Workday launches $250 million venture fund

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Workday, a provider of cloud-based human resources and finance applications, recently launched a $250 million fund focused on identifying, investing and partnering with early- to growth-stage companies developing artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and other emerging technologies.

Workday SVP of corporate strategy Leighanne Levensaler and co-president Mark Peek have been named managing directors and co-heads of Workday Ventures.

The investment comes after Workday announced it will open up its cloud platform, creating new opportunities for its customer and partner ecosystem to extend Workday’s core applications.

In addition to funding, Workday Ventures portfolio companies will receive access to Workday’s experience, market know-how and global reach in the enterprise space. That includes access to Workday product executives, who can guide portfolio companies in the enterprise market, and build and deliver technologies at scale as well as create sustainable business models; connections to Workday customers, a community of more than 26 million users; and hands-on engagement at the technology level, with access to Workday data scientists, architects, and engineers.

“The goal of Workday Ventures is to [make] Workday’s people and technology expertise available to emerging companies exploring new use cases and innovations that will shape the next generation of enterprise technology,” Levensaler said. “With the explosion of emerging technologies shaping the future of how people work and businesses run, Workday feels it’s important to partner early with companies developing new innovations in areas” such as AI and machine learning.

Human resources technology venture funding has been growing for several years, said Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president at Constellation Research. “One of the key reasons for this is that people are among the biggest costs for many enterprises, and managing this has been done badly.”

“We’ve seen a lot of venture funding” going into the development of HR technology, Muller said. “All of the major software vendors now have venture funds, partly because it’s easier for them to pick up startups before they get too expensive and also to grow their ecosystem of partners.”

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