Startup Polywork Pitches a More Personal Professional Network

Some of Silicon Valley’s well-known startup founders are backing a new social and professional networking website built on the idea that people are more than their job titles.

The site, Polywork, raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by San Francisco-based early-stage venture capital firm Caffeinated Capital and counts YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, Affirm Inc. founder and Chief Executive Officer Max Levchin and co-founder of Twitch Kevin Lin as backers.

The New York City-based startup lets users create a free personality-focused professional profile where they can share updates and send collaboration requests to others on the network. In contrast to Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn, Polywork features “badges” to highlight personal and professional skills and interests as opposed to focusing just on a job title. Users also have the option to add projects and accomplishments to career timelines.

Whether it was pivoting careers or starting new projects like a podcast or a store on Etsy to pass the time, the pandemic amplified a growing trend of people who do more than one type of work. “Existing professional social networks use the job titles we hold and schools we went to as the main way to identify who we are -- and it’s flawed and outdated,” said Polywork founder and CEO Peter Johnston. Johnston, a former Google engineer, previously founded a company called Kalo, a platform that helped businesses manage their external workforce.

Polywork, which launched at the end of April, has about 2,000 users so far and is working to add those on a waiting list, which reached 9,000 in its first two weeks, Johnston said. While it’s free to make a profile, Johnston said the company will make money by offering premium templates in the future.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.