next gig) and therefore less uncertain.

“All of the workers have access to the same benefits,” said Urdiales via email when we ask about how Jobandtalent’s perks are structured. “There are benefits such as advance payroll, health insurance, training courses, etc (not all the benefits are available in all countries, it depends on the level of maturity of each country).”

“We want to give any worker that starts working through Jobandtalent access to those benefits and offer a high standard employment treatment, so they have a similar status to what a perm employee has,” he added.

In a press release trumpeting its investment in Jobandtalent, new investor, InfraVia, also suggests the platform makes “temporary work a fulfilling professional step” — by defining “career plans” for temporary workers so they can “progress towards permanent and rewarding positions”.

However when we asked Urdiales what data it has on temp-to-permanent switches that have been enabled by its platform he said this is “not a common thing”.

“Employers are not looking to add workers to their perm workforces, and Jobandtalent is precisely trying to solve that for the workers, trying to give constant employment in different work assignments at different companies so they can find more stability,” he told us, adding: “The market is moving even more into a more precarious temporary employment market, and we believe that in this context a platform like the one that we are offering makes even more sense.”.

The other big carrot for workers to plug into Jobandtalent’s temp work marketplace is convenience: It takes a mobile app-based approach — offering a one-stop-shop for giggers to find their next shift, apply for the temp job (via in-app video interview), sign the contract and get paid, as well as access the touted benefits.

Its streamlining of admin around recruitment and payroll is also of course a key carrot for employers to get on board with Jobandtalent’s ‘workforce as a service’ proposition — which claims an upgraded offer (such as a CRM that bakes in analytics for tracking workforce performance in real time) vs traditional temping agency processes, as well as lower costs and increased numbers of job offers.

Its worker-to-temp job matching tech is designed to take the (temp) recruitment strain for employer customers via a proprietary quality worker scoring algorithm which it calls a Worker Quality Score (WQS).

Urdiales told us the criteria that feeds this score include attrition rate, absenteeism rate — and “some productivity metrics of the workers that we place” — when we asked for details, having found no information about the WQS on its website.

Algorithmic scoring of workers can have obvious implications for worker agency.

Nor is it without legal risk in Europe where EU citizens have rights attached to their personal data, such as access rights, and also (under the GDPR) a right to human review of any purely automated decisions that have a legal or similarly substantial impact on them (and decisions impacting access to work would be likely to qualify).

In a recent judgement, for example, a court in Italy ruled that a reputation ranking algorithm used by on-demand delivery platform Deliveroo had discriminated against workers because the code failed to distinguish between legally protected reasons for being absent from work (such as sickness or being on strike) and more trivial reasons for not turning up for a previously booked shift. (Deliveroo no longer uses the algorithm in question.)

Uber is also facing legal challenges in the Netherlands to its use of algorithms to automatically terminate drivers and to its use of data and algorithms to profile and manage drivers. While ride-hailing company Ola is facing a similar suit over its algorithmic management of gig workers. So EU courts are certainly going to busy interrogating the intersection of app-driven algorithmic management and regional data and labor rights for the foreseeable future.

The European Commission has also proposed a sweeping reform of the regional rulebook for digital services which includes a requirement for regulatory oversight of key decision-making algorithms with the aim of shrinking the risk of negative impacts such as bias and discrimination — although any new laws are likely still years out.

Asked whether Jobandtalent’s worker users are provided with their own WQS and given the chance to appeal substantial decreases in the score — including the opportunity to request a human review of any automated decisions — Urdiales said: “The platform gives them constant feedback based on the main metrics that they can affect (voluntary attrition, absenteeism, etc) with the aim to make them improve at work and consequently improve their ability to get more jobs in the future.”