Phenom, the Ambler-based hiring software maker that counts Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, and 300 other companies as clients, is now big enough to buy another software firm instead of building from scratch: It plans to announce Wednesday morning that it will buy My Ally, a Palo Alto, Calif., firm that automates the scheduling of job interviews.

“Their curious, energetic culture fits well with our own," said Phenom CEO Mahe Bayireddi, the India-trained engineer and Temple MBA who co-founded Phenom (previously iMomentous and Phenom People) with ex-CareerBuilder.com executive Brad Goldoor and his brother Hari Bayireddy in 2011.

To speed its growth last year, Phenom raised $30 million last winter from a group of Silicon Valley investors led by Mauritius-based, India-focused Westbridge Capital. Bayireddi won’t say how much he is paying for My Ally.

Mahe Bayireddi, co-founder and chief executive of Phenom, the Ambler-based HR software developer.
Phenom
Mahe Bayireddi, co-founder and chief executive of Phenom, the Ambler-based HR software developer.

Both companies are based in the United States but recruit many of their engineers in Hyderabad, one of India’s tech centers, where talent is less expensive. Phenom now employs 700, including 150 in Ambler, 450 in Hyderabad, and the rest in Rotterdam, Netherlands, London, Israel, and remote sites. My Ally employs 46 in California and India.

Phenom plans to add My Ally, which schedules more than 600 job interviews a day through automated emails for clients such as Hello Fresh, Agoda, and Snowflake, to Phenom’s Talent Experience Management (TXM) platform to speed job applications and collect applicant and job data for future use through chatbot, SMS, and other instant links.

Phenom’s campaign to cut the labor out of hiring has raised a total of $58 million in outside funding, starting with local investors such as Richard Vague’s Gabriel Investments, Kenexa founder Rudy Karsan, and ex-ViroPharma CEO Vincent Milano, and progressing to venture capitalists such as Sierra Ventures and Omidyar Ventures, alongside Westbridge.

My Ally’s backers, who will profit from the sale, include the India-based Saha Fund and DoorDash investor Gokul Rajaram.

Phenom’s goal is to “relentlessly deliver the most advanced artificial intelligence and automation for HR technology” in the face of rising global demand, said Tim Guleri, managing partner at Phenom and co-owner of Sierra Ventures, in a statement welcoming the deal.

My Ally founder Deepti Yenireddy, who boasts that the company is a rare “AI-powered solution capable of human-like communications,” said she was looking forward to “joining forces with Phenom.”

Philly baker wins SBA honor

At the end of 2019, nearly a decade after she opened Silvia Bakery, Silvia Paulino moved her store, with her Dominican pastries and flan quisqueya, to larger quarters at 2530 N. Second St., in Philadelphia’s Bloque de Oro Latino business district, ready to grow.

When the coronavirus forced retailers to close, Paulino studied safety rules and brought staff in part time to fill special orders. She also borrowed $200,000 in a federal Small Business Administration-backed “forgivable” Paycheck Protection Program loan through the Finanta community-lending agency, which helped fund her earlier move, to keep her rowhouse-sized bakery in business.

She used every dollar to retain her dozen employees. “I have a young workforce who needs stable employment” and the life and work skills that could put each of them in their own business someday, Paulino said afterward. The PPP money has run out, but business is back and she still has her dozen employees, she told me.

On Monday, the SBA named Silvia the Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year for eastern Pennsylvania.

Like many SBA-backed enterprises, it is a family shop: “Her oldest daughter, a culinary school graduate, runs production; her son manages the financial side; her sister-in-law serves as Silvia’s right hand; and her husband manages distribution,” SBA district director Steven Dixel noted. “Silvia is the true definition of a spirited entrepreneur who doesn’t limit success and seizes opportunities” that also help the community.

Finanta’s senior vice president, Kersy Azocar, praised Paulino’s “passion, energy, optimism, and tireless creativity,” and noted she was one of the first graduates of last year’s inaugural class of Ella Emprende (She Takes It On), an entrepreneurship program run by Widener University and the region’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“They were all here today to visit us, from the SBA. I was very, very content,” Paulino told me later. “And next? We will all have to get up and work hard again tomorrow.”

Silvia Paulino and her staff, pre-coronavirus, at her new, larger Philadelphia bakery. Thanks to a PPP loan arranged by Finanta through the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a lot of creative reorganization, Paulino says she has been able to put her whole staff back to work. Photo by Jesus Rincon / Finanta
Finanta
Silvia Paulino and her staff, pre-coronavirus, at her new, larger Philadelphia bakery. Thanks to a PPP loan arranged by Finanta through the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a lot of creative reorganization, Paulino says she has been able to put her whole staff back to work. Photo by Jesus Rincon / Finanta