LinkedIn challenger, Polywork meets $13m with A16z, Collision

With $13 million in investments from A16z, Collisons, and others, LinkedIn challenger with NI founder makes waves. The private beta version of Polywork, an online business network emphasizing the value of the work itself rather than job titles, raises $13M in a Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Polywork, a business-focused social network in private beta that emphasizes the work people do over job titles, raises $13M Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz

Peter Johnston’s Polywork business has closed a Series A round that has drawn interest from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

A series A round of $13 million has been closed by Andreessen Horowitz (A16z), a New York-based venture capital firm, for Polywork, a business social network founded by Carrickfergus native Peter Johnston.

The A16z seed round was joined by a star-studded list of investors, including Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover, as well as Nat Friedman, the CEO of GitHub.

LinkedIn challenger - Polywork
LinkedIn challenger – Polywork

There were some returnees from Goldcrest Capital and Caffeinated Capital and new participants from Bungalow Capital and 20VC who also participated as investors.

Polywork is a new startup that was founded in 2020, and one of the things that makes it attractive is its founder; Johnston is a Google alum who founded a company called Kalo (previously known as Lystable) in 2015. In addition to graduating from Techstars in the UK, the start-up attracted investment from Valar Ventures as well as garnering numerous clients, including Google, Airbnb, The Economist, and many others. As a result of the pandemic, Kalo struggled and Johnston decided to close it in order to avoid further losses.

A $3.5 million seed round was raised for Polywork in May of this year, when it launched in beta and held a $3.5 million seed round. Johnston has made clear that he wants to compete with the Microsoft-owned professional networking giant LinkedIn, which has been described as a blending of LinkedIn and Twitter by observers and early users alike.

The founder of Sifted told Sifted that during his pitch to investors, he effectively reframed what LinkedIn is trying to accomplish. How valuable is a CV template of a list of skills, for example, in the real world? What matters to me is what you do with your skills, not what you have as skills, but how you use them to achieve your goals.

According to the study, people use job titles and school names as the primary means of identifying who you are and what you care about the most, but they’re both pretty terrible proxies for what you actually care about and who you really are.”

I have heard Johnston say repeatedly in interviews and blog posts that he feels people are “more than what society has put on them, such as their job title”, and that he hopes Polywork can be a way for these two aspects of their lives to come together in a way other social networks can’t. Users are given a Twitter-like feed where they can post updates on their latest projects, as well as tags or badges on their profiles, which allow them to display their skills and interests to others. Posts can also be tagged, so you can filter a person’s feed by a specific area of work or interest.

Following the investment by A16z, Sriram Krishnan of Polywork will join the board of directors.

Earlier this year, we became aware of Polywork and started seeing prominent online personalities utilizing it in order to tell their stories. When you hear buzz from online communities that range from tech, fashion, music, and more, you pay attention. Krishnan was able to quickly see why Polywork was capturing so many people’s imaginations,” he said.

Besides the fact that Polywork was a gorgeous product, but the team was also creating a network that truly reflected the multifaceted nature of what people do in their daily lives.”

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