Workpop wants to change the way people find jobs.
Chris Ovitz has brought Workpop to Texas.
Can Texas take on Silicon Valley? That is one question that has been top of mind as many tech companies are increasingly building or expanding campuses in our fair state. From Google in Austin to Snapchat quietly opening an office in Deep Ellum, there has been much buzz around major tech companies’ expanding presence here.
Start-up apps and digital platforms are looking to Texas, too. Case in point: Workpop, a job-finding platform that combines the notion of a social community with practical job-search tools, just launched in Dallas — the second market for the company, after debuting in Los Angeles and San Diego in 2014. (Workpop Houston will also launch this month.)
Founded by the cool Los Angeles duo of Chris Ovitz (son of Creative Artists Agency co-founder Michael Ovitz) and Reed Shaffner (a former GM of Zynga), the app is much like Uber or AirBnB in its ability to disrupt a tired, outdated way of doing things. “There is a huge opportunity to help people find jobs,” says Shaffner. “That is the mission: to put people in jobs that they love.”
A source of inspiration was Shaffner’s father, who lost his job as an engineer in the space program at Cape Canaveral when he was 61 years old. “He found himself re-entering the workforce,” says Shaffner, “and the way he was looking for jobs was the same way people were looking for jobs 20 years ago.”
Workpop bridges that gap in two ways: first, giving small- to mid-sized business owners access to tools that offer innovative hiring methods, typically only available to large companies; and second, helping job seekers find employment by way of a dynamic application process, video cover letters and a social forum that allows for resume feedback, job-hunt advice and conversation with prospective employers.
Texas was a natural fit for Workpop’s newest market. Says Shaffner: “Dallas and Houston have huge, huge populations of employees in the industries we serve … We are focused on businesses like restaurants and retail stores, and there tons of those employers, there. The markets are growing very fast, and as we looked outside of Southern California, it became a no-brainer.”
With board members that include Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, the platform is a business venture, no doubt. But there is also a civic-duty bent about Workpop that makes it all the more appealing — and hard not to like the guys behind it.
“It’s a noble mission,” says Ovitz. “It feels good to help people get jobs.”