Seattle technical interviewing startup Karat cuts 47 employees, citing need to invest in growth

Karat co-founders Mo Bhende, left, and Jeff Spector. (Karat Photo)

Karat, the Seattle-based startup that helps companies conduct technical interviews, has laid off 47 employees, citing the need to sharpen its business focus as it continues to grow.

“We are very intentionally focused on expanding our enterprise customer base, growing our footprint in India, scaling Brilliant Black Minds, and building new products,” a Karat spokesperson said via email on Friday. “We are self-funding these areas of investment, and doing so required us to restructure several teams.”

Karat employed close to 200 people in October 2021 when the startup raised a $110 million Series C round and reached “unicorn” status with a $1.1 billion valuation.

A LinkedIn search on Friday listed 423 employees, but Karat declined to say how many people remain at the company.

“These teammates were integral to growing Karat into the successful company it is today, and we are incredibly grateful to them,” the spokesperson added. “We have provided them with comprehensive exit packages, and we will do all we can to support their transitions.”

Founded in 2014, Karat is led by Mo Bhende, a former director for Xbox at Microsoft, and co-founder Jeff Spector, who previously was chief of staff to Melinda French Gates at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The startup uses a network of vetted interviewers who run the interviews via video conference, using a question format and scoring rubric based on research and analysis done by Karat. Companies receive feedback on the top qualified applicants, based on Karat’s diligence, as well as insights about their hiring process. The idea is to help companies screen more candidates while freeing up their own employees from interviewing responsibilities.

Its software is used by tech companies such as Compass, Intuit, and Indeed, and others including Ford, American Express, and Bank of America that need help interviewing engineers.

Karat’s Brilliant Black Minds uses Karat’s Interviewing Cloud to deliver free interview practice, feedback, and coaching to help aspiring Black software engineers prepare to successfully enter the tech industry. Tennis star Serena Williams invested in the startup last April.