Centrical, a startup developing an employee engagement and performance management platform, today announced that it raised $32 million in funding led by Intel Capital. CEO Gal Rimon says that the funds, which bring Centrical’s total raised to date to $64 million, will be put toward product R&D as Centrical looks to acquire new customers.
During the pandemic, as shelter-in-place orders and office closures force employees to work from home, companies are increasingly experimenting with or adopting work quality monitoring products. According to a June study by Gartner, 26% of HR leaders report having used some form of software or technology to track remote workers since the start of the health crisis. It’s an uptick driven in part by concerns over performance dips that could arise from work-from-home setups. A survey by global recruitment firm Robert Walters found that 64% of businesses are concerned about remote employees’ productivity.
Centrical, founded in 2013 as GamEffective, sells companies access to a platform designed to let remote employees interact, train, and perform in hybrid workplaces. Managers can set personalized performance and learning goals for workers and provide them with real-time performance tracking, or engage them with challenges, levels, and prizes while offering prompts for learning opportunities.
Centrical’s gamification software allows enterprises to incorporate engagement and recognition. In addition to personal challenges, admins can set tiered, prize-winning competitions or embed activities in quest-based game narratives. They can also create bite-sized “microlearning” activities that leverage an AI engine to recommend lessons to employees based on their knowledge and performance.
While Centrical pitches its software as a noninvasive, voluntary solution for remote monitoring, privacy advocates are sounding the alarm over workplace software with real-time activity-tracking capabilities. Tracking tools like StaffCop, Teramind, and Hubstaff can record keystrokes, email, file transfers, apps used, and how much time employees spend on tasks, even taking screenshots to let managers know what’s on the employee’s screen. And in some cases, depending on the configuration, the tools can be installed without the knowledge of employees.
For Centrical’s part, the company says that employees have access to their data from a centralized dashboard. Workers can view the same metrics as their managers, as well as the same AI-powered, closed-loop coaching with contextual evaluation forms, tips, and job resources. Centrical credits its customer success with this transparency. For example, Microsoft, a Centrical customer, reported a 10% increase in the productivity of its contact center representatives and a reduction of 12% in short-term absenteeism. Another client, Cellular Sales, Verizon’s largest authorized retailer, notched a 53% increase in new handset sales and two times higher combo sales of accessories using Centrical’s software.
According to Ramon, Centrical doesn’t take screenshots of workers’ desktops or retain employee data. Data is held and managed by customers who use the platform and “no pertinent information captured [or] analyzed that would hold any value for marketing purposes.”
“While this investment is gratifying – especially as it occurred in the midst of a pandemic — what all of us at Centrical are happiest about is all we were able to do for our customers during the past year,” Rimon said, adding that Centrical’s 130 customers have 100,000 users on the platform. “We helped them and their employees perform their best during a most difficult time by adding and enhancing features that brought even more value to our employee-centric success platform. Those ongoing efforts are what drives us and why our customers continue to be committed to us. I firmly believe those were key reasons we were secured the investment we did.”
Beyond Intel Capital, JVP participated in Centrical’s tranche announced today, alongside C4 Ventures, Citi Ventures, and existing backers Aleph, CE Ventures, La Maison Compagnie d’Investissment, and 2B Angels. Centrical, which has 115 employees across offices in Tel Aviv and New York, also plans to use the funding to launch products aimed at “aiding achievement in high-level corporate goals, crisis management, and other business agility-related activities,” Rimon said.