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The Drum: Why We Are Rosie secured ‘growth shortcut’ backing from Align Capital Partners

by | Dec 22, 2021

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Originally posted on The Drum by John McCarthy, December 22, 2021.


Talent platform We Are Rosie has secured a major investment from private equity firm Align Capital Partners (ACP), with founder Stephanie Nadi Olson to retain a “significant” stake and remain as chief executive.

The group – which was founded in 2017 – is known for connecting diverse talent with Fortune 500 companies at a time where their shortcomings in representation have been brought to the fore. More than 40% of placed Rosies (the name given to members of its freelance network) identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color.

That freelance network has grown to 10,000 people in its four years of operation, and its core staff now numbers 40. It has also tripled its revenue in the past year while delivering more than 1,200 flexible projects.

Speaking to The Drum, Nadi Olson says the company will hire another 30 people, scaling up its tech operation in particular. “We’ve rolled out our proprietary 4Ps talent matching tool this year and will be building upon it to inch us closer and closer to a résumé-less future of work.”

The objective is for members of the network to be rated and matched in a more “holistic” manner.

But bringing PE involvement into what has been a fiercely independent operation could be tricky. Nadi Olson ensures us that ACP brings “head and heart” to the table and has strong experience with the coming scale up. She described it as a “major shortcut”, but praised the culture fit too.

“They are also a group of people who care deeply about our mission, understand fully what makes us special, and sincerely care about the culture that makes this place so special.”

So far ACP has had relationships with some 25 F500 businesses – it needed the investment to be able to provide for more. It also boasts partnerships with all six major advertising holding companies.

The details of the deal remain confidential – Nadi Olson shares that ACP has a “meaningful stake” and she has retained a “significant stake”. As the dust settles, the company’s valuation sits at around $110m post-investment.

When asked what the strongest element of the business was, Nadi Olson pointed to the fact that the model actually works and has deepened the company’s own talent pool.

“We’ve used our own model. At any given time, we have between five and 10 Rosies supporting us part-time or full-time, on a project or contract basis. It has allowed us to access the best and brightest talent on a fractional, as-needed basis, and has allowed us to grow the company with precision, inclusion and innovation at the center of everything we do here.”

As business needs change in coming years, it’ll be able to focus a slim-line (albeit growing) team on the business tasks at hand.