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Money Zenefits investors value HR startup at $4.5-billion

Zenefits, a provider of human-resource tools and services, raised $500-million in funds at a valuation of $4.5-billion as more companies seek ways to streamline their employee benefit programs.

Zenefits

Zenefits, a provider of human-resource tools and services, raised $500-million in funds at a valuation of $4.5-billion as more companies seek ways to streamline their employee benefit programs.

The round, led by Fidelity Management & Research Company and TPG, is the largest financing for a software-as-a-service business since 2012, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement Wednesday.

Zenefits provides free online software that companies use to manage benefits for their staff, including payroll, retirement accounts and health insurance. Insurers pay Zenefits to offer their services, and the startup has signed up more than 10,000 small-and medium-sized customers in the U.S. The startup needs new financing to hire more staff and speed up the pace of growth, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Parker Conrad said.

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"We're driving this car; we're driving it pedal-to-the– metal the entire way," Conrad said in an interview. "If you want to grow really fast, you burn a lot of gas."

Zenefits, which hired Yammer co-founder David Sacks as chief operating officer last year, said it plans to double headcount to 2,000 by the end of this year. The company opened an office in Arizona in November.

Zenefits last raised funds in June, attracting $66.5-million at a valuation of $500-million. Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Insight Venture Partners and Ashton Kutcher's Sound Ventures also participated in the latest round, along with existing investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Institutional Venture Partners and Jared Leto.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz. Zenefits is Andreessen Horowitz's largest investment to date, the startup said.

As of January, Zenefits had annual recurring revenue of $20-million, up from $1-million a year earlier, the company said. The company forecast that it would reach $100-million in sales by January 2016.

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