Santa Monica human resource software company Cornerstone OnDemand has made its first investments out of its venture arm, the Innovation Fund.
The four investments were made to keep up with innovation in the human resources software industry, said Chirag Shah, Cornerstone’s vice president of finance and strategy.
“As you mature as a company you can sometimes lose innovativeness,” he said. “We wanted to give ourselves a way to stay on top of the innovation that is going on around us.”
Cornerstone’s investments include $500,000 in New York’s One Month, an online course catalog that teaches entrepreneurial skills; $500,000 in San Francisco’s Rallyteam, a cloud-based platform for managing employee engagement and leveraging employee skills; $500,000 in Santa Monica’s Strive, a cloud-based platform for automating the recruitment and vetting process for technical hires; and “a little less than” $500,000 in Santa Monica’s Workpop, a job board focused on service economy work. Shah would not disclose the equity stake taken in the companies.
Cornerstone’s Innovation Fund is investing money off the company’s balance sheet, said Shah, and has budget tens of millions of dollars for the effort. It is aiming to make between three to five investments a year, typically in amounts of $250,000 to $1 million. As of June 30, its last quarterly report, Cornerstone had $79.4 million in cash on its books.
“If the company is further along, and if it makes sense, we would certainly be willing to write bigger checks,” said Shah.
Alongside the Innovation Fund, Cornerstone will be nourishing its portfolio companies with an accelerator program, said Shah. Recruitment platform Strive and service job board Workpop, for example, are housed within Cornerstone’s Santa Monica offices as part of the accelerator. The other companies are remotely provided mentorship, product distribution help and access to Cornerstone’s rolodex of clients and partners.
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