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Main article: Labor

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Activist gig workers seek to form nonprofit to support fellow workers

23:17 | 10 February

Vanessa Bain (pictured above), a well-known gig worker-activist, has teamed up with fellow gig worker-activist Sarah Clarke (pseudonym) to form the Gig Workers Collective. It’s early days for the organization, which is a pending 501(c)(3) organization, but its ambitions are big.

“We want to be the first responders that, whenever gig workers find out there is a pay cut or some type of issue, they’ll feel comfortable coming to us,” Clarke told TechCrunch.

The plan is to continue fighting for fair pay and better treatment for gig workers, whether they shop for Instacart, drive for Uber or Lyft, or deliver for Postmates and DoorDash. Through the organization, Clarke hopes to be able to help other gig workers effectively organize, file grievances and advocate for themselves.

“Vanessa and I have been organizing for four years,” Clarke said. “We’ve been doing it on the side while also maintaining working 40 hours a week gig jobs. If we focus solely on organizing, we can accomplish so much more.”

Over the years, Bain and Clarke have led a number of campaigns. More recently, they led a nationwide campaign that entailed six days of action in protest of Instacart. Last year, they also went on strike for 72 hours in demand of a better tip and fee structure.

Right now, the organization has a board of five gig workers and six workers who are contributing to the organization.

“Assuming we get funding, we can pay for everything they do,” Clarke said. “Right now, everything we pay for is out of pocket. With proper funding, we can pay workers who are working on the campaign.”

The next steps for the young organization are to try to get funding. However, Clarke said they will be selective about who they take funding from in order to ensure those funders don’t try to exert too much control.

She said, “the workers will always need to come first.”



The state of the unions

20:00 | 3 February

Sarita Gupta Contributor
Sarita Gupta is director of Future of Work(ers) at the Ford Foundation.

Imagine that your boss calls you and your co-workers into a meeting and announces that you are all getting raises. But before any glasses are raised for a toast, you are told that you’re not getting a raise, exactly, but being offered an opportunity to become an entrepreneur. Because you’re no longer an employee, but a contractor with no benefits, no protections and no real security.

Welcome to the experience of precarity in America. More and more, this very scene is playing out not only on factory floors, but inside large corporations and across major industries. While a new reality for white-collar workers, it’s been a common occurrence for farm laborers, domestic workers, waitstaff and many others who have been left unprotected — for decades — from the relief, recovery and reform advances that were cemented in the New Deal.

It’s become clear that there is an acute disconnect between the health of the country’s economy and the experiences of its workers. Over the last 40 years we have seen stagnation in worker compensation while productivity is at an all-time high. Low-wage workers account for 44% of all workers nationally. That’s 53 million Americans who rely on roughly $10 an hour, or just below $17,000 a year, to provide for themselves and their families. These are crises that need more than diagnoses; they require long-term vision and investment.

There has never been a more critical time to support our workers and demand stronger protections. We have a shared responsibility as a society, as we navigate the shifting environment of the future of work, to create a forward-looking, comprehensive plan that values the economic dignity of each and every worker.

Clean Slate for Worker Power aims to do just that. Under the vision and leadership of Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, and supported by the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a set of multi-stakeholder working and advisory groups has informed the initiative’s recommendations to reconstruct labor laws to bring balance and fairness to America’s economy.

This week, Clean Slate has released a roadmap to build worker power for a more just economy and democracy. These bold, actionable ideas are essential to reframe the political calculus to honor and protect the millions of workers who keep this country running and prosperous. And they represent exactly the type of big-picture, paradigm-shifting investments the philanthropic community should champion moving forward.

What is needed now is a new, not a revised, set of labor rules that reflect the needs and experiences of working people in a rapidly evolving global economy. Not only is our current economic system broken, leaving far too many hard-working individuals out of the equation, but the laws that helped unions form and build the middle class in the 20th century have not kept up with changes in the economy. Rampant deregulation prioritizes profit over all else. The safety net we have come to rely on is torn. With more and more corporations outsourcing or subcontracting, relying on gig models and shutting down opportunities to organize, they limit and, too often, diminish workers’ power and voice, curtailing their rights and holding down wages. Only by reworking the structures and systems will working people have the security and agency they need to determine their futures.

Existing efforts to support hard-working individuals are simply not enough. Workers across all industries need a seat at the table so they have a say in rebalancing our economy and building a true democracy where everyone can prosper. It’s these workers — who have been the most threatened by the shifts in our economy and who have experienced the worst of insecurity over the years — who are in the best position to lead and articulate the change necessary.

Changes are already mounting. Domestic workers in Seattle recently won a minimum wage, as well as rest and meal break rights thanks to organizing by the National Domestic Workers Alliance. On top of these protections, the domestic workers won the nation’s first Domestic Workers Standards Board, which will convene workers, employers and other representatives at a table to make recommendations on training, wage standards, paid leave, overtime, benefits and more.

This approach, known as sectoral bargaining and recommended in the Clean Slate report, will help to reverse historical exclusions based on race and ensure that all workers have a collective voice in determining how they work and their wages and benefits. The National Domestic Workers Alliance is  now attempting to push a similar effort at the federal level.

Another promising example of workers achieving collective voice across a sector is the Fight for $15 and a Union campaign in the fast-food sector, where New York City workers went on strike and won a wage board to set minimum wages for the sector as a whole. Instead of settling for the all-or nothing choice most workers face, between an exclusive collective bargaining union or no representation whatsoever, fast-food workers forged a new path to win higher wages.

Sectoral bargaining and the other innovations laid out in the Clean Slate for Worker Power report inspire us to rethink what is possible, because while winning change one campaign at a time has real impact for the lives of working people, workers in America need representation and protections at scale. We cannot go back 60 years to an imagined heyday for American workers, because we are well aware of the exclusions, especially those related to race and gender, that protected some while leaving others out of the fold. Instead, we must reimagine what will change the dynamic for the working people in America today.

We already see examples of this trailblazing vision in the actions of teachers in Oklahoma and West Virginia, who inspired the nation as they pushed beyond outdated collective bargaining laws and took a stand to fight for justice in a broken system — and won. That alone shows us what is possible through collective action — not only workers who stand together and fight, but whole communities, especially in positions of power and privilege, standing with them.

We may be living in the era of the individual, but the irony is that collective action is what is required to attain economic dignity for all. That means we need to build (and enshrine) the power of working people that translates to political and economic power. Otherwise, we will be left with an unequal society where corporate power dominates all facets of life and a disempowered working class struggles with limited opportunity and mobility.

The American Dream is perilously close to receding into the 20th century if we do not act now and defend the rights of the worker and rewrite the unfair rules of the economy. Every circle of society — from philanthropy to lawmakers to everyday community leaders and voters — must embrace a new vision and act. The stakes are enormous: Our democracy may very well depend on it.



The year of the gig worker uprising

20:17 | 26 December

2019 was a momentous year for gig workers. While the likes of Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash rely on these workers for their respective core services, the pay does not match how much they’re worth — which is a lot. It’s this issue that lies at the root of gig workers’ demands.

“This past year has been a pivotal year not only for gig workers but for workers across the tech economy,” Gig Workers Rising co-organizer Lauren Casey told TechCrunch. “That unto itself is a win — to see mass mobilization of workers across apps, across sectors and across positions.”

Instacart workers kicked off the year with a class-action lawsuit over wages and tips, and spoke out against Instacart’s practice of subsidizing wages with tips from customers. The suit alleged Instacart “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of customer tips went directly to shoppers. Based on this representation, Instacart knew customers would believe their tips were being given to shoppers in addition to wages, not to supplement wages entirely.”

Shortly after that lawsuit was filed, Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta apologized and said the company would take steps to ensure tips were counted separately. Following Instacart’s capitulation, DoorDash and Amazon eventually followed suit and stopped offsetting worker wages with tips.

While Instacart now pays workers their full wages plus 100% of tips, workers take issue with the fact that Instacart’s suggested default tip decreased from 10% to just 5%.

In October, Instacart shoppers went on strike for 72 hours across the nation. Instacart responded by getting rid of a $3 quality bonus. This month, Instacart shoppers are engaging in six days of actions in protest of the company, including filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor as well as filing a wage claim.

“We’re still just trying to get this one tiny thing: double the default tip percentage,” Instacart shopper and protest organizer Sarah (pseudonym) previously told TechCrunch. “We’ve tried endlessly to get them to raise the base guarantee pay. But we feel like, fine, at least give us the higher default tip.”

Meanwhile, DoorDash still has yet to offer back pay to workers who were subjected to the misappropriating of tips. In protest of Instacart, DoorDash and Postmates, labor group Working Washington delivered bags of peanuts their respective offices as a symbol of the pay workers receive.

“This was the year gig workers built a movement that seized control of the future of work from the tech lobbyists and venture capitalists,” Sage Wilson of Working Washington told TechCrunch.



Instacart shoppers plan a series of actions in protest of company’s wage practices

17:00 | 9 December

Instacart shoppers are continuing to hold the grocery startup accountable with their latest set of actions. Kicking off next Monday, Instacart shoppers plan to take one action per day, for six days in protest of Instacart.

“We’re still just trying to get this one tiny thing: double the default tip percentage,” Instacart shopper and protest organizer Sarah (pseudonym) told TechCrunch. “We’ve tried endlessly to get them to raise the base guarantee pay. But we feel like, fine, at least give us the higher default tip.”

Instacart currently suggests a default tip of 5% but workers want Instacart to increase it to 10%. Next week, Instacart shoppers plan to take a number of actions. including filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor as well as filing a wage claim.

Sarah, who has been an Instacart shopper for four years in California, says shoppers have become furious because it’s clear Instacart does not respect them.

“We’re trying to continuously show them that we do have power,” Sarah said. “I believe this protest of seven days is going to be the most powerful thing we’ve ever done because it has the ability to really fuck them up.”

The full schedule is as follows:

  • December 16: File complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, asking the department to audit Instacart’s previous practice of misappropriating tips
  • December 17: Contact federal legislators and ask them to hold Instacart accountable to minimum wage laws and more
  • December 18: File a wage claim regarding Instacart’s classification of shoppers as 1099 independent contractors
  • December 19: Hand-deliver binders, filled with a letter and personal notes from workers, to CEOs of six partner stores. Workers want partner stores to help ensure minimum standards and earnings.
  • December 20: Contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding how Instacart shoppers sometimes have to fulfill heavy orders, which can lead to injuries on the job.
  • December 21: Contact state legislators

This comes after Instacart shoppers organized a nationwide protest where they went on strike for 72 hours in demand of a better tip and fee structure. Following that protest, Instacart got rid of the $3 quality bonus.

“When we did the walk-off, that required people to take off several days from work,” Sarah said. “We don’t want people to miss out on money so we’re doing something that will take less time.”

So far, more than 300 workers have signed up to participate in the seven days of action. This upcoming action follows years’ worth of protesting. Back in 2016, Instacart removed the option to tip in favor of guaranteeing its workers higher delivery commissions. About a month later, following pressure from its workers, the company reintroduced tipping. Then, in April 2018, Instacart began suggesting a 5% default tip and reduced its service fee from a 10% waivable fee to a 5% fixed fee.

Instacart has previously said it’s committed to providing its shoppers with an earnings structure that offers upfront pay and guaranteed minimums.

“We respect the voices of all shoppers and take the feedback of our community very seriously,” an Instacart spokesperson previously said in a statement. “We will continue to listen and engage with shoppers to improve their experience.”



Fired Google workers will file federal complaint alleging the company wrongfully terminated them

17:34 | 3 December

The four ex-Google employees, also known as the “Thanksgiving Four,” who were fired right before the holiday, are planning to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

“We look forward to hearing the NLRB’s findings, which we expect will confirm that Google acted unlawfully,” ex-Googlers Laurence Berland, Paul Duke, Rebecca Rivers and Sophie Waldman wrote on Medium today.

The plan is to argue that Google fired them for organizing, which is a protected activity. As the Thanksgiving Four outlined on Medium, they organized around a variety of topics, including Google’s treatment of its temporary, vendor and contractor workers, Google’s alleged retaliation against employees who organized, the company’s work with Customs and Border Protection and more.

“Google didn’t respond by honoring its values, or abiding by the law,” the four wrote on Medium. “It responded like a large corporation more interested in revenue growth than in ensuring worker rights and ethical conduct. Last week, Google fired us for engaging in protected labor organizing.”

Last month, Google put Rivers and Berland on leave for allegedly violating company policies. At the time, Google said one had searched for and shared confidential documents that were not pertinent to their job, and one had looked at the individual calendars of some staffers.

Following a protest in support of the two, Rivers, Berland, Duke and Waldman were fired.

Google declined to comment but confirmed an internal note published by Bloomberg, which said Google fired a total of four employees for repeatedly violating its data-security policies.

Since the massive employee-led walkout last November, organizers say Google has tried to undermine further attempts to organize. In July, walkout co-organizer Meredith Whittaker left the company following reports of retaliation in April. Organizers of the rally say both Rivers and Berland were put on leave for “simply looking at openly shared internal information.”

The Thanksgiving Four’s terminations came shortly after The New York Times reported Google hired an anti-union firm, IRI Consultants. Google employees, who the Times kept anonymous, discovered Google’s relationship with ISI via internal calendar entries.

“Google fails to understand that workers are the ones who built the company and its most successful products,” the four wrote. “And that we can stop building them. No company — tech giant or otherwise — should be able to interfere with workers’ rights to organize for better working conditions, including ethical business practices.”

TechCrunch has reached out to Google and will update this story if we hear back.



DoorDash tipping practices prompts lawsuit from DC Attorney General

20:08 | 19 November

DoorDash is facing a new lawsuit regarding its tipping practices. This time, it’s coming from Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. In the suit, Racine accuses DoorDash of engaging in deceptive tipping practices while also failing to provide any relief to workers whose tips were taken.

Racine’s office first opened an investigation into DoorDash’s practices in March 2019. In D.C., the suit alleges DoorDash customers paid millions of dollars in tips that the company used to offset the costs of its payments to workers over the span of two years. Racine’s office is seeking to make DoorDash pay damages and restitution.

“We strongly disagree with and are disappointed by the action taken today,” a DoorDash spokesperson told TechCrunch in an email. “Transparency is of paramount importance, which is why we publicly disclosed how our previous pay model worked in communications specifically created for Dashers, consumers, and the general public starting in 2017. We’ve also worked with an independent third party to verify that we have always paid 100% of tips to Dashers. We believe the assertions made in the complaint are without merit and we look forward to responding to them through the legal process.”

The suit focuses on how DoorDash had been offsetting the amount it pays its delivery drivers with customer tips. DoorDash’s payment structure as follows: $1 plus customer tip plus pay boost, which varies based on the complexity of order, distance to restaurants and other factors. It’s only when a customer doesn’t tip at all, which DoorDash told Fast Company happens about 15 percent of the time, that DoorDash is on the hook to pay the entire guaranteed amount.

In July, DoorDash announced it would change its tipping model, about a month after it doubled down on that same model. In August, DoorDash revealed how its new model would work but it later made clear that it would not be paying back any workers for lost wages.

“There’s no ‘back pay’ at issue here because every cent of every tip on DoorDash has always gone and will always go to Dashers,” a DoorDash spokesperson previously told TechCrunch via email in response to a question about whether or not DoorDash would back pay its delivery workers.

When Instacart changed its tipping practices earlier this year, it retroactively compensated shoppers when tips were included in the payment minimums. DoorDash, however, does not see the need for back pay. DoorDash fully implemented its new policy in September.

Meanwhile, DoorDash is funding a ballot initiative alongside Uber and Lyft to try to ensure it doesn’t have to treat its workers as W-2 employees.

The ballot measure looks to implement an earnings guarantee of at least 120% of minimum wage while on the job, 30 cents per mile for expenses, a healthcare stipend, occupational accident insurance for on-the-job injuries, protection against discrimination and sexual harassment and automobile accident and liability insurance.

This initiative is a direct response to the legalization of AB-5, the gig worker bill that will make it harder for the likes of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other gig economy companies to classify their workers as 1099 independent contractors.

I’ve reached out to DoorDash and will update this story if I hear back.



Instacart is under fire for how it compensates shoppers

19:18 | 12 November

The Tech Workers Coalition and Gig Workers Rising are outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco this morning in support of shoppers, who demand Instacart reinstate the $3 quality bonus, implement a 10% default tip and eliminate its service fees.

Last week, Instacart got rid of the $3 quality bonus shortly after thousands of shoppers participated in a 72-hour strike where workers demanded a better tip and fee structure. By protesting outside of Instacart’s SF HQ, shoppers are hoping to reach employees and get them on their side.

“We’re asking that Instacart employees urge management to reverse this decision,” organizers wrote in a handout…”As a worker who builds the product, you have a say over how it’s used.”

Back in 2016, Instacart removed the option to tip in favor of guaranteeing its workers higher delivery commissions. About a month later, following pressure from its workers, the company reintroduced tipping. Then, in April 2018, Instacart began suggesting a 5% default tip and reduced its service fee from a 10% waivable fee to a 5% fixed fee.

“We take the feedback of the shopper community very seriously and remain committed to listening to and using that feedback to improve their experience,” an Instacart spokesperson told TechCrunch last month.

The protest was on the heels of a class-action lawsuit over wages and tips, as well as a tipping debacle where Instacart included tips in its base pay for shoppers. Instacart, however, has since stopped that practice and provided shoppers with back pay. Though, Fast Company recently reported that Instacart delivery drivers’ tips are mysteriously decreasing.

Following Instacart’s post-protest move to eliminate the $3 quality bonus, #DeleteInstacart and #BoycottInstacart started making waves on Twitter. California Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez, the one who authored gig worker bill AB 5, joined in.

TechCrunch has reached out to Instacart and will update this story if we hear back.



Labor leaders and startup founders talk how to build a sustainable gig economy

01:44 | 17 October

Over the past few years, gig economy companies and the treatment of their labor force has become a hot button issue for public and private sector debate.

At our recent annual Disrupt event in San Francisco, we dug into how founders, companies and the broader community can play a positive role in the gig economy, with help from Derecka Mehrens, an executive director at Working Partnerships USA and co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising — an advocacy campaign focused on fighting for tech worker rights and creating an inclusive tech economy — and Amanda de Cadenet, founder of Girlgaze, a platform that connects advertisers with a network of 200,000 female-identifying and non-binary creatives.

Derecka and Amanda dove deep into where incumbent gig companies have fallen short, what they’re doing to right the ship, whether VC and hyper-growth mentalities fit into a sustainable gig economy, as well as thoughts on Uber’s new ‘Uber Works’ platform and CA AB-5. The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Where current gig companies are failing

Arman Tabatabai: What was the original promise and value proposition of the gig economy? What went wrong?

Derecka Mehrens: The gig economy exists in a larger context, which is one in which neoliberalism is failing, trickle-down economics is proven wrong, and every day working people aren’t surviving and are looking for something more.

And so you have a situation in which the system we put together to create employment, to create our communities, to build our housing, to give us jobs is dysfunctional. And within that, folks are going to come up with disruptive solutions to pieces of it with a promise in mind to solve a problem. But without a larger solution, that will end up, in our view, exacerbating existing inequalities.



Learn how to help build a sustainable gig economy at Disrupt SF

19:00 | 26 September

A handful of years ago, the on-demand or ‘gig’ economy was seen as an innovative system of modern work that provided workers and consumers alike with flexibility, independence, and convenience. It seems like every week, a new on-demand or labor marketplace startup would stroll through Sand Hill Road with a slick logo and a new way to flip the nature of work on its head and would walk out with seven-figure checks.  

However, the gig economy ballooned — now permeating nearly every major industry — and its negative externalities have become inescapably evident. In the past year alone, whether it was new headline-grabbing regulations or new disclosures from the high-profile IPOs of Uber and Lyft, the issue of inequitable labor treatment for gig workers has risen to the forefront of public debate. Now, more activists, founders and companies are dedicated to figuring out how to create a more just and sustainable economic system for gig workers.

This year at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, we’ll be joined on the Extra Crunch stage by a panel of gig-focused civic leaders and founders to break down how one can best be a positive force in the modern gig economy.

From the activist side, we have Derecka Mehrens, an Executive Director at Working Partnerships USA and co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising – an advocacy campaign focused on fighting for tech worker rights and creating an inclusive tech economy. Though Silicon Valley Rising, Derecka has worked with some of the Valley’s largest and most influential tech giants (including Google and Apple) to invest in and improve labor and renter housing protections for local workers. With roughly two decades in civic advocacy, Derecka has helped and continues to help Bay Area workers organize, play more active roles in local policy, and reach milestone victories in wage improvement.

We’ll also dive into the founder’s perspective with Amanda de Cadenet, founder of Girlgaze, a platform that connects advertisers with a network of 200,000 female-identifying and non-binary creatives. Prior to founding Girlgaze, Amanda founded the website, online community and interview series known as “The Conversation”, which focuses on female empowerment and bringing to light key social issues that plague the female-identifying population. As a former photographer, author and TV host herself, Amanda continues to build companies determined to shift the lack of diverse and equal gender representation in media and creative industries. 

We’ll be diving deep into all the roles to be played by the public sector, startups and the private sector, gig workers themselves and the broader community in ensuring we have an equitable future of work landscape. We couldn’t be more excited to tackle all these topics and we hope to see you there! Buy tickets to Disrupt SF here at an early-bird rate!

Did you know Extra Crunch annual members get 20% off all TechCrunch event tickets? Head over here to get your annual pass, and then email to get your 20% discount. Please note that it can take up to 24 hours to issue the discount code.



Paro raises $10 million series B to offer corporate finance expertise on demand

14:00 | 26 September

As any CFO can attest, corporate finance is extraordinarily complicated. From tax preparation, to financial controls, to cash flow estimation and more, the finance department of any major company often has to turnaround sophisticated analyses with extreme attention to detail — and quick.

Most of the time, businesses outsource at least part of those financial functions to the big four accounting firms or to smaller firms, but as with all consulting firms, getting contracts signed and work underway can take significant time and effort.

That’s where Paro comes in. The Chicago-based expert marketplace wants to provide corporate clients with on-demand sophisticated expertise across a range of financial functions.

The company announced today that it has raised a $10 million series B venture capital round led by Mark Fernandes of Sierra Ventures. Existing investors Revolution Ventures, KGC Capital, and Tom Williams also participated.

When we last checked in with Paro 18 months ago, it had just raised a $5 million series A from Clara Sieg at Revolution. Since that time, the marketplace has continued to expand, and CEO and co-founder Michael Burdick says that the company is increasingly zero-ing in on the types of clients that best match the platform’s offerings.

“The cognitive load is huge,” Burdick explained for companies trying to find this talent on existing marketplaces. “You’re posting project descriptions, you’re wading through all these mountains of unfiltered proposals, you’re having to shortlist candidates.” That often leads CFOs right back to the incumbent accounting firms, since they are much more plug-and-play.

Paro has taken a different tact, focusing instead on recruiting and retaining the highest-quality financial talent on its marketplace. The company has built out and continues to improve tools to help the marketplace’s experts focus on the work that makes them unique rather than the drudgery that can come as part of their jobs. We’re “automating a lot of their back office functions [and] giving them workflow automation tools to make them more productive and efficient and earn more,” Burdick said. He dubbed this the “freelancer operating system.”

Sieg of Revolution also noted that the pursuit of quality has been beneficial for Paro’s bottom line. “Unlike a consulting gig, where it’s a one-time analysis and a sort of lumpy engagement, you need monthly financials, you need annual tax reporting, you need audit work, and so these are really ongoing relationships,” she said. That “gets us away from some of the informal problems that you’ve seen in labor marketplaces, which is really high customer acquisition costs, and relatively low take rates, and not very much recurring business.”

As Paro scales, Burdick sees an opportunity to leverage the firm’s data network effects to build a moat around its business. “There is inherently a wealth of data at our fingertips that we’re leveraging, giving back to the freelancers and the clients,” he said.

Online labor marketplaces targeting business functions have grown dramatically in popularity in recent years, with companies like Pilot raising large rounds of venture capital. Burdick says that Paro differentiates from bookkeeping services like Pilot by focusing on elite financial talent which ultimately leads to higher margins.

The company intends to use the capital to continue expanding its product and sales staffs.


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