Can An HR Tech Unicorn’s CEO Balance Growth With Impact?
At the return of the 1,500-employee Phenom’s annual user conference, cofounder Mahe Bayireddi auditioned to be the tech exec the world needs now.
After the thumping pop music and colored spotlights, Mahe Bayireddi walked onstage.
The elevators and escalators were branded. All 1,250 generic hotel conference chairs in the sprawling ballroom were filled. The big user conference is a status signal among tech and business titans, and after three years of pandemic delay, this was Bayireddi’s big moment.
His first move? He introduced someone else to lead event attendees in meditation.
Bayireddi and team say they are doing something different at Phenom, the HR tech company that has spent the last decade outgrowing the categories in which they’ve been slotted. At present, Phenom counts 1,500 employees and 600 clients, including many as big as Mastercard, Southwest Airlines and Hewlett Packard. Customers use its suite of tools for recruiting and managing employees.
In 2013, Technical.ly reported that a tiny startup recruiting platform called iMomentus raised $250,000 from state-backed investment firm Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Three years later, the company now called Phenom People had 70 employees, and in 2018, its $22 million Series B powered 275 employees into the frenzied final years of the world’s low-interest, easy-money tech bonanza. In 2021, the company, now shortened to just Phenom, announced that a $100 million Series D gave them a $1.4 billion valuation — unicorn status — and Bayireddi told Technical.ly “there’s no doubt” they’d go public.