The perfect job candidate is so hard to find that the human resources industry has a term for the rare specimen: a purple squirrel.

Purple Squirrel Inc. of Venice has become the latest tech startup to try to improve the process of matching employers and job candidates. The startup is building an online network of insiders at companies with highly coveted openings who for a fee offer advice and feedback to potential applicants.

After a year of testing the network in private, the company opened up its network to the public last week. Purple Squirrel also announced that it has raised a $2.7 million seed round led by Venice’s CrossCut Ventures, with participation from downtown’s Greycroft Partners and Arena Ventures of West Hollywood as well as Luma Launch and 500 Startups.

“Purple Squirrel is designed to give job seekers inside connections into companies that they do not currently have,” said Jon Silber, the company’s chief executive and co-founder.

Company insiders on the network work independently of their employer and offer insights into company culture, hiring processes, and organizational structure, Silber said. Fees are set by the insider based on title, expertise, time availability, and demand, but on average they charge about $20 for a 30-minute phone discussion, he added, noting that Purple Squirrel takes a 20 percent fee.

Insiders and candidates are forbidden from discussing some topics, such as age or race – a rule Purple Squirrel enforces by reviewing phone conversations, which are recorded. There is no guarantee that an insider will refer a job candidate to their company’s human resources department, but they are free to do so.

Silber said the company’s inside network has helped customers land jobs through early tests of the service, claiming that 88 percent of users who received job offers credited Purple Squirrel with helping them get those offers.

Similar to platforms operated by Uber Technologies Inc. or Airbnb, job hunters and insiders rate each other, Silber said.

“If (an insider) drops below 4.5 stars (out of 5 stars) on the rating system, we remove them from the platform,” he said.

Speed of Light

Daqri Inc. of downtown has acquired the 15 employees and intellectual property of Pasadena’s Heat Engine, a rapid prototyping and development laboratory, for an undisclosed amount.

The move is intended to boost development of Daqri’s software-defined light technology, which can bend light into holographic shapes without lenses.

Heat Engine Chief Executive Seamus Blackley and his team will join the company as full-time employees. Software-defined light has a vast number of applications, including heads-up displays, 3-D printing, satellite communication, and computer and TV displays, Blackley said.

Daqri has been using the technology to create heads-up displays for car manufacturers as well as to develop experimental methods of printing 3-D plastic.

For example, the company’s 3-D printing technology beams light in the shape of a specific object, such as a paper clip, into a petri dish of gooey plastic. The 3-D light image then hardens into a physical object in a manner of seconds.

“With traditional tech, most people have to print a layer or section at a time because the light only travels in straight lines,” said Brian Mullins, Daqri’s chief executive. “With (software-defined light) we can cause the light to bend into shapes and then put the entire shape into the liquid.”

The ability to create 3-D objects nearly instantaneously represents a paradigm shift in the world of 3-D printing, Blackley said.

“You are actually creating the entire shape at the same time,” he said. “This is the way that Hollywood and TV have sold 3-D printing: You just press a button and an object turns out.”


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Staff Reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at or (323) 549-5225, ext. 232.

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