When Brendan Wallace graduated from Princeton with a degree in political science in 2004, he did what most liberal arts majors looking for employment do — he attended job info sessions and found himself working at an investment bank, even though it wasn’t his dream job.
By the time he entered Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2008, Wallace realized he wanted to manage products and lead people as the head of a company. He just wasn’t sure how to get there. “I wish I’d had a tool that said, ‘here are some career options,’” he said, noting that a job at Facebook or Google might have been more help in becoming a CEO than jobs in investment banking or private equity.
Wallace’s lack of post-grad career direction led him to create Identified, along with co-founder and co-CEO Adeyemi Ajao, in 2010. The company announced Tuesday that it has raised $21 million in a Series B round of funding, with VantagePoint Capital Partners and Capricorn Investment Group co-leading the round. Identified also saw participation from prior investors, including Tim Draper, Bill Draper and Innovation Endeavors. It had previously raised $1.5 million in Series A financing.
Identified uses Facebook data and game-like incentives to help 20-somethings identify and map out their early career goals. The startup has attracted more than 10 million registered users, with 90 percent of them under the age of 29, the company reports.
Wallace hopes Identified can attract users by making a job search and career development more fun.”Building a professional profile is really boring,” he said.
Identified has specifically targeted younger users who might find professional career sites like LinkedIn slightly stodgy and are looking for feedback on their career moves, Wallace said.
The service automatically imports a user’s connections and basic biographical data from Facebook that would be relevant to recruiters, such as professional networks or employment and school history. Users can then choose to add or delete info from their Identified profile, and present their profile to potential employers.
A core feature of the service is the Identified Score — similar to a Klout score — that reflects a user’s breadth of connections and depth of job experience based on their profile information. Users can work to increase their score by networking with people offline, updating their profiles or even obtaining further degrees. They can also compare their scores to those of their friends, making the job hunt a more interactive, competitive experience.
“I want the score to be a way for you to meet your professional goals,” Wallace said. “So right now, it’s not really doing that. But long-term, if you go to a particular conference, there should be some tool that tells you how meaningful that is in developing your career.”
There are plenty of critics of quantitative assessments like a Klout score, which is intended to reflect someone’s offline engagement or personality. Wallace says the Identified Score is certainly not a perfect measure of someone’s attractiveness to employers.
“Objective measures of people’s influence or relevance are very tough to do well, but what they can do is provide an incentive score for users to set goals for themselves,” he said. Even though the Wallace said the Identified Score isn’t a perfect indicator of someone’s attractiveness to employers, the company sees it as a core component of its pitch to young users.
Raid planned on Zynga
When it comes to hiring for his own company, Wallace has a pretty clear idea of which employees he wants to target. Identified hopes to raid talent primarily from Zynga with its new funding, in hopes of developing the Identified Score feature further. Wallace said that while Zynga has been incredibly successful at creating online gaming experiences, those product managers are eager to apply their skills to real world challenges.
“It’s not just helping users spend more money building online virtual farms, it’s helping people solve real problems,” he said.
Right now, Identified is working with a handful of companies who can use the user information for recruiting, and by July, the service will be open to all interested recruiters.
So is Wallace trying to make Identified the new LinkedIn? He said a key distinction between the companies is the age difference in users — Identified isn’t targeting older job-hunters.
“It’s kind of, like, career management 2.0 for millennials.”