Short takes: Ping Identity announces $44M round, Evernote updates iOS client, Michael Schrage’s Prepare for the New Permanent Temp

Ping Identity, the identity management pioneer, has announced closing a $44 million round led by W Capital Partners and DFJ Growth with participation from existing investors—General Catalyst Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Volition Capital, Triangle Peak Partners, SAP Ventures, and Appian Ventures, with debt provided by Silicon Valley Bank.

I’ve known Andre Durand, the CEO, for quite a while; since the company was founded a decade ago. Obviously time to catch up and see what he’s thinking.


Evernote has upgraded its iOS app, and the latest version (5.4) includes shortcuts, allowing users to flag important notes, notebooks and tags, making it much faster to access. When looking at a note, for example, you can swipe to show actions, and the star is used to make a shortcut.

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Clicking the star at the bottom opens shortcuts.

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I find I am using my iPhone more all the time for reading, so I am giving Evernote another try. Expect a deep writeup in a week or so.


Michael Schrage has a thought-provoking post at HBR that lines up with my recent observations on the postnormal transition to a fast-and-loose workforce with increasing proportions of freelance workers:

Michael Schrage, Prepare for the New Permanent Temp

The fastest-growing segments of America’s job market — by far — are temporary and part-time employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of US part-time employees hit a record high of 28 million. Temporary employment has jumped 50% since the depths of the financial crisis. This “ephemeral workforce” phenomenon isn’t just American; the UK has also set records in the contingently employed. Something profoundly structural is going on. Even healthier economic growth won’t make it go away.

More companies want far greater flexibility with far fewer people. Their greatest human capital concerns have shifted. They seem increasingly focused on productively cultivating that core 20% to 25% of people who reliably generate the 70% to 80% of enterprise value. They’re rethinking their economic relationships with the rest.

[...]

Have people been commoditized? Of course not. But the ways people’s knowledge, skills and expertise get plugged into the workplace has been. For roughly half of America’s workforce, the role, rules and requirements of “the job” are dramatically different than they were even a decade ago. Just ask anyone working in the health care, financial services, automobile, retail, media, publishing, education, advertising, real estate or defense industries.

It’s not that troubled economies and disruptive innovations inherently shed more jobs than they create; it’s that ongoing global restructuring of markets makes temporary and/or part-time employment more attractive for more organizations. Outside of the enterprise core group, bringing full-time employees onboard is increasingly seen as a riskier and less rewarding business bet.

And Schrage closes by suggesting that although those leveraging the labor of freelancers might not invest in their skills, but this might be a market opportunity:

As the brilliant economist, Treasury Secretary and former Harvard University President Larry Summers once observed, “In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car.” If this implies that no employers will invest in the upgrade of their “rented” temps and part-timers, that bodes very poorly for this rising class of worker.

My bet? Underemployed assets are frequently undervalued assets. Undervalued assets attract savvy investors and entrepreneurs. Prepare for the next New Permanent Temporary.

I’ve written a great deal about software platforms that make marketplaces (or placeforms) and the role they play in this explosive market. I believe that the entrepreneurs behind offerings like oDesk, eLance, and Work Market are the ones that will be best positioned to make a market on those undervalued assets.

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Stowe Boyd

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