Byteboard tech interview platform rolls out of Google’s 120 zone and takes new funding – TechCrunch
Byte array, a service designed to replace the technical on-site interview portion of a company’s hiring process with a web-based alternative, will come out of Google, TechCrunch learned and confirmed Google. The product was initially incubated as part of the company’s in-house R&D lab known as Area 120, where it is headed by Managing Director Sargun Kaur. With this decision, Byteboard will be the first Area 120 project to leave Google and become its own stand-alone business. But Google notes that this will be the exception, not the rule.
Google told us that the split will have no impact on existing teams in Zone 120 or on the group’s future strategy. Instead, its R&D division will continue to focus on funding projects most likely to advance Google’s own opportunities, the company said.
In addition to the split, Byteboard took new investments from Cowboy Ventures and others, in the range of $ 10 million to $ 15 million. But we understand that this is not a “buyout,” as Google will retain shares in the new company, which will continue to be run by co-founders Kaur and Nikke Hardson-Hurley.
“We are delighted to see the progress that Byteboard has made over the past three years in incubating within Google Zone 120,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Byteboard’s solution provides high-growth companies with the tools they need to assess and hire the best technical talent, with greater efficiency and fairness. We look forward to continuing our work with Sargun, Nikke and the rest of the Byteboard team, ”they said.
Launched in 2019, the idea of Byteboard was to create a tool that would make the technical maintenance experience less tedious and more efficient. The team noted at the time that the current software engineer interview process wasn’t really working to measure how successful someone would be in a day-to-day engineering job. Instead, interviews often benefited those who had the time and resources to prepare, as they would test memorization more than the practical application of people’s skills.
Its end-to-end service includes the interview platform, a benchmark bank of questions on over 20 essential software engineering skills, and an after-the-fact assessment. A group of experienced engineers review and grade the interviews. And this assessment is handled anonymously, with the aim of removing bias from the process.
The business took off after its debut in 2019. After a brief dip in the first days of Covid shutdowns, Byteboard resumed in the third quarter of 2020 as companies resumed hiring. According to Byteboard website, those who use its service include Lyft, Hulu, Figma, Imperfect Foods, PlayVS, Betterment, Robinhood, GoodRx, ETHOS, Ezoic, and Glowforge.
In addition to the benefits of conducting the interview process via the web, rather than in person (another concern in the age of Covid), the quality of data and assessment, and the less stressful environment for applicants, Byteboard could also save companies money, as they would no longer have to pay engineers to maintain staff and measure results.
However, the potential of Byteboard may have been limited as a product owned by Google.
Since engineers are part of the human assessment process with Byteboard, Google would have been part of the recruiting pool of other companies, including, in some cases, companies with which it competed directly. This obviously raises ethical issues, as companies would generally not let competitors get involved in their hiring process. This is largely why Byteboard is moving forward as its own business, instead of a Google-owned project.
Of Byteboard’s half-dozen team members, a few join the standalone company and a few choose to stay at Google where they will move on to new projects, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Google has not confirmed details of this aspect of the deal, but noted that Byteboard will continue to develop its core product and operational focus, with more to share in the coming months.