Oyster is changing the future of work by aligning investment and mission
For the last two years, I and the rest of the team here at Oyster have been committed to our mission of creating a more equal world through global and distributed hiring. Today, I am humbled and grateful as I share that Oyster has raised $150 million in our Series C funding round.
With a total raise of $227 million to date and a $1+ billion valuation, we have proven that distributed work is better for business, people, and the planet.
We’ve also been fortunate to work with great investors who are equally committed to our mission. Led by Georgian and with investment from Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund, Base10, Okta, LinkedIn, and Endeavor Catalyst, this new round of funding means we can continue to deliver on our vision of a world where the lottery of your birth country does not determine the opportunities available to you.
I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished in just two years. We’ve built an incredible and diverse team that spans 60 countries and is composed of almost 60% women. We want the diversity of Oyster to reflect the diversity of planet Earth.
We’ve also enabled hundreds of customers to create globally diverse organizations and hire the best people no matter where they are. This has helped people around the world, both in developed and emerging economies, gain more freedom and choice in where they work and live.
Our commitment to our mission has made all of this possible, and our growth is further proof that we’ve lived our values and achieved so much in service of them.
Why mission matters
The pandemic was a surprise to everyone. When my co-founder Jack Mardack and I first launched Oyster in January of 2020, we thought it would take us five years to convince investors and leaders of what we already knew—that distributed work is better work.
Well, it didn’t take us five years.
Instead, remote work during the pandemic accelerated leaders’ willingness to imagine and work toward a world where proximity is not the biggest factor when deciding who and how to hire.
As someone who left Lebanon early in life, after years of civil war, in search of education and opportunity, I am deeply and personally connected to this mission.
This is the reason Oyster exists. When you remove the barriers of location and proximity bias, you can begin to address the inherent inequalities of hiring and employment. You can curb brain drain, invest in global talent and communities, and narrow the gap between access and opportunity.
This isn’t just a wishlist of things we hope our work accomplishes. We’ve articulated these goals in our impact thesis and measured our progress in our recent impact report.
Oyster customers are projected to use our platform to pay more than $50 million to talent located in emerging economies by the end of 2022. This represents 25% of the team members employed through Oyster. This is energizing, and further crystalizes the importance of work that is done with the greater good in mind.
Our mission has acted as our north star. It has allowed us to assemble incredible talent from across the world, achieve an engagement score that is in the top 3% for VC-backed companies, and attract more than 12,000 applicants to our job postings each month.
At the heart of it, we are selling a human platform for humans, and our values as a company reflect this. People want more than just money from their careers. They also want to find purpose, and working for a mission-driven company gives them that purpose.
Leading with purpose
There used to be a belief that, if you were a mission-driven company, you might deliver less return to investors. This perhaps came from a misconception that doing good and doing well were incompatible in business. Therefore, investors in the past, especially early-stage investors, didn’t take mission-driven businesses as seriously.
Though this view is changing, founders must still seek out the right partners that allow them to align investment with their mission.
In recent years, we’ve seen ESG (environmental, social, governance) investing become the fastest-growing asset class as well as data from Deloitte and others that prove purpose-led organizations grow three times faster and experience higher market share gains.
But leading with impact is hard to do. You have to be authentic and you have to mean it.
When you are a founder building a company with a strong social mission, you must make sure you can demonstrate to investors that impact means higher return in the long run, not lower.
In my experience, rallying around a common social mission improves internal morale, unlocks productivity gains, and creates an environment where people are excited and hopeful about the work they are doing. Even more indicative of market potential, in an impact-led environment, there is greater opportunity to build trust and affinity with customers who are also committed and engaged with your vision.
Admittedly, business as a vehicle for social change is not the ideal. In an ideal world, governments, not only corporations, would create and support opportunities for their citizens. They would mitigate the environmental damage caused by unnecessary commutes and invest in the wellbeing and social mobility of their communities.
But, where governments are unable or unwilling to take such action, purpose-driven businesses can create opportunities that ensure capital is not just flowing between countries in the West. When founders can connect a greater purpose with a need in the market, they can support change on a global scale.
The reality is that not all businesses can reach this alignment. There’s not always an opportunity to pair positive social impact with what you do as a company. But founders should not be afraid to try. It’s important to be thoughtful, be ambitious, and, most of all, embody the principles and values that you have set out for the rest of your team.
I continue to be proud and grateful for what we have built at Oyster. We have created a model of work that not only helps people access flexibility, wellbeing, and freedom, but that is a force for social and environmental good.
I am also proud of the relationship we’ve built with the People Ops community. We believe that Oyster is well positioned to be the category leader, and so we are building this global employment platform with and in partnership with them.
We are excited to be where we are—working with the HR and People Ops community to help create more diverse, mission-driven organizations and fairer employment around the world.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.
Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.