Microsoft Alum and CEO of Seekout, Anoop Gupta -- NEXXT Exclusive

This is a NEXXT EXCLUSIVE Podcast from - HR's Most Dangerous Podcast.


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Chad: Okay, Joel. Quick question.

Joel: Yep?

Chad: What happens when your phone vibrates or your texting alert goes off?

Joel: Dude, I pretty much check it immediately. I bet everyone listening is reaching to check their phones right now.

Chad: Yeah, I know. I call it our Pavlovian dog reflex of text messaging.

Joel: Yeah, that's probably why text messaging has a fricking 97% open rate.

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Announcer: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, biased opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Joel: Welcome to a special edition of the Chad and Cheese Podcast. I'm Joel Cheeseman.

Chad: And I'm Chad Sowash.

Joel: On today's exclusive podcast we have Anoop Gupta on the show. Anoop,

welcome to the show.

Anoop: Hey, thank you so much Chad and Cheese.

Joel: You bet, you bet. Give us a little bit about you and history because it is pretty cool. And tell us a little bit about your country ... Company before we drop into ... Sorry I was reading a Trump article before I [crosstalk 00:02:33]. Tell us a little bit about your company and we'll get into some Q&A.

Anoop: Okay, so I'll start with the country. I came to the United States in 1980 to be my Ph.D. in Computer Science at Carnegie Melon. And after that I spent 11 years on the faculty of Stanford University. I did my first start up there, which Microsoft acquired in '97. Then 18 years at Microsoft including some really fun roles as reporting to Bill Gates as his technology advisor, running all of the business communication services there. And then two years ago I decided to resign and start SeekOut with my co-founder who was one of the key movers and shakers behind the Bing search engine. What SeekOut is about is talent identification that helps talent acquisition teams hire faster and with higher quality candidates. Some of the things we really emphasize are companies that are looking for diversity and that have deep interest in tech talent. So SeekOut's unique algorithms and custom filters helps high tech companies identify diverse talent for those hard to fill roles.

Anoop: We have something very special for GitHub. Our aggregated and enhanced to GitHub profiles and intuitive search helps companies find untapped tech talent. We have a unique insights feature that gives you insights on the competitive landscape and allows recruiters to become talent advisors in support of the hiring managers. So all pretty powerful stuff that I'd love to share more about as we go on.

Chad: So let me get this straight, let me get this straight real quick Anoop. So you reported to, probably talked to Bill Gates on a daily basis. Then you move to the recruiting technology space and you're talking to a couple of idiots like us. Is that how this worked out?

Anoop: No, not exactly.

Joel: Did you confer with a psychiatrist or a shrink before making such a move?

Anoop: So, you know, I did spend several hours a day with Bill during the couple of years I reported to him and it was ... I just learned so much from hearing the questions he would ask and how he would prepare and what he would do. Now my move into the talent space is somewhat circuitous. What we started with given my deep messaging background is how to make sure ... We are all going outside our immediate circles to find a better couriers or whatever else, so we created a messaging system that will let people who want to seek attention like recruiters and people who want to provide attention like candidates have a much more fruitful exchange than today. We look at LinkedIn as the middle man where they control who we can see unless we pay them. They control who we can message unless we pay them. And there is no fair exchange between the buyers and the sellers. So that's where we started with and then as we learned more we said, "This is such a noble mission."

Anoop: Right, we spend so much of our lives at the workplace. And what we do, who we work with, what impact we make is deeply meaningful and it finds purpose for us. So what better to do to allow people to make better matches and get them hired in the right places?

Joel: What activities did you do at Microsoft that you've carried over to the new company. Were you hands-on on recruiting or was it just sort of, you were there on the wall? Anything come from that experience in 18 years at Microsoft that is currently in the SeekOut product?

Anoop: So what is relevant there is, my role was as a hiring manager and my team in Unified Communications when I was running that was around 1,600 people. So when you're a hiring manager, you want to say what are the things I am interested in that the recruiters are not doing? What are the kinds of conversations that should happen between a recruiter or a sourcer and the hiring manager? So a lot of the product and particularly this people insights piece that I've talked about is that hiring manager/recruiter relationship and how data can lead to much more useful conversations and productive conversations than just saying, "Hey, tell me more about this role."

Chad: So now that Microsoft owns LinkedIn, and then you've got this side ... I would say somewhat of a competitor to LinkedIn, how does that work in the market? Do you see Microsoft trying to prospectively compete and/or create a SeekOut type of platform? Or are you really just possibly showing them a new way to go and prospectively get acquired?

Joel: And have they offered to buy the company yet?

Anoop: No, they have not offered to buy the company yet. See this is a huge space that is there on how we discover talent, how we communicate with them. We are taking a look at it from a broader landscape. The thing I like to say the CV as we put it with past position titles and education is a very limited representation of who a person is, who is a candidate is. So when we, in the case of GitHub, look across 60 million repositories and bring out the contributions that a particular person has made and the hiring manager can look at that code in an instant and decide whether it is good, bad versus just a 15 minute interview. So bringing this unique information beyond just a LinkedIn resume into the candidate's profile and making it very easily searchable and then being able to reach candidates, I think makes us special and in some ways complimentary. And something long-term we think even LinkedIn ought to be doing.

Joel: Anoop, is it fair to put the Entelo, the Hiring Solved, Nameri, those companies, would you count them as a competitor?

Anoop: Yes. Entelo is used in a similar way and Hiring Solved too. We think we bring some very unique capabilities compared to all of these companies, but yes we are in the same space.

Joel: And what would some of those unique qualities be, for our viewers? Our listeners largely know who Entelo and some of these players are. How are you different?

Anoop: We are different, one is in terms of how we do GitHub and how we let people find talent. So if you look at Entelo and many of these other search engines you look at a profile and then there will be the GitHub symbol so you can go to the GitHub profile. And very often when you go there you'll find nothing useful there. Instead we let you start from the GitHub site. We built an aggregated profile that has the public information that people often search with, current company, current title, past company, past title, skills. But we also bring in information from the GitHub profile. We bring in information from each ... We will tell you, this person was the number tenth contributor to the tensor flow Google, which is Google machine learning framework that is there. So we'll bring out their contributions. We will bring out their email.

Anoop: So we bring together information that nobody else does. GitHub is a totally unique solution on how we let you source on SeekOut. Similarly, the people insights piece that we have, you can use 20 filters to control what is the competitve of a candidate talent pool landscape you want to look at. Nobody else provides that in that flexible and powerful way. Diversity we and Entelo are very similar. You might have seen a source gone paper by Phil Hendrickson, so we are pretty similar. But I believe Entelo and us are the only two people who are doing the deep analysis on diversity and letting you search and filter in powerful ways.

Joel: So we'll get into diversity here in a minute, but when you take a look at the actual platform, obviously that SeekOut has, would you classify it more as a proactive where a recruiter has to jump into the system and actually do a search against skillsets and job descriptions and pre-reqs; versus a reactive system that reacts to what your needs are when you post an actual requisition into your system?

Anoop: So it is a search tool primarily for passive candidates who may not be looking. So we are not like Monster or something where people have just said, "Hey right now I'm looking for a job or a position." Within that, there is a lot of judgment that is there on equal skillsets and so it is a place where people come to search. But we have built into some pretty cool AI machine learning capabilities inside that. For example if you were to say you're looking to hire a data scientist for Facebook. So what we do behind the scenes is we look at everybody who is currently a data scientist at Facebook, then we look at what were their past companies, what were their past titles, what were their universities, what were their majors, what are their skills and we cannot automatically surface people for you. And then with a single click you say show me African American candidates that will be suitable and we'll bring those up. It's very very powerful. We call this the position magnet in SeekOut.

Joel: So that's where the diversity piece comes in. Where you can actually do a deep search against backgrounds per se, and then you have it broken out with, I would say gender as well as race and prospective Veteran status and those types of things?

Anoop: Yes, exactly. That is true. And we do pretty complex things. Just so you know to use as an example our African American filter. We used historically Black colleges and universities. We use African American sororities and fraternities, if you're a member. We use membership in organizations like National Society of Black Engineers or National Black Accountants Associations. We also look at the census bureau and turns out that certain names are much more likely to be African American. We also use that information so these are fairly sophisticated queries that we look at index time to surface candidates. This is not a perfect filter or analysis by any chance, but it can be super helpful to recruiters.

Chad: You talked some about AI, which obviously you have some experience in working at Microsoft. We talk a lot about on the show in terms of automation. A lot of companies out there are trying to create an easy button, if you will, for recruiting. I need a Ph.D. developer with five to eight years experience in Seattle, go. And it goes out to the web, searches people, bring them back, prescreens them with