Stealthy Job Search Startup Bright Announces $6 Million Funding and Debuts Big Data Solution

By Michael Carney , written on June 19, 2012

From The News Desk

Finding a job is a pain in the ass. Hiring is equally painful and time consuming, as well as expensive.

Unfortunately, neither of these processes seem to have improved much as a result of technological innovation. In fact, in many ways, the internet has added to the issue by increasing the number of applicants -- many unqualified -- for every job posting.

After 18 months in stealth mode, San Francisco-based Bright is looking to change that. The company is making quite the public entrance today, announcing a big data-powered solution for connecting job seekers with the right jobs as well as $6 million in Series A financing from a group of angel investors including Passport Capital hedge fund manager John Burbank  and Jamie Knall, among others.

The company developed its “Bright Score” technology to eliminate the lengthy and expensive process of matching open positions with qualified candidates. Through the service, job seekers are provided a curated list of available positions to which they are best suited. Alternatively, employers can filter the best possible candidates for their open positions from the market at large.

The company has assembled a brainy team of neuroscientists, mathematicians, and nuclear physicists to develop its Bright Score algorithm. The team first analyzed how hundreds of recruiters critiqued tens of thousands of resumes. They then developed a machine-learning algorithm based on the findings which was further refined by analyzing millions of resumes across hundreds of data points.

The final output is a numerical score from 0 to 100 representing a candidate’s qualification for a specific job. The score incorporates elements from employment history, academic credentials, employer prestige and even social connections.

Early iterations of the company’s product were based on connecting job searches with existing social networks to identify social connections users have in a given field or company. The pivot from this "me too" solution toward integrating data science seems like a far more interesting and impactful way to disrupt a stale industry.

Users can sign up for free and upload a resume to receive job openings ranked by the Bright Score according to best fit. The company will rely on charging employers to use the system, although it hasn’t yet revealed pricing. For employers, Bright integrates with existing Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software.

The giant elephant in the room with marketplace-based companies like Bright is seeding the market with enough resumes and job listings to attract parties on each side of the table. Judging by a quick scan of the listings on its earlier iterations, which included Fortune 500’s like Hertz, Aetna, Nestle, Allstate, and Wells Fargo, this may be a smaller problem than it seems. Also, the company says that it has already attracted 8.6 million job seekers who posted 2.8 million resumes.

Another area sure to raise a few eyebrows is the possibility that Bright filters out candidates who are qualified based on "intangibles" rather than quantifiable metrics. The reality is that this is already happening and will continue to happen whether the Bright Score is adopted or not. The difference is, with the addition of this new technology, both applicants and hiring recruiters can be more efficient with their job searches and therefore may have time to make the extra effort in certain "out of the box" cases.

There’s no question that the current job market is inefficient, which makes the proposed solution attractive. The company cites statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to prove this point.

Employers reportedly spend an average of $5,504 per hire, while the time to hire can range from two to six months, and the median duration for job seeker unemployment is about 19 months. Also, 66 percent of job applicants are said meet the minimum qualifications for jobs to which they applied, making algorithmic screening more difficult.

The Bright Score offers a faster, less expensive, and supposedly more accurate way of navigating this quagmire. Although it doesn’t describe how it measures this abstract concept, Bright claims to cut the amount of time spent “from scheduling time to sift through resumes to actually reviewing them” by up to 90 percent.

Bright was founded by serial entrepreneur Steve Goodman. Goodman’s track record includes previously founding and growing Lasso Logic, Learning Productions, and PacketTrap Networks, each of which resulted in a successful exit collectively valued at $100 million. He is also currently an investor in and a co-founder of the widely popular and A-list VC-funded, mom-focused, local commerce portal Plum District.

“With jobs at the forefront of the political and economic discussion, Bright’s data-driven approach couldn’t be more timely,” says Bright founder and CEO Steve Goodman. “Bright is ready to unveil an unmatchable way to move the labor market faster by doing for the job market, what Google did for search.”