Textio, the Seattle startup that provides an “augmented writing” platform to help companies put together better job postings, has raised $20 million to expand its offerings to other types of business writing.
The round brings the company, which was founded by former Microsoft executives Kieran Snyder and Jensen Harris in 2014 to a lifetime fundraising total of $29.5 million. Scale Venture Partners led the Series B round, and Scale partner Stacey Bishop will join Textio’s Board of Directors.
Textio analyzes hiring outcomes data from more than 250 million job posts to score a listing, and like a dutiful editor looking over your shoulder, it gives instantaneous feedback. Textio looks at everything from word choice, to organization of the listing to style when formulating its score.
With this funding round, Textio plans to expand to other types of business interactions, such as recruiting emails and sales communications. Textio is also adding several significant updates to its platform, including a redesigned user interface, deeper data guidance within the platform, expanded guidance for specific job types, and a single sign-on for enterprise customers.
In an interview with GeekWire, Snyder said the company’s focus is on augmenting writing instead of automating it because Textio isn’t itself a writer; rather it is a helper that uses data to give feedback.
“One of the reasons that we have a point of view about augmented writing and not automated writing, is that you can’t actually take the personal human voice and point of view out of the equation and still expect writing to land with real people,” Snyder said. “If every job post sounded exactly the same, none would perform any better or worse than others.”
The Textio founders gave examples of how just a few words can make a big difference in putting together an appealing job posting. For Expedia, a Textio customer, travel is a big deal, and it’s important to frame it in the right way. Mentioning modern competitors, such as Airbnb, instead of outdated competition like travel agents is likely to make a job posting more attractive, Snyder says.
There are regional variations as well. Snyder said job postings in San Francisco use the word “awesome” twice as much as the rest of the country, and using the term in a San Francisco posting has a positive impact on finding applicants. For employers in Seattle looking to land top talent, here’s a tip from Snyder: use the word “honest” in job postings.
“Employees in the Seattle region respond really favorably to perception of honest, ethical values on the part of their employers,” Snyder said.
This year is shaping up to be a big one for Textio. In addition to the funding round, the company is growing fast. Textio’s headcount has nearly doubled so far this year, from about to 20 to 38 once a few new hires come on board. By the end of 2017, Textio expects to have a headcount of approximately 55 to 60.
Textio’s customers include Apple, Microsoft, Slack, Twitter, BP, Johnson & Johnson and others.
Snyder has a PhD in computational linguistics, while Harris was in charge of user experience for Windows and Office. They say Textio is the brainchild of their respective experiences. It is also the result of frustration related to the slow development of writing software.
“Although for 30 years we’ve been writing software to help people write on the computer, none of that software actually made the words better,” Harris said. “It might have helped you decorate the text or might help you collaborate with your coworkers but nothing actually makes the writing better.”