Tidepool Gets $1.5 Million to Gamify Personality Analysis

By Michael Carney , written on May 4, 2012

From The News Desk

No pressure, but your preference between a photo of a fallen chess piece or a woman meditating cross-legged beside a waterfall could alter the trajectory of your career for years to come.

Behavioral science startup Tidepool has received $1.5 million in seed financing to gamify job seeker personality profiling by offering a series of photographic puzzles like the one above. The company believes that pictures and a person’s response to them can unlock their personality type and in turn help companies construct more compatible working teams.

Tidepool is the brainchild of the former eHarmony chief scientist Dr. Galen Buckwalter. Together, Buckwalter and his co-founder and CEO Kabir Sagoo have developed a "real-time complexity analytics platform" to disrupt insanely boring and decades-old Myers-Briggs Type analyses.

Users are asked to rank and categorize multiple sets of photographs which vary in subject matter, mood, texture, and perspective. The output on a user-by-user basis is one of 60 “work types” with a series of illustrative titles such as “Freeverse Poet” and “Podium Leader.” As its CEO once said, “We’re not alphabet soup. There are no INFJs.”

Taking a Tidepool analysis feels much more like a brain teaser or mental agility challenge than it does a traditional personality test. This is good news because users are less likely to understand the implications of each image puzzle and are therefore less able to game the system.

“Our users interact with a highly engaging visual experience”,” Buckwalter says, “which gives us the information we need to understand their core psychological traits. When users better understand their personality they can better manage their relationships, whether professional, social or personal.”

Individuals can currently take the test and unlock their work type for free on the company’s website. Its business is to charge corporate clients for providing customized hiring algorithms aimed at matching new employees to most effectively support and maintain office culture. The available share-and-compare tool describes what work type combinations are likely to lead to tension, and how these clashing types might best work together.

Those who arrive at the site today are immediately asked to indicate their preference among two photos. There is actually no “About Us” section or any explanation of the service to offer a safe exit from the hot seat. Those curious enough to submit their choice are then further piqued by a cryptic message, such as, “This choice reveals something about how you’ll spend your vacation. Want to learn more?”

The latest investment round was led by Resolute.VC and Harrison Metal Capital, with additional participation by Tim Draper, Jarl Mohn, Peggy and Jim Davis, and Jeff Lipp. The company is part of the inaugural class at the Los Angeles-based startup accelerator Amplify and received previous investment from RAK Tech Fund, Beachmint president Diego Berdakin, HipGeo founder Rich Rygg, and Chill co-founder Dan Gould.

As if job seekers weren't worried enough about the compromising photos they posted onto the Internet, with Tidepool apparently the answer to a series of image puzzles is now all that’s required to unlock your work personality type and dictate your hireability.

“Eventually your photos will become a lot more valuable to you when you use Tidepool,” says CEO Kabir. “A photo that resonates with you reflects your uniqueness.”