Cambridge startup Jobcase, a professional network for blue-collar workers, has raised $100 million in new funding — more than five times its previous total.
The massive cash infusion, led by investment firm Providence Strategic Growth, signals confidence in Jobcase's ability to compete with LinkedIn and other more specialized networks such as WorkHands, which targets trade workers.
And the nine-figure investment admits Jobcase to an elite club of Boston-area software startups that have raised similarly large sums. Other recent members include Cambridge Mobile Telematics, Fuze, Toast and ezCater.
Jobcase founder Fred Goff said he was looking for an investment partner that shares the company's vision of local growth.
"I think it's a shame that so many of our graduates leave," he said. "I mean, why is Facebook not a Boston company? Why do we have to keep losing things?"
Goff told Bostonomix more about his company's plans. The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length:
Why do you want Jobcase to grow and stay in the Boston area, instead of relocating to Silicon Valley?
I think that there's something different about Boston. I think that we have an opportunity, as a city, to own people-first technology. And that really defines what we're doing as a company.
I think it would be cool for Boston to become an international innovation hub — but one that's known for making sure that people come first, that if you meet people in a Starbucks or something, and they tell you some cool thing they're doing that the natural mantra is, "That's cool. How's that help people?"
Which is something that, I'll tell you, you don't hear out in Silicon Valley. They try to get on covers of magazines and change the world and are stepping over how many homeless people along the way? And not even seeing them. There's something kind of off, out there.
Might you use some of the investment money to make acquisitions? If you bought WorkHands, for example, you'd take a competitor out of the market and gain a foothold in San Francisco.
There are acquisitive opportunities for us that we're considering, in addition to organic growth. We might look at it differently. I wouldn't look, necessarily, to San Francisco. Maybe there might be somebody there. But when we think of it, we have an appetite to grow to a billion members, so clearly we're going international. So, when we start thinking about acquisitive plays, a lot of times we're looking internationally.
How else do you plan to use the investment?
We're up to about 180 people. I'll tell you what our current intentions are with the use of funds, but behind it is all people. The first one is to finish developing our machine-learning infrastructure. We think that you can't be competitive in a consumer-internet environment unless you're really harnessing the power of ML to make sure you're being as relevant as you can for your members.
That translates to a whole bunch of people, building all the infrastructure around harnessing ML.
The other one is around a lot of product development for our members. We shouldn't make it that if you apply to five companies, you fill out five applications. It should be like college kids today: common app.
And we shouldn't make it that when somebody updates their resume, they've got to update it at Jobcase and Indeed and Careerbuilder. There should be one place that updates them all.