Today, we’re thrilled to announce that Paradox raised $200 million in Series C funding from a dream list of investors — co-led by Stripes, Sapphire, and Thoma Bravo, with participation from Workday Ventures, Willoughby Capital, Twilio Ventures, Blue Cloud Ventures, Geodesic, Principia Growth, DLA Piper Venture Fund and current investor Brighton Park Capital.
We’re honored to have these investors as partners who share our vision for the future. But this raise was never about parading around a list of impressive investors. It wasn’t about the dollars raised or the valuation. It wasn’t about headlines to make a big PR splash.
Instead, it was entirely about building.
Building our team, building for our clients, and building toward this big, crazy idea that conversational AI could make recruiting and HR software feel invisible.
“What if we could help people spend time with people, not software?”
I started my career as an HR practitioner. And I’ve always believed — at my core — that if you get the people thing right, you can build teams that change the world.
I have deep respect for the work that TA and HR teams do. At the end of the day, a company cannot be successful if those teams can’t do their jobs at the highest possible level. That’s been true forever, but it’s particularly true in today’s hiring environment.
If you’ve been around Paradox long enough, you’ve probably heard me tell my “pebble in the shoe” story a few times. But for those who are new to Paradox (or haven’t heard the story), let me borrow a few minutes to share it.
I’ll start by taking you back to 2016 — just before we formed Paradox.
That year, I was visiting a client and walked into a room of recruiters. I expected to see an office bustling with people on the phone, talking to candidates. Instead, you could hear a pin drop. These recruiters — all passionate people who got into recruiting because they love connecting amazing people to great jobs — weren’t talking to anyone. They were tethered to their desks, managing process stuff — screening resumes, sending endless follow-up emails and reminders, frantically scheduling (and rescheduling) interviews.
They were servants to process and software. Their jobs had become more about managing cumbersome tasks than spending time with the people who could change their company.
Watching those recruiters in that room five years ago drove me nuts. And that experience ultimately led to the fundamental insight that still drives Paradox today: We cannot create a future where we’re servants to software or technology — building more and more tools that we have to manage, and adding more and more work to our plate. Instead, software should be doing the work for us. It should make things simpler, easier, faster. It should free us up to focus on the things that matter most.
And in recruiting and HR, that’s spending time with people, not software.
Everyone deserves an assistant
Having an insight is one thing. Building something functional to address it is another.
As we began thinking about what to build to address this “pebble in the shoe” problem, we started with a simple question: If we could give every recruiter, hiring manager, and talent professional an assistant, what would that assistant do?
Initially, we landed on a few obvious tasks that were relatively transactional and consistent across different roles:
- Answering repetitive candidate questions
- Screening applicants for occupational requirements
- Scheduling (and often rescheduling) interviews
- Sending reminders to complete paperwork or accept offers
Our thesis was simple: If we could replace those tasks with a friendly, conversational assistant that just did the work for recruiters, hiring managers, and talent professionals, it would free up an enormous amount of time for more strategic, people-first work.
In a high-volume hourly environment where hiring managers do most of the recruiting work, that might mean managers having a few extra hours in the day to coach their team or go out of their way to please a customer. In a corporate, professional hiring environment where recruiters drive the process, it might mean recruiters having more time for better hiring manager intake meetings, a few extra hours to coach candidates after an interview, or extra time to respond personally to candidates who didn’t get the job.
So, that’s what we set out to build — and it eventually took the shape of what we call Olivia, a conversational AI assistant that’s helping companies like Unilever, Nestle, McDonald’s, CVS Health, and General Motors automate all kinds of recruiting and HR tasks through smart, simple, mobile-first experiences.
It’s been truly incredible to see this thesis come to life over the last few years. We recently shared a case study that Josh Bersin published on McDonald’s success with Paradox, which revealed that thousands of McDonald’s restaurants have cut time-to-hire by 60% in the hardest hiring environment in decades.
And then there was this quote in our press release from Gui Neves, Global Talent Acquisition Sourcing and Solutions Lead at Nestle:
“Olivia has been an incredible enhancement to our recruiting team’s day-to-day. Our ability to engage with candidates across 47 countries in 18 different languages 24/7 has been critical to achieving our hiring goals, especially when candidates prefer to schedule their interviews on weekends or after working hours. We look forward to our continued partnership and success with Paradox."
You don’t win the game by winning the early innings
Now, let’s go back to today’s news.
I’m deeply proud and grateful for what we’ve built. We’ve been fortunate to build an incredible team that works alongside incredible clients every day. If you told me when I was standing in that room of recruiters in 2016 that we’d build the fastest-growing company in HR tech in less than five years, I’m not sure I would’ve believed you.
But I don’t view today’s news as some big cause for celebration. You won’t see us popping champagne. No baseball team ever won a championship by winning the first three innings of game one — and we haven’t won anything yet, either.
When we created Paradox, we saw a future where software became invisible — driven by conversational experiences that untethered people from their desktop through an assistant who gets work done for them. That vision is clearly coming to life. But we’re not perfect. We’re not done. And there’s so much further we can push that vision.
As I look at what’s in front of us — where we can be better, what we can build, and what problems we can help our clients solve — I view today as a new starting line for Paradox. This new round of funding simply resets expectations of the future we can create with our clients.
We’ll continue to build the most innovative software in the industry. We’ll continue to challenge ourselves to measure our success by our client’s success. And we’ll do all of that while we grow and develop Team Paradox — the collection of people working tirelessly every day to create magical moments for our clients and their candidates.
We’re just getting started. And we’re so glad you’ve joined us for the ride. Now, it’s time to roll our sleeves up and get back to work.