- Employee feedback platform Culture Amp has raised $US40 million in a series D funding round led by Blackbird Capital.
- CEO Didier Elzinga started the company in 2009 after 13 years at a visual effects company that worked on movies like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
- The company is also launching a new diversity and inclusion survey within the platform.
Didier Elzinga was the CEO of an Australian visual effects company when he joked that being a CEO was “like being a glorified psychiatrist.”
That’s when he had an idea. With his engineering know-how, he could to create a software solution that focused on company culture. Wanting out of the film industry and with a general direction in mind, Elzinga decided to leave Rising Sun Pictures – which worked on films like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings – in 2009 after 13 years.
“If I wanted to do something bigger to make a dent in the world, a software company was the right way to do it,” Elzinga told Business Insider in an April interview. “A lot of what I spent my time on when running Rising Sun pictures was in thinking about people and culture. A lot of that formed the basis of Culture Amp.”
Today, Culture Amp is an employee feedback platform used by teams at Yelp, McDonalds, and Airbnb. The company has just raised $US40 million in a series D funding round led by Blackbird Capital, the company tells Business Insider. To date, Culture Amp has raised more than $US74 million.
“I think people are starting to shift into thinking that company culture matters and people don’t want to outsource that,” Elzinga said. “And they want to bring that data in-house.”
‘It’s about how people feel’
Culture Amp is also launching a diversity and inclusion survey within the platform, which Elzinga says will not only help companies gather demographic information, but will also collect data about how employees feel. The survey was developed with consulting firm Paradigm.
“It’s about how people feel, not just what they look like,” Elzinga said.
The platform works by surfacing “nudges” about how companies can be more inclusive. But based on employee feedback – and what is and isn’t successful – those “nudges” change. Ths learning loop is what Elzinga said investors were excited about.
All about scale
Elzinga started working at Rising Sun Pictures in the mid-90s as an entry level software engineer after he graduated from university in Australia.
Rising Sun Pictures was a small firm doing commercials at the time, but as Elzinga was climbing the ranks of the company, eventually becoming CEO in 2004, it started working on blockbuster films like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Batman movies. The company animated the spider in the 2006 live-action Charlotte’s Web movie, which put the company on the map.
But with the growth came stress. Elzinga realised the film industry was fickle, making a company difficult to scale. He wanted to do something “more meaningful.” In 2009, he quit and started Culture Amp, which is headquartered in Melbourne.
Elzinga doesn’t miss the film industry, but he at times misses the craft. During Culture Amp’s Christmas party last year, employees got a private screening of the Last Jedi. When the credits started rolling, Elzinga waited until he was the last person in the room so he could see the people who worked on the film’s visual effects.
“The only thing I miss is the craft, sitting there until the end and looking at what you’ve been able to create after months of working on something. But what I’m doing now is much more meaningful,” he said.
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