Euro Tech Gets Cash
The checks being written in 2023 may not be as big as the ones in 2022/21, but there sure are a lot of them already. That's why the boys play an EXTREME version of Buy-or-Sell on this episode, including HR Bot Factory, Amalia.io, awork, Arctic Shores, Huler and Gigged.ai. Our friends at Textkernel get "wise" with their recent acquisition and Wales embraces pay equality with the world's most popular sport. Oh yeah, and House of HR CEO Rika Coppens is still a total bad-ass, and she has the hardware to prove it.
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INTRO: 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, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up, boys and girls. It's time for The Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Joel: Oh, yeah. Microsoft held an invite-only Sting concert for execs in Davos the day before the company announced layoffs of 10,000 employees. I wonder if the song, "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" was played. Hey, kids, it's The Chad and Cheese Podcast Does Europe. I'm your co-host, Joel "King of Pain" Cheeseman.
Chad: This is Chad "Show Me the Money" Sowash.
Lieven: And I'm Lieven "If I had any Leopard tanks I would give them to Ukraine" Van Nieuwenhuyze.
Joel: And on this episode, Textkernel goes shopping, extreme buy or sell. And Wales just isn't the home of Chad's favorite show, it's a whole lot more. Let's do this.
Joel: What's up, guys?
Chad: Whatever happened to the Europe has a bunch of countries in it sound effect? Have you moved away from that one? 'Cause I noticed how you moved toward and away from sound effects.
Joel: I could put it in. I thought...
Chad: No, I'm just...
Joel: I thought the transition.
Chad: This is up for conversation, that's all.
Joel: The transition is kinda sexy. It's kinda...
Chad: It's hard hitting like our news.
Lieven: That's true.
Joel: It is true.
Chad: So let's get to the shoutouts. This is already off the rails.
Joel: Right. Well, we shouldn't record this on Monday. We're way off. We're way off on Monday. I'll go ahead and go first because I need a little bit of Sweden to get me going.
Joel: Oh, yeah.
Lieven: Here we go again.
Chad: I like a little Abba.
Joel: Let's talk a little Sweden, shall we? In case you missed it, a Swedish mining company said last week that it had found Europe's largest known deposit of coveted rare earth metals critical to many green technologies, including electrical vehicles and windmills. The world's production of rare earths is currently dominated by China, but this discovery by LKAB, a state-owned company creates the prospect that Europe could over time develop a domestic source of these minerals. Norwegian oil and now Swedish minerals, not since the Swedish bikini team has the continent nay the world been so excited. My shoutout goes to Sweden.
Chad: It's nice to see Europe actually looking to take care of themselves.
Joel: Suck it, dictators.
Chad: I'm gonna go ahead and give a shoutout to the Polish, English, and for the Germans too, it looks like turned their head to allow this to happen. But it looks like Ukraine's gonna be getting Challenger tanks and Leopard 2 tanks so they can actually start what Joel likes to call a full frontal.
Joel: Did you say a full frontal?
Speaker 6: What are you doing, step bro?
Chad: If anybody has outshined the entire world during this whole fucking predicament where Russia invaded, it's been the Polish. They've taken in millions of Ukrainians. And this isn't even the government, just house-by-house. The communities have been taking in the Ukrainians. So now they're looking to send Leopard 2 tanks to the battlefield, and that's awesome. That's great to hear.
Joel: Now we just need some Abrams tanks from the good old US of A to really change the complexion of this battlefield.
Chad: That would hurt things more than anything else. They have way too many weapon systems and not enough people to be able to learn all those different weapon systems. All of the tanks that they're going to be stealing from Russia as those motherfuckers run toward the border, they're gonna have plenty of tanks.
Lieven: Yeah, but you can send some soldiers as well, huh? Give them a few hundred Abram tanks with the soldiers to drive them or something, no?
Chad: That's an entirely different discussion. [chuckle]
Joel: Amazing how the change of uniform can make a Polish soldier into a Ukrainian soldier real quick.
Lieven: It's almost the same language. Nobody would notice.
Joel: The Germans.
Chad: I think the Russians would notice, but go ahead.
Lieven: Nobody would believe them. They always lie.
Chad: That's a very good point. Good point, Li. I like how you think. That's very good. [chuckle] You could be propaganda minister for The Chad and Cheese.
Lieven: I'd be so good in being a propaganda minister for any case, basically.
Joel: You'd be a...
Joel: You'd be good at anything counterintelligence, propaganda. Yeah.
Lieven: Oh, well, I'll just stick to Reddits and being myself there. Anonymous.
Chad: Do you have a shoutout you'd like to share?
Lieven: Of course I have a shoutout. You all know Rika Coppens, CEO of House of HR?
Joel: Of course.
Lieven: The Rika Coppens from the House of HR? She was elected Manager of the Year last week or two weeks ago. Time flies.
Joel: Yes, she was.
Lieven: Manager of the year is quite a big thing in Belgium. So now, she's big in Belgium. She's always been big in Belgium, but now she's really big in Belgium. The award was handed over by the Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo.
Chad: That was awesome.
Lieven: Yeah, it's pretty... It was really impressive. But of course the fun thing was, it's a HR company whose CEO was selected to become Manager of The Year, and that's the important thing. People are starting to realize that we work in an environment which changes lives for a good thing, etcetera. So, it's a good thing.
Chad: Yeah. You sent a video of that, and that was a big to-do. It was in this big...
Joel: Yeah, it was.
Chad: Theater on stage. It had the...
Chad: You said the prime minister.
Lieven: It's a big event.
Chad: That was a big, big event. And was she the only female amongst the individuals looking... Who was being voted for Manager of the Year?
Lieven: There were 10 nominees, two females...
Lieven: Eight males.
Lieven: So, still a bit dominant. [chuckle]
Chad: Yeah, 80-20 rule, Jesus.
Lieven: But Rika won of course.
Lieven: And in fact, I don't think she won because she's female.
Lieven: Even though it helps these days that we all know that being White males, we are constantly discriminated, but [laughter] she didn't win because she's female. She's just very, very, very good.
Chad: [chuckle] Discriminated.
Joel: Lieven needs a hug.
Lieven: Yeah. We are constantly discriminated. Today, being male and White and... [laughter] It's hard. It's really hard.
Chad: It's the privilege being knocked out of your face, is what you're used to. [laughter] It's like, "Oh, is that what the world really looks like?" Yeah. Look, it took a little bit of Lieven's privilege from him. Poor guy.
Joel: Is there any like Will Smith style slaps on Chris Rock that goes down at Belgian award shows?
Lieven: No, no, no. We're very serious people. We're nice to each other. We don't slap people around when there are cameras.
Chad: When there are cameras.
Joel: We only wage a World War every 50 years, that's all.
Lieven: Yeah, it's not our fault.
Joel: That's true. You are the welcome mat for all the world's ills.
Chad: The welcome mat.
Chad: Everybody clean your feet off on Belgium before you come into Europe, okay?
Joel: How amazing to get past Belgium after the beer. It's like, "Have a beer and stay a while." Geez. Don't...
Joel: Invade? What? Have a Duvel, you'll feel better.
Chad: Well, I'll tell you what, later this year, we're gonna be invading Belgium again.
Joel: Yes. Yes. Via Amsterdam.
Chad: Ooh, yes. Yes.
Joel: Traveling to the... House of HR, you're moving out of Belgium up north into Holland.
Chad: The e-recruitment Congress.
Joel: Cause chaos like Amadeus.
Lieven: Amsterdam, November 14th. Save the date, save the location, and we'll see you there.
Joel: I'll be there.
Lieven: And basically, just a quick question. I'm still looking for very good speakers. We have plenty of them, but I need the best. So if anyone has a suggestion, anyone listening to the show today, if you have a suggestion, let me know. The theme will be... And it's still a working title, but I'm going to give it away already; "Manage your recruitment like a web shop." That's basically the idea. It's about convincing people to apply. We use the same technologies as when you convince people to buy a product or to buy a service. It's about managing your recruitment as a web shop. It's about authority, about speed, about convenience, about trust, etcetera. Which tools can we use for our recruitment as well? So if you know many speakers who might be a great fit, if you saw someone at the Congress somewhere, please let me know. Lieven@houseofhr.com, and you'll get two free tickets if you give me a great speaker.
Joel: Lieven just opened Pandora's box and made a call for open nominations for speakers to come to his event.
Chad: With his email.
Joel: With his email address. Have fun with that, Lieven.
Lieven: Did I say Lieven?
Lieven: I meant... No, no.
Joel: No, I'm sure you're gonna get some responses of people who would like a little exposure for their CEOs or...
Lieven: Yeah, we even pay our speakers.
Joel: Some podcast whores looking for stuff.
Chad: Now you're definitely gonna get emails. Jesus.
Lieven: No, it's not like some other congresses, if you buy a sponsor pack, you can get a place on the stage. It's not like that. We actually choose our speakers and we pay them. It's a different approach. It's about content.
Joel: Very selective.
Chad: About content.
Joel: Very selective.
Joel: Much like the news on our show.
Joel: All right. Our friends at Textkernel, a company that provides semantic search and matching technology for recruiting and staffing, in case you haven't been paying attention, acquired WiseGuys, a subsidiary of Coosto, a social media monitoring platform. WiseGuys provided the crawling technology and raw data used in Textkernel's job feed product, which the two companies had been working on in partnership for the past 20 years. The acquisition was made to own this part of the product and remove dependencies as well as to have more control over the product's roadmap for expanding coverage and potentially looking at other sources of data. This was Textkernel's third acquisition in the past 12 months. You might remember a little acquisition called Sovren that actually happened, I think, two years ago. Chad, you spoke with Textkernel CEO, Gerard Mulder in depth about this acquisition. What's up?
Chad: Yeah, it just makes sense. They've been working with this organization for 20 years to be able to build a product, a labor market information type of a product. Obviously, they really wanna go heavy into the market with this product in 2023. So, instead of having a partner, have that partner be a part of the organization, they saw that it was a great point in time for both companies to be able to go through the acquisition process. Again, this is nothing new. It's just being able to, instead of saying that you do a certain thing, but yet you have an outside vendor or partner do it, you're actually going to bring that in-house and do it yourself. And we've seen some companies over the years actually do this; either they kick the vendor out because they've developed their own or they bring the organization in through acquisition. So, very smart play. And as we have been talking about, I really think 2023 is going to be not the year of funding, but the year of mergers, acquisitions and consolidations.
Joel: This is some of the most Dutch shit I've ever heard. [chuckle] I mean, the Dutch are conservative people, but 20 years, 20 years, I mean, shit. Textkernel has super smart people running things. Gerard has been on our show. Look, they have serious financing through Maine Capital. Their history of acquisitions, hello Sovren, has been solid. So you know that they've made a good buying decision with the buy of WiseGuys. It's obviously a solid one. After 20 years of shopping, I hope that they've made a good decision. I don't even need to check out WiseGuys, knowing how thoughtful Gerard and his team are. I know this is a solid acquisition, probably too conservative for my American taste. I usually like to buy within 30 days or so. But nevertheless, this is a sound buy. Textkernel does not act outta turn. They've done their homework. This is gonna be a good acquisition like all the others.
Lieven: No, I agree. I mean, Textkernel knows what they're buying from a client's perspective, and that's more than most companies can say when doing M&A. So if you've been a client for 20 years, then you probably know the company. And if they still wanna buy it, it must be a very good deal. I don't really know about the revenue of WiseGuys or the business model. No idea, really. But I like the company. They're very technology driven, and if they have been supplier for 20 years, the match must be perfect.
Chad: Yeah. But if you take a look at Textkernel though and their growth, you're starting to see obviously the acquisition of a huge player in the market, Sovren. And then they come across the pond very strong. Then you have the entrance of Maine Capital, obviously. So, they do have the cash that's there. To me, as I think Joel was pointing out, this is just perfect from a timing standpoint. And instead of having to worry about possibly that partner getting gobbled up or acquired by somebody else, and then screwing your entire product, just own it yourself.
Joel: Lieven, I gotta know. The term "wise guy" in America either refers to a gangster or a smart ass. If I say "wise guy" to you as a European, what do you think?
Lieven: I think I know both of the explanations, but I would think smart guy, mostly.
Joel: Smart guy.
Lieven: But also, the wise guys, it has something to do with the FBI or Wise Guy. It reminds me of the movies, Wise Guy. I'm not sure exactly what.
Chad: Wise Guys, yeah, they're being watched by the FBI.
Lieven: Okay. Like that.
Joel: Maybe a little lost in translation with the name, WiseGuys.
Lieven: But "wise guy" sounds like a smart ass.
Joel: All right. Well, let's take a quick break and get to, God help us, Extreme Buy or Sell.
Speaker 6: Europe has a bunch of countries in it.
Joel: All right, guys. I hope you ate your wheaties on this one, or had your croissant. We're gonna do some Extreme Buy or Sell.
Joel: Our listeners know what that means. Typically, it means three companies, all startups, usually that have gotten money recently. And then I read a quick summary and then everybody buys or sells the business. We're gonna go from three to six, just because that's how much startup cash is flowing into Europe. Are you guys ready for a little extreme buy or sell?
Chad: Let's do it. [chuckle]
Lieven: It's not a little buy or sell, it's like a huge buy or sell.
Joel: It's a huge...
Lieven: It's extreme. Extreme, yeah.
Joel: Huge buy or sell.
Lieven: Huge buy or sell.
Joel: Yeah. And it deserves a drum roll, is how much extreme this thing is. All right, let's talk about HR Bot Factory. Nothing to do with C+C Music Factory. Spain-based HR Bot Factory has raised €1 million in a Series A. Well, that's a hell of a Series A, €1 million. All right. The funding will be used to expand internationally. First, to the UK, and later to the US. The company had revenue of more than €500,000 in 2022, and is aiming to increase it to €1.2 million this year. Prior to this, they had secured seed funding to the tune of €650,000. That was January of 2022. All right, Chad, HR Bot Factory gonna make you sweat. Is it gonna make you buy or sell?
Chad: One word, ChatGPT. It's a sell for me.
Joel: All right. We got a sell from Sowash. All right. I can't decide if these guys are a paradox for Spanish or poor man's talk push. Either way, I think they're too little, too late to the ball game. Good luck with everyone's sloppy seconds in the chatbot automation space. HR Bot Factory. Yeah, it's also a shitty name, and it's also a big sell from yours truly.
Lieven: I'm gonna follow. We do have some experience with HR chatbots technology. We use Dora the Chatbot, and it takes some time to get everything right, but once it's right, it's perfect. It really saves time. If it wasn't for ChatGPT thing, I would say maybe a buy. But I agree with Chad, this isn't the right time to be investing in someone who is not ChatGPT.
Joel: That's three sells for HR Bot Factory, but that's just our first startup, guys. Let's go to number two. Huler. UK-based Huler has raised £2 million to further develop its employee experience platform, as well as create 12 new jobs at the company. The platform, which acts as a launchpad bringing together different programs, apps, and content that employees require says the funding will help them drive further growth in the UK and internationally. Chad, Huler, Huler, Huler, buy or sell?
Chad: So, this is for all those big, ugly ass platforms that have acquired several point solutions over the years and need a facelift. I love the idea of working in a single tab instead of popping open new tabs every time I go from one point to the next in your HCM. I'm a big fan of better UX, and this will continue to be a problem most enterprise systems are making. So Huler, I think, is going to be a great target for acquisition in the coming months. So, this is a buy for me.
Joel: All right. Basically, turn your company's intranet, the place no one wants to go anyway, into an iPhone interface. I'm sure it makes the branding folks feel really good about themselves. But is this thing as transformative as they make it sound? Not in my opinion. It's like my kid eating sugar, pumps you up for a few hours and then crash, which is exactly where I think this company is going. I am a sell on Huler. Lieven, break the tie.
Lieven: So poetic. You stole my whole iPhone thing. I was going to say I already have an iPhone, sell. Basically, this is what my iPhone can do. So, sell.
Joel: All right.
Chad: First off, still going through on your iPhone on a lot of those human capital management systems is still going to suck. So, I don't care if you have an iPhone, you have a Droid or whatever you have, it's still a shit process.
Lieven: You can buy, we sell.
Joel: We're moving on. We're moving on. We're moving on. This is extreme, baby. We gotta move fast.
Joel: All right, so...
Lieven: Gigged. [chuckle]
Joel: Good Lord, this is off the rails already. All right. Gigged.ai, a Glasgow-based startup.
Speaker 7: Welcome to all things Scottish. Our slogan is, "If it's not Scottish, it's crap."
Joel: Gigged.ai has raised £1.6 million in seed funding for its AI-powered recruitment software that matches people with relevant technology skills to suitable hiring companies, and provides an overview of a business' current talent capabilities to prevent unnecessary hires. The funding round was led by Par Equity and will be used to build out its team remotely and expand its Glasgow and London offices. The platform is already being used by the BBC. Chad, are you buy or sell on Gigged.ai?
Chad: Okay. So the CEO has great experience with Allegis and tech systems. So he has experience in this space, understands the gap for tech and giggers. I like it. I like it a lot. Not to mention it's outta Glasgow and it's Scottish. So, it's a buy for me.
Joel: All right. Hey, it's a sourcing platform which would've been cool about five years ago, but not so much today. We spent most of 2021 talking about how sourcing is being commoditized. While SeekOut, hireEZ and HiringSolved and the others have pivoted, here we are back to the future with Gigged.ai. Like most things Scottish, they wanna launch something after it's been popularized and call it innovation. [chuckle] I say, nope, this is a sell from me. Break the tie, Lieven.
Lieven: Okay, okay. Well, it is from Glasgow. It has Gig in its name, it has AI in its name, so it should be an easy buy, but it's focusing on matching people with relevant technology skills with suitable companies. You can't match what's not there. If we find someone who's technically skilled, we don't need a matching platform. We need a telephone and we call seven clients and we can place it at seven places. [chuckle] So, no technology needed. So in this case, I love the idea, but no, it's a sell.