CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Career development platform Pando raises $6.9 million to help stem the Great Resignation

April 29, 2022, 1:36 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Knowles-Carter family makes some startup investments, astronaut Jessica Watkins achieves a ‘first’ in space, and a startup founder had good timing with her idea to improve employee retention. Have a relaxing weekend.

– Retention tactics. When Barbra Gago began work on her startup in March 2020, she couldn’t have known that two years later she would be trying to answer the top question on most C-suite leaders’ minds: how do I retain my employees?

The longtime marketing exec is now the founder of Pando, an employee career progression platform that aims to make the insights gleaned from an annual review available year-round—an innovation Gago claims can help stem the Great Resignation. The company is coming out of its beta period and launching with $6.9 million in seed and pre-seed funding, it tells Fortune exclusively. Its $5 million seed round was led by Craft Ventures, with participation from Lerer Hippeau and Correlation Ventures.

While annual reviews and promotion cycles don’t exactly conjure warm feelings among employees or managers, these insights are valuable. But their infrequency can make the process painful, Gago argues. “The biggest mistake that companies are making today is keeping employees in the dark about their future,” she says. “If you keep them in the dark about what their future is at your company, you are basically ensuring they don’t have a future there.”

The Pando platform allows employees and managers to continuously track competency scores on things like communication, project management, mentorship, community-building and other contributions to the workplace. Companies are encouraged to develop clearly communicated hierarchies based on the skills required to advance to the next level.

This steady feedback is not to bombard employees, but to demystify the promotion process. Plus, Gago notes, this format is more equitable, allowing all employees to see what skills are required to advance, rather than only promoting workers skilled at self-advocating, who are often white and male.

On the corporate end, the platform aims to increase each worker’s “employee lifetime value.”

Pando’s employee dashboard.
Courtesy of Pando

Pando was inspired by Gago’s time as a chief marketing officer for the collaboration platform company Miro, where she says she had little guidance on how to advance a career. She developed a spreadsheet-based system for her team, providing boxes each employee could check to keep track of their progression at work.

That idea is resonating with investors, including Carta CMO Jane Alexander, Notion COO Ashkay Kothari, and former Gainsight COO Allison Pickens.

“It can be very challenging to ensure fairness among team members when a company is growing rapidly,” Pickens tells Fortune. “You have early employees who may have inflated titles but haven’t received a compensation increase in years; you have some newer employees who negotiated for a big pay package that’s in line with what they made at a larger company but far higher than their peers at the new company; and you have very hard workers who sometimes feel taken for granted or who don’t realize until later that they’re significantly underpaid.”

The platform is solving for a “generational shift in employee expectations,” says angel investor Ann Bordetsky, a partner at New Enterprise Associates and former COO at live events platform Rival. Millennial workers want “continuous growth and learning,” she says, as well as a “self-directed career trajectory and … transparency into the promotions process.”

So far, Pando’s customers including OysterHR, Shipwell, Codility, and Casai, and it’s targeting businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees.

Companies have learned how to be agile in their decision-making in nearly every area besides human resources, Gago says. “By not enabling a real-time understanding of how employees are performing,” she adds, “it keeps companies from understanding how the business is doing in real time.”

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Subscribe here.

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Fall schedule. The implementation of New York City's salary transparency law will be delayed from May to November after a City Council vote yesterday. Now starting this fall, businesses hiring in the city will be required to list salary ranges for open positions in their job postings. Gothamist

- Hair to stay. Madison Reed, the hair color business founded by Amy Errett, raised $33 million from lead investor Sandbridge Capital and Jay-Z's Marcy Venture Partners. (Beyoncé, meanwhile, just invested in the water brand Lemon Perfect.) With an estimated valuation of $568 million, Madison Reed plans to expand with 20 new retail locations. Bloomberg

- Transparency vs. toxicity. In a new op-ed, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen argues that Europe has been able to make social media less toxic for users without limiting free speech—a hot topic amid Elon Musk's Twitter acquisition. Europe's Digital Services Act, she writes, requires transparency from tech giants and grants users consumer protections. New York Times

- Beauty school dropout. The Biden administration agreed to forgive $238 million in student loans borrowed by students at the for-profit cosmetology school chain Marinello Schools of Beauty. The Education Department reached the decision as the schools were found to have failed to train its mostly female students on the basics of cosmetology, like cutting hair. It's a small piece of the country's overall student loan debt, which progressives are still pushing President Joe Biden to forgive, and the first example of group student loan forgiveness since the Obama era. Wall Street Journal

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Naming conventions. Family law in Italy prohibited families from giving children only their mother's last name. Italy's Constitutional Court has ruled that children should now be given both family names, with parents free to use only one or to decide on the order of the surnames. One lawmaker called the decision the end to the last "patriarchal legacy" in Italian family law. New York Times

- Time and space. SpaceX sent four astronauts to the International Space Station for a five month mission on Wednesday. Among them was Jessica Watkins, who is now the "the first Black woman making a long-term spaceflight." The crew is the first to be equally split between men and women. Associated Press

- Weaponized sexism. An anonymous female Welsh member of Parliament says that a Labour shadow minister called her a "secret weapon" for the party because men wanted to sleep with her. She declined to attach her name to the allegation, stating that to do so would not be in the best interest of her own political career. The Labour Party said it would launch an investigation if a formal complaint is made. Guardian

ON MY RADAR

The mostly untold story of how the sports bra conquered the world and tore its inventors apart Defector

How Black trans actresses are reshaping Hollywood Them

Is she a bully or did she just work for the New York PostThe Cut

Can birth control pills lead to a stroke? Doctors explain Hailey Bieber’s situation Today

PARTING WORDS

"I wanted a place that felt like me where I could express myself without having to think about another person and what they might want. This felt like a new beginning."

-Singer Kacey Musgraves, speaking to Architectural Digest, on designing her new home after her divorce. 

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.