David Baga is going to be getting a new paycheck, which is very appropriate, all things considered.
Even a ‘pay-on-demand’ startup that ‘equalizes’ workers’ paychecks to give them financial stability and flexibility, will announce later this morning that Baga is joining the company as the new CEO, effective from March 1, replacing current co-founder and CEO Jon Schlossberg. Schlossberg will remain with the company full time as executive chairman.
Baga was most recently at Lightspeed Venture Partners, the leading venture capital firm he joined in late 2019 as COO. Prior to Lightspeed, Baga was Commercial Director at Lyft and Revenue Director at RocketLawyer.
Even was founded in 2014 by Schlossberg and a coterie of other co-founders focused on a mission to disrupt the payday lending industry with better tools for workers who increasingly live on paychecks. Workers who are excluded from a shift, for example, often have to scramble to meet their upcoming financial obligations, forcing them to take out usurious payday loans. Even’s product was designed to give workers better visibility and control over their pay, by offering tools like Instapay that offer an advance on their already earned wages. Notably, Even is working on a subscription model designed to align its incentives with its worker-users to avoid predatory practices that plague the industry.
I last covered the company in 2018 when it raised a $ 40 million Series B from Keith Rabois, who was then at Khosla Ventures. Even has had significant traction, reaching 650,000 members today, according to the company, and, most notably, it has an extensive partnership with Walmart, which this week announced it was raising the salaries of 425,000 of its associates in store, or about a third of its workforce. Even said that 53% of its members use the product daily.
Schlossberg says that while the company has had significant success in creating a high-quality product, it needs to focus more on revenue growth. “I’m a CEO very concerned with the product and what we needed in the zero-to-one phase,” he said, referring to the concept of achieving product-to-market fit. But, “I’m not a business growth CEO. This opportunity and problem deserves someone who can massively increase the likelihood of doing [Even] as ubiquitous as 401 (k) s.
He said the company had started looking for an COO to add business selling experience to the management team, but came empty-handed. “So we offered the best position to get better candidates, and that’s what he did and we found David,” he said.
For Baga, Even’s story is part of its own past. I ‘grew up with many blue collar first generation Canadians – I can relate to even a lot of [ways], “he said. He migrated to the Valley during the dot-com bubble, holding various sales positions at companies like Oracle. His first startup experience was at RocketLawyer when there were only 20 people.” RocketLawyer aimed to make legal services affordable for all Americans, ”a mission that resonated with Baga.
From there, he said he eventually partnered up with Logan Green and John Zimmer in 2012 while they were still operating Zimride, and would eventually join the renowned company Lyft in 2015 as they “reflected. to a B2B version with large companies ”. He has worked on corporate and city partnerships as well as Lyft Health, a ridesharing product designed for non-emergency medical transportation.
Baga says he wanted to stay in smaller organizations, and as Lyft went public and grew to gargantuan size, he wanted to go back to a smaller business. He eventually landed at Lightspeed as the company’s COO.
Baga objected during our call to describe his stay at Lightspeed or his reasoning for leaving after a year and a half. Notably, Even is not a Lightspeed portfolio company. Instead, he connected with Schlossberg as Even ramped up his search for a CEO and found that there was “a strong alignment of values” and “they are tackling real issues … but with a fair business model “.
In an email later, Baga said, “It has been a privilege to work with Lightspeed Ventures and I will always be grateful to have the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic organization. At Lightspeed, I was at front row seats of entrepreneurs sharing their vision to change the world, they inspired me to answer the call to rebuild.
Taking the reins on March 1, Baga said his top priorities are “to help the team get to know me, understand customers and our prospects, and understand the roadmap and product strategy.” Schlossberg said Even already has “a pretty strong list of referenced clients across all employment verticals” and “now is the time to grow it.” As Baga steps into the role, Schlossberg said the company is likely to lift a Series C round “within this year.”
Job insecurity isn’t going away anytime soon in America, but as last year has shown, there are tools that can help more workers find resilience in their jobs. Even’s hope is that a well-built machine for improving wages can be quickly developed to make a difference in this economy.
Updated on February 22, 2021 to clarify that Instapay gives access to salaries already earned, and not to a salary advance on future income.