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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Haystack to Serve as Unified Hub for Remote Workforces

As businesses grow and branch into multiple divisions and units span cities and time zones, it can be easy for workers to feel disconnected. Los Angeles-based startup Haystack is launching to serve as a unified hub for employees to “receive important announcements, discover knowledge and learn about coworkers.”

Haystack, which is targeting companies with at least 300 employees, is entering a space consumed by various incumbents. This spans siloed internal company intranets through to third-party platforms. Haystack is betting a modern, easy-to-configure platform with deep enterprise integrations and universal search will garner attention.

Co-founded in 2019 by CEO Cameron Lindsay and CTO Haibo Zhao, a former senior software engineer at Google and more recently tech lead at Snap, Haystack started a pilot program in early 2020 with a high-profile eCommerce platform as its inaugural customer, followed later by other pilot customers including Nerdwallet and Chime.

Enterprises use Haystack to connect all their employees, systems and communication channels in a centralized hub. The company offers pre-built connectors for many of the popular SaaS business tools such as Slack, Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Workday, Okta, and Atlassian’s Confluence, while it offers an API for businesses that want to develop more customized integrations.

All this is designed to save personnel from having to switch among multiple applications to find the information they need for their jobs.

Haystack has all the features expected from a modern intranet, including employee directories and event management portals. Through Haystack, managers or HR personnel can draft an announcement and distribute it to everyone in the company through email, Microsoft Teams, Slack, SMS, or a self-branded company app. Haystack offers no-code customization so businesses can make the interface reflect their own branding.

Haystack’s analytics can surface insights into who has opened the message, and in the future, it will be able to apply sentiment analysis to show how it is being perceived.

Digging down into the security and privacy side reveals features such as disabling copy/paste and screenshotting and functionality that prevents leaked information. Additionally, management can stipulate that a message is watermarked with each employee’s name, to further dissuade information leaks.

Haystack plans to introduce some machine learning in the coming months.

In terms of costs, Haystack said it offers tailored pricing for each customer spread across two broad “professional” and “enterprise” tiers, with features like white-labeled mobile apps and custom URLs available across both, while custom integrations is limited to the enterprise incarnation.

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