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US-backed payroll software company Humanforce is the latest owner of fintech Earnd

Sydney payroll and workforce management software company Humanforce has acquired Australian arm of fintech Wagestream – formerly Earnd – for an undisclosed sum.

It’s the second local startup acquisition in six months by Humanforce, which is now backed by a private California firm that picked up Airtree-backed competitor Ento last September.

Accel-KKR spent $60 million in May last year acquiring a majority stake in 21-year-old Humanforce. That means the acquisition of Wagestream needs approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Wagestream Australia started in 2018 as Earnd, co-founded by Josh Vernon and Serge Kotlyarov, to give employees access to income as soon as they earn it. Following a $2.5 million raise in 2019, backed by NAB Ventures, Alvin Singh and Bosco Tan, and financial services firms including John Banfield, Andrew Birch and Rob Lederer,

It’s been a wild ride from then on, with the now infamous supply chain financing firm Greensill acquiring the company for around $20 million in 2020. When Greensill collapsed in early 2021, Earnd founder Josh Vernon managed to convince UK fintech Wagestream, also founded in 2018, to acquire the company from Greensill’s trustees. A year later, in April 2022, Earnd raised A$81 million in a Series C led by new US investors Smash Capital and BlackRock, alongside existing shareholders Balderton Capital, Northzone and charity fund Fair By Design.

It was renamed Wagestream Australia and is now handed over to Humanforce less than two years later.

About 1 million employees at companies such as Pizza Hut, Hungry Jack’s, JD Sports, BPAY, Freedom Furniture and Carnival Australia use Wagestream to receive their early pay. The platform also offers users advice on financial well-being.

Humanforce CEO Clayton Pyne said the acquisition of Wagestream Australia aligns with the company’s focus on providing deskless workers with the tools and technology “to make work easier and life better”.

“Humanforce is fully committed to helping Wagestream Australia customers continue to provide a positive employee experience,” he said.

“We are excited to join forces to ease the financial burden of employees while helping companies overcome the talent crisis so they can focus on improved productivity, compliance confidence and cost containment.”

Vernon said while financial stress is heightened for deskless workers, as their earnings tend to be erratic.

“With the combined power of Humanforce’s integrated workforce management and payroll solution, employees can manage their shifts and schedules, track their pay and manage their financial well-being with complete transparency through a single, unified Humanforce solution,” he said.

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