A month after entering the expense management space, Rippling takes on global payroll – TechCrunch

When Parker Conrad founded Rippling in 2016, the HR company first focused on the employee onboarding process. It has since evolved to manage all aspects of employee data, from payroll and benefits, to applications used by employees, to a device management platform that allows Rippling customers to retrieve, cleanse and store employee computers when employees part ways with a company, like TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos reported last year.

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, Rippling unveiled what Conrad describes as the “biggest launch” of his career – his new global payroll product.

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in remote working, with companies that previously resisted hiring employees globally suddenly being forced to embrace the concept. One of the reasons companies have resisted this move for so long is the myriad compliance and administrative issues that come with paying people in other countries.

Over the past two years, a number of startups have sprung up to tackle the problem, including Deel, Remote, and Remofirst.

And now Rippling is ready to take on all these startups – including Deel, which is actually a customer from Rippling’s — with its new global offer. He says it will give US-based companies a way to pay workers around the world – whether full-time or contract – in a more “transparent” way. Conrad says his startup has an edge over competitors because its payroll product is integrated with its existing workforce platform, making it easier for businesses to integrate it with all of their existing data. This comprehensive approach is intentional, the executive says.

An Employee Graph, which contains all employee data, sits at the bottom of Rippling’s tech stack. On top of that, the company has what it calls middleware components, such as reports and analytics, custom policies, and permissions like role-based permissions workflow automation.

“Companies can now hire, pay and manage a workforce across the globe in a unified system, with the same automation, powerful policies and analytics, regardless of where employees are based,” did he declare.

Conrad also touts how quickly companies can move – saying companies can onboard employees and contractors in 90 seconds, run payroll “in minutes” in everyone’s local currency, and automate global compliance.

The executive also makes a lofty accusation – that the other players in the space are “in fact payroll aggregators.”

“These are companies that sit on a range of other local partners in terms of the actual payroll systems they use. And so they have these different systems in different countries, and it creates this kind of shitty experience for customers,” Conrad accuses. “Rippling is the first to build a single payroll system that can pay people around the world. I swear it’s the world’s first global payroll system.

Conrad is no stranger to the HR tech game. He previously founded Zenefits, which actually launched on the Disrupt scene in Battlefield in 2013. The entrepreneur quit after that company ran into compliance issues, and a few months later founded Rippling. His return to space has so far proven more successful than his first adventure. Exactly one year ago today, Rippling raised $250 million in a round that valued the company at $6.5 billion. As TC’s Loizos pointed out, this deal made Rippling more valuable than Zenefits ever was before selling a majority stake earlier this year to a private equity firm. Then, in May of this year, the startup raised another $250 million at a staggering $11.25 billion valuation, officially boosting it to decacorn status.

And now, with Rippling expanding into new verticals, the startup is diversifying its offerings and revenue streams. Last month, Rippling unveiled its new expense management offering, putting it in direct competition with Brex, Ramp, TripActions, and Airbase, among many other players in the space. By adding global payroll, Conrad believes Rippling’s product suite is stronger than ever.

I think a lot of the advice on how to start tech companies is wrong. I think people have been telling startup founders for 20 years that what you want to do is build something extremely narrow. And so people have built hundreds of these small, extremely narrow SasS companies, like point solutions,” Conrad told TechCrunch. “We kind of forgot about the benefits of deep system integration and bundled contracts and pricing, because 20 years ago you could count the number of enterprise software vendors on one hand.”

According to him, the move to the cloud has changed that and created an opportunity for entrepreneurs to take individual features from companies like SAP and Microsoft and rebuild them into standalone SaaS services. The founder is a believer in Rippling’s multi-pronged approach of creating multiple products in parallel.

“The move to the cloud is largely complete and we are now seeing a return to all-in-one cloud-native systems, where I think Rippling will dominate,” Conrad said.

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