Airtree’s investment in Jobbatical: bringing the best digital talent to the APAC region

Software is truly eating the world. Digital disruption has fueled the rise in prominence and importance of internet startups the world over. But startups are really just the tip of the iceberg. The five most valuable companies in the US are now all technology companies. Indeed, all companies must adapt to, and take advantage of, the changes being wrought by technology. Digital skills and expertise are key drivers of competitiveness and value creation for new and old businesses alike. It has never been a better time to be a software engineer, growth hacker or UX designer.

At AirTree, we live and breathe this every day. We are digital talent scouts. We simply can’t meet enough talented people with experience building and growing disruptive companies. Recruitment is the number one pain felt by every company in our portfolio. Our portfolio is thematic of the Australian startup scene and beyond: digital talent is the key limiting factor for success.

While tech talent has traditionally been concentrated in places like San Francisco and Tel Aviv, this must rapidly change. It’s now easier than ever to start and scale a company from anywhere. The number of well capitalised tech companies outside of Silicon Valley has never been higher. One need only look at the success of companies like Supercell, Atlassian, Waze and Tencent to see this.

These companies, and incumbent businesses alike, are yearning for digital talent. Banks, retailers, mining companies and others are all pushing a digital innovation agenda and need the right talent to execute on it. Jobbatical is helping solve the ensuing talent shortage. Karoli and the Jobbatical team’s goal is to redistribute digital talent more evenly around the world by offering year long working sabbaticals (“jobbaticals”) to more than 60,000 people across 40+ countries.

All of a sudden, a Sydney-based company will be able to employ a software engineer with 10 years of experience in Silicon Valley growth companies. The appeal to the employee is obvious: a one year working holiday which allows them to satisfy their wanderlust while simultaneously gaining relevant international experience. The employer is able to try before they buy. If all goes well, perhaps a permanent relocation might be on the cards.

The Asia Pacific region comprises a number of key markets for Jobbatical. They are already experiencing significant demand from companies in Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Australia and elsewhere. We’re delighted to be investing USD1m and partnering with Karoli, Ronald, Allan and the broader Jobbatical team as they expand into our region. We think Jobbatical can make a significant impact on our innovation ecosystem by bringing some of the world’s most talented people into local companies. The opportunity for Jobbatical itself is also tremendous: digital skills are just the start…

Welcome to the AirTree family!