Wisq Debuts With $40 Million to Combat Looming Crisis of Social Isolation at Work
25 Apr, 2022, 09:00 ET
True Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Shasta Ventures Back Social Connection Platform
REDWOOD CITY, Calif., April 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Wisq, the first platform designed for the social connection needs of employees, announced today that it closed $20 million in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture Partners with participation from True Ventures and Shasta Ventures. Following a seed round that closed in May 2021, Wisq has raised more than $40 million to fuel its growth and expand its platform and team.
"The decline in social well-being in the workplace was significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – and the cost to U.S. companies and their people is staggering," said Jeff Crowe, managing partner at Norwest Venture Partners. "Wisq is tackling this problem head-on with a platform that employers and employees have been missing – a mechanism to build social connections among our co-workers, no matter where they are. With a founding team from Glint that includes CEO Jim Barnett, who I worked with at three different ventures, Wisq is on an exciting mission to radically transform the way we work together."
Workplace Connections Lacking Amid a Social Well-Being Pandemic
Studies show that building close relationships with colleagues and having a strong sense of belonging at work are among the most important drivers of employee engagement and can be solutions to overcoming feelings of disconnection and isolation. As we have moved to more digital work collaboration and remote and hybrid work environments, the workplace has fundamentally changed and profoundly impacted its people and culture. Consider the following:
- According to Pew Research, 65% of workers who rarely or never teleworked before the pandemic say they feel less connected to co-workers now.
- The cost of this employee disconnection to U.S. companies is $406 billion. Cigna research revealed that lonely employees have a higher risk of turnover, lower productivity, more missed days at work and lower quality of work.
- Generation Z workers, who have grown up accustomed to digital social interactions, are twice as likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to look for a new job within a year if they do not feel connected or like their workplace culture, a Bankrate survey revealed.
- Employees who feel a high level of belonging are less likely to leave their job, will perform better in their job, take fewer sick days and give higher employer promoter scores, according to BetterUp.
Wisq Fosters Stronger Social Connections and Feelings of Belonging
"Social connections increase employee engagement, job satisfaction and employer loyalty and are critical factors at a time when people are quick to jump ship to the next opportunity," said Wisq's Barnett. "It is incumbent that business leaders foster authentic social moments as an essential part of the workday. It's time for business leaders to adopt new technology, new behavior patterns and new business culture values that align with today's workforce. We designed Wisq to be the platform that makes all of this possible, to provide a space for life at work."
The Wisq platform enables social connections and enhances a sense of belonging and social well-being for both virtual employees and those in physical locations, actively working to mitigate the feelings of isolation and contributing to an organization's performance, culture and retention rates. Unlike traditional work productivity and engagement tools or consumer social media platforms, Wisq has created the only comprehensive platform that fosters social well-being at work and supports the basic needs of employees, like connection, belonging and community.
With smart profiles, intuitive sharing, community building and audio lounges for informal hangouts, Wisq helps organizations build happy work cultures. The artificial intelligence (AI) discovery platform facilitates connections and fuels authentic engagement for employees, creating a supportive environment across hallways and continents.
There are various work and social entry points into the Wisq platform. Early beta customers whose employees are engaging with Wisq are seeing benefits in four key areas:
- Belonging: Cultivating a sense of belonging by allowing employees to connect, share and build relationships.
- Onboarding: Quickly instilling a sense of community and belonging during the new hire onboarding process.
- Growth: Consistently building, maintaining and growing employee relationships to foster social connections, develop friendships and improve team dynamics.
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Enabling the formation of communities around shared interests, values, identities and backgrounds while providing the support and resources needed.
"Remote team members are now a massive part of the workforce and they crave – more than ever – human connection and a sense of belonging at work," said Jon Callaghan, co-founder of True Ventures. "We've recommitted to Wisq's Series A after leading the team's seed round because the market is in need of a platform that fosters social connection, camaraderie and better team collaboration whether those team members are in an office or working from elsewhere. The Wisq team is deeply committed to the employee experience and growing this space in the right direction."
"As Generation Z enters the workforce, they come with expectations of making digital connections in all aspects of their lives, even day-to-day on the job, whether they're working remotely or in the office," said Jason Pressman, managing director at Shasta Ventures. "Providing a platform like Wisq is no longer a 'nice-to-have.' It's a 'must-have' benefit for the future of work in a competitive market where companies are seeking unique ways to attract and retain the next generation of employees."
Companies interested in beta participation can sign up here.
Wisq is a space for life at work. The Wisq platform helps employees improve social well-being by enabling them to connect, share and build relationships at work. Organizations increase employee engagement, improve belonging and retention and build happy work cultures. Wisq enables smart profiles, intuitive sharing, community building and audio lounges for informal hangouts. Based in Redwood City, CA, the company was founded by three former Glint executives: Jim Barnett, chief executive officer; Goutham Kurra, chief product officer; and Chih-Po Wen, chief technology officer. Wisq has raised more than $40 million and is backed by True Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Shasta Ventures. For more information, visit www.wisq.com.
About Norwest Venture Partners
Norwest is a leading venture and growth equity investment firm managing more than $12.5 billion in capital. Since its inception, Norwest has invested in more than 650 companies and currently partners with more than 200 companies in its venture and growth equity portfolio. The firm invests in early- to late-stage businesses across a wide range of sectors with a focus on consumer, enterprise, and healthcare. The Norwest team offers a deep network of connections, operating experience and a wide range of impactful services to help CEOs and founders scale their businesses. Norwest has offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco, with subsidiaries in India and Israel. For more information, please visit www.nvp.com. Follow Norwest on Twitter @NorwestVP.
About Shasta Ventures
Shasta Ventures puts entrepreneurs first. A leading early-stage venture capital firm, Shasta partners with bold creative entrepreneurs who are passionate about building great products that deliver amazing work experiences. Founded in 2004, Shasta Ventures has more than $1B under management and specializes in enterprise software startups. Our portfolio features Anaplan, Appsheet, Apptio, Glint, Zuora and many promising start-ups. Find out more at www.shastaventures.com.
About True Ventures Founded in 2005, True Ventures is a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that invests in early stage technology startups. With more than $2.8 billion under management, True provides seed and Series A financing to entrepreneurs in today's fastest growing markets. To learn more, visit www.trueventures.com.
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