Thiel and Levchin backed freelancer management platform Lystable renamed Kalo


Lystable, a freelancer-centric recruitment, workflow management, and payments platform backed by PayPal co-founders, has been renamed Kalo.

Peter Johnson got the idea of starting a freelancer-management platform while working out of Dublin as a designer for a London-based Google design team that used over 150 freelancers a year. Having witnessed the problems for enterprises handling a ‘gig economy’ first hand, he launched Lystable in London with the aim of helping businesses hire, manage, and pay large numbers of freelancers with ease.

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A finalist at the 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt London and incubated by Techstars London, Lystable, now known as Kalo, has secured a total of $25 million in funding so far and boasts of an impressive clientele that includes Google, Airbnb, Expedia, The Economist, and ESPN.

PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin are among the startup's key investors. Thiel's Valar Ventures first participated in Kalo's $3.5 million seed round. It was then joined by Levchin's SciFi VC, along with Goldcrest Capital, Kindred Capital, and Spring Partners, in the startup's first Series A last year which saw Kalo raise $11 million. In March 2017, Kalo CEO Johnson raised a further $10 million in a Series A expansion round through funds provided by existing and new (Glynn Capital and Wilmont Ventures) investors.

The trend of hiring talent for short periods on a per-need basis, termed the gig economy, is presently witnessing a huge surge. But businesses, particularly large enterprises, are unprepared to handle the difficulties of hiring, managing, and paying contract workers.

Having shifted base from London to San Francisco, Johnson is now working on pivoting his company's business model from one that initially focussed on recruitment to one that simplifies the process of paying freelancers.

“I know the freelancer economy on the corporate side is still pretty new, and still being defined, but after we did those projects we realised we needed to become a team product,” Johnston told TechCrunch. “We still maintain those enterprise clients but we didn’t set out with a mission to help big corporations centrally control freelancers. That’s not what the future of work is about. It’s about freedom, and it’s about not having boundaries, and not being held back by crappy HR process and unsmooth onboarding."

With Microsoft's LinkedIn maintaining focus on traditional recruitment processes, Kalo currently stands unopposed to capitalise on the burgeoning freelance market.

“We have a lot of data on the shifting professional landscape, in particular we are looking to leverage this to improve how companies look at hiring, structuring their workforces, and help them make better spending decisions on full time employment versus freelance and contract,” Johnson told the media.