This Startup Is Forking Compound to Make Hiring More Efficient

Braintrust launched out of stealth mode Wednesday, backed by a $6 million seed round featuring True Ventures, Homebrew Ventures, Uprising Ventures, Galaxy Digital, IDEO CoLab, Kindred Ventures and Vy Capital.

AccessTimeIconJun 24, 2020 at 4:01 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:09 a.m. UTC
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A freelance marketplace for sourcing specialized talent is placing its bets on a token to get the dirty work done.

Braintrust launched out of stealth mode Wednesday, backed by a $6 million seed round featuring True Ventures, Homebrew Ventures, Uprising Ventures, Galaxy Digital, IDEO CoLab, Kindred Ventures and Vy Capital.

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  • The tech startup aims to cut the middleman (think: ZipRecruiter, Indeed) from the employment decision, all using a blockchain – in this case, a fork of decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol Compound.

    “In the current environment of massive economic uncertainty, it is our responsibility to share our expertise in managing a distributed workforce, and help businesses supplement their existing teams and continue to innovate in order to get our economy back on track,” Adam Jackson, co-founder and CEO of Braintrust, said in a phone interview with CoinDesk.

    The round was also joined by a handful of notable angel investors: Adobe CPO Scott Belsky, Compound CEO Robert Leshner, former Instagram CTO (and now Novi VP of engineering) James Everingham and TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown Philpot.

    Braintrust has already sourced hires for firms such as Porsche, Nestle, Blue Cross Blue Shield, TaskRabbit and even NASA. Jackson previously co-founded Doctor On Demand

    Token governance

    Employment markets should be two-sided affairs but are often parceled out to third parties, Jackson said. Those parties often fail at sourcing top tech talent and charge large cuts for placing candidates, and are particularly poorly adapted to the strains of an increasingly remote workforce.

    Braintrust flips the idea on its head by placing candidates in a pool with employers and creating a structure for interaction based on the Braintrust Token, Jackson said. 

    The token allows users to set governance parameters for the platform and is paid out based on actions, such as a successful referral.

    “It’s not a financial token – it’s not meant to be monetized,” Jackson explained. “You can use it to decide what the rules are, like, ‘Should we let people in with this qualification or should we go to this category?’ or, ‘What fees should we charge clients and talent?’”

    Based on Ethereum’s ERC-20 token standard, Braintrust’s governance model is a variant of Compound’s. Leshner counts himself as an adviser as well as an investor.

    “Compound created a basic governance token and voting framework which we hope other teams adopt to accelerate their own development,” Leshner told CoinDesk. “Braintrust is a great example of a team leveraging open source code intelligently.”

    Braintrust is not alone in the blockchain-meets-employment market. For example, freelance marketplace Moonlighting moved over to the EOS blockchain in April 2019 in an effort to connect the fragmented gig economy with Web 3.0.

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