Pave gets Y Combinator to back better startup compensation tools, again

Pave gets Y Combinator to back better startup compensation tools, again

Pave, a San Francisco-based startup that helps companies benchmark, plan and communicate compensation to their employees, has raised a $46 million Series B. YC Continuity led the round, which also saw participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Bessemer Venture Partners. The round comes eight months after Pave closed a $16 million Series A round. Today’s financing puts Pave’s valuation at $400 million, up from $75 million one year ago.

Pave launched with an ambitious goal: Can it measure pay across venture-backed tech companies in real time, and help startups move their comp table off of spreadsheets? AngelList and Glassdoor have already tried to build a similar benchmark-worthy data set, but Pave may have a built-in advantage over the companies that tried to fix the same problem before. Y Combinator, which helped incubate Pave and is now leading its most recent round through its later-stage capital vehicle, is one of the largest startup accelerators in the world. Of Pave’s 900 customers to date, one-third come from Y Combinator, and CEO Matthew Schulman only sees that number growing.

“Having YC’s deep support of Pave as the YC-stamped leader in the burgeoning [compensation technology] industry is and will continue to be game changing for our distribution and ability to have ample data coverage in our benchmarking product,” Schulman said. He compared Pave’s distribution trajectory as similar to what fintech company Brex, also backed by Y Combinator Continuity, managed. The founder estimates that 60% of YC companies are active Brex customers.

The reliance on YC could engender platform risk, considering how often the accelerator invests in competitors — often within the same batch. That said, an investment from Y Combinator Continuity, which does Series B rounds and higher, may be a signal that YC has found the comptech player it wants to back. Ali Rowghani, the managing director of the fund and former COO of Twitter, is joining Pave’s board.

Data is everything for the startup, supporting each of Pave’s three main services that it offers to companies. First, Pave uses market and partner data to help companies benchmark salaries for their employees. Second, the startup integrates with HR tools such as Workday, Carta and Greenhouse to give its customers a holistic picture on how employees are currently being compensated, and what makes sense for promotion cycles and salary bumps. And third, the data work culminates into formal offers and compensation packages that employers can then offer to new and old employees.

Pave’s current customers account for data on over 65,000 employee records. The first product serves as a free top of funnel service, while the last two are paid services offered up like any ol’ enterprise software contract.

The world of compensation is rife with inequity, leading to the gender wage gap, and the gaps we can see in the market regarding minority pay disparity.

Schulman views one of Pave’s goals as getting companies to go from doing their D&I analysis from once a year, to doing it consistently. The company plans to build diversity and inclusion-specific dashboards that allow companies to see inequities and access ways or suggestions to improve their breakdown.

“What gets measured, gets improved,” Schulman said. Pave has begun to track its own compensation and diversity metrics, in an effort to be more transparent with its employees and maybe inspire some companies to do the same. About 33% of Pave’s workforce identify as women, compared to an industry average of 28.8%. Half of Pave’s executives, and half of Pave’s board members, identify as women. The company has committed to having 50% of its client-facing roles, which include customer success managers and sales members, “to be female or persons from underrepresented groups.”

While Pave is starting to disclose its own internal benchmarks, transparency around diversity isn’t yet a standard within tech companies — it’s far easier to get valuations than to get specifics around the makeup of historically overlooked individuals within organizations. Pave recently launched the Pave Data Lab, which uses its data set to showcase compensation trends and inequities within how tech workers are paid. That said, Pave doesn’t currently require the companies it works with to upload gender and race information into their benchmarking tool, and didn’t disclose what specific percentage of companies on its platform share that data.

It is hoping noise will make a difference. Pave’s compensation benchmarking data is now free for all companies to use, which will bring more data underneath its umbrella, and more standards to the confusing world of compensation.

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