Our Investment in Sora & the Future of Teams

By Kyra Durko and Frances Schwiep on August 24, 2021

For many companies, their greatest asset is their people. Smart HR teams are constantly striving to raise the bar for their employees’ experience and development, in an effort to improve the value of this asset. Over the last several years, this strategy has been forced to evolve by increasingly complex workforce demographics and a rapidly growing HR technology ecosystem. 

There are 3 major trends that together are forcing HR teams to re-evaluate the ways that they recruit, onboard, support, retain, and eventually offboard employees: 

HR innovation has sparked a rapid unbundling of HR tech stacks: Rather than one “walled garden” piece of software, companies are adopting several separate tools for payroll, culture, performance management, recruiting, and multiple types of benefits. According to a 2019 survey of HR and HR IT leaders, 74% of companies planned to increase spending on HR tech and 39% planned to increase their number of tech vendors.

Workforces themselves are getting more complex: The rise of remote work is forcing companies to adopt tools to pay, determine compensation, and communicate with employees across geographies. This often means having different tools not just for different HR functions, but for different parts of the workforce. This is further contributing to the increasing complexity of HR tech stacks.

Employees are changing jobs more frequently than ever before: As of January 2020, the median tenure of workers ages 55 – 64 (9.9 years) was more than three times that of workers ages 25 – 34 (2.8 years). As this older generation retires and younger generations become a larger part of the workforce, there is a burning need to reduce the costs and administrative burden associated with this higher velocity of onboarding and offboarding in cases where the employee couldn’t be retained.

Modernization of the HR tech stack can deliver many benefits to employees and employers, but creates new challenges for the HR teams leading these initiatives. HR tools notoriously do not talk to one another – when new tools are adopted, another data endpoint and data silo is created. HR Ops teams are forced to painstakingly, manually transfer data between systems, and employees sometimes receive disjointed communications from multiple systems asking them to use a separate portal for their particular piece of the people management puzzle. 

This unbundling, and more accurately, tangling, of the HR tech stack is what Sora is solving for world-class companies like Affirm, Plaid, and Flexport. Sora built a much-needed data and workflow orchestration layer on top of HR software tools. Using Sora, companies put workflows – such as employee onboarding and offboarding – on autopilot. Sora also creates pathways for data to flow between an organization’s most important people tools. By serving as this central hub for data mobility, we believe Sora is well-positioned to be the employee data source of truth. 

What we find most impressive about what Sora has built is their high-quality integrations. Lack of integration is the most commonly-cited HR tech stack problem, and many HR execs are understandably skeptical about advertised integration capabilities. Sora has proven that it is in fact possible to have a complex, but connected, HR tech stack. Legacy players have not been able to pull this off well. With Sora, when an employee is hired, for example, their data will automatically be sent to create a profile in their payroll system, a company-branded email coming from a human will automatically be sent to welcome them to the team, a ticket in Jira will be triggered to procure their laptop, and introductions can be facilitated with their important new peers. These are just some of the many workflows that HR teams can configure and customize using Sora.

Sora was founded by Laura Del Beccaro and Orien Wu, who previously worked together at Mixpanel. Before starting Sora, Laura worked hand-in-hand with several dozen HR teams that were struggling with the very problem Sora is now solving. As an engineer herself, she wrote scripts that helped automate a lot of HR work for a friend, which ended up being the inspiration for Sora’s product. Orien spent over 5 years at Mixpanel, working on many teams and eventually leading the entire Professional Services and Consulting department. His experience is critical in creating a great experience for Sora’s customers and in helping Sora deploy their product efficiently to as many HR teams as possible. 

We believe Sora is defining a new standard for HR operations. We are thrilled to support Laura and Orien in their mission to empower people-focused teams to create exceptional employee experiences.

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