Startup News: Deel acquires Zavvy amid consolidation wave in global HR business

There is no shortage of firms providing global payroll and other human resources services to companies large and small. To cut down on the clutter in the industry, many of these HR-related companies are merging.

Last week, San Francisco-based Deel announced it was acquiring Germany-based Zavvy for an undisclosed sum. In a post on LinkedIn announcing the deal, Deel wrote that “Zavvy’s secret sauce is its AI technology that makes personalized suggestions for career development.”

Deel added that it will be integrating Zavvy’s personnel management tools with Deel’s global hiring and payroll services into one platform, creating a bundled product called “Deel Engage.” This new offering will be available to all Deel customers for an additional $20 per user per month.

Alex Bouaziz, Deel’s CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch that his company now has annual recurring revenues of over $400 million and has been profitable for 18 months. He added that the company could go public sometime next year or in 2026. Deel was founded in 2018 and Forge lists the company’s latest valuation at $12 billion as of a May 2022 funding round.

Klarna is Mulling an IPO that could value the company at $20B

The past few years have been a roller coaster ride for investors of Swedish fintech company Klarna.

As Bloomberg reported last week, the valuation of the “buy now, pay later” digital lending firm reached a height of $45.6 billion in 2021. And in 2022, Klarna’s latest valuation had dropped and was listed at nearly $6.7 billion on Forge. The Forge Price™ is $202.25, an 85% discount to the $1,353.48 they were priced at in June 2021. Bloomberg notes in its article the drop was thanks in part to rising interest rates that undermined many digital lenders.

But as rates stabilize and market conditions improve, Klarna’s fortunes may be heading upward again. Bloomberg reports that the company is engaged in discussions with U.S. investment banks about an IPO in the United States as early as the third quarter of this year that could value the company at around $20 billion.

Founded in 2005, the company extends credit to tens of millions of customers, allowing them to spread payments of online purchases over time. While Klarna may be based in Sweden, the U.S. is its largest market by revenue.

AI startups Humane and Perplexity partner with SK Telecom

Two U.S. startups with intriguing AI-related technology offerings have announced that they have inked deals with SK Telecom, South Korea’s leading wireless carrier.

According to TechCrunch, Humane has partnered with SK Telecom, a deal that will provide the San Francisco-based company with its first overseas market for its “AI Pin,” a wearable device that can quickly perform many tasks in addition to phone calls, language translation, email summaries, and calendar invites.

Founded in 2017 by Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, a husband and wife who developed products for Apple, Humane has attracted plenty of buzz and big-name investors including Microsoft and OpenAI founder Sam Altman. Forge lists Humane’s latest valuation at $826 million as of a March 2023 funding round. The company has plans to ship its first AI Pins in the U.S. in April following a delay in the rollout.

Perplexity also announced a partnership with SK Telecom that will broaden the market for its artificial intelligence-based conversational search engine to South Koreans as an alternative to Google’s search engine.

In a note on Perplexity’s website, the company wrote that SK Telecom’s 32 million subscribers will be able to experience the company’s “Perplexity Pro,” which includes search capabilities and real-time information on trending events. Founded in 2022, Forge lists Perplexity’s last known valuation at $518 million as of a January 2024 funding round.

About the Author

John Kimelman is a veteran journalist who has worked at Barron’s and CNBC covering such topics as investing and commercial banking. Mr. Kimelman has received compensation from Forge Global, Inc. for authoring this article. Read more from John.

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