Barley launches with $4M to bring more trust and equity to pay, and make compensation more structured
In ancient Mesopotamia, grains of barley were among the earliest forms of currency in the world. If you were employed during that time, receiving payment in barley would guarantee that you were compensated fairly for your efforts. It is this fundamental principle that led the founders of Barley to the creation of their startup, a compensation management platform that makes it easy for companies to structure, analyze and manage pay.
Barley was founded by Jafar Owainati and Billy Mainguy. The two co-founders were drawn to the complex challenge of compensation by a shared passion for solving problems that impact people and their livelihoods every single day. Prior to founding Barley, the two have experience founding and scaling successful tech companies: Loopio and Reelhouse.
Today, Barley announced its official launch with $4 million in seed funding its mission of bringing more trust and equity to pay. The round was led by Golden Ventures with participation from Union Capital, an investor collective that includes prominent technology leaders at Facebook, Google, Shopify, and Uber.
Barley is addressing one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today: enhancing compensation decision-making processes that both employers can trust and employees can comprehend.
A recent Gartner survey found that only 38% of employees understand how their pay is determined. Barley improves the clarity and transparency of the compensation process, helping HR teams and managers make data-driven decisions that result in more equitable pay for all employees.
“Compensation is a company’s biggest expense, but comp management is often treated as a mere admin task. In 2023, companies have software tools for every important part of their business, but pay decisions are still made in scattered spreadsheets and email threads. That leaves leaders wondering if they are missing the big picture and employees questioning if they’re being paid fairly,” said Barley CEO Jafar Owainati. “Barley was built to help companies create and execute equitable pay strategies, giving people teams and managers the insights and guardrails for what they pay.”
Barley was co-founded by Owainati and CPO William Mainguy – both serial entrepreneurs who launched and grew successful technology startups Loopio and Reelhouse. Barley will use its funding for product development and to expand its go-to-market teams. Barley established a strong market foothold while in private beta, bringing on early customers such as Affinity, Flinks, and Properly, and launching integrations with popular HR and ATS platforms such as ADP, BambooHR, Greenhouse, and Lever.
“Successful companies need to balance rewarding employees, incentivizing great performance, and making sustainable long-term budget decisions. We see a white-hot market opportunity for Barley to help businesses get compensation right at a time when it is more important than ever,” said Matt Golden, managing partner at Golden Ventures. “I was compelled to invest in Barley by the founding team’s clear vision for a compensation platform that builds trust between employers and employees.”
Barley streamlines the entire compensation process, enabling companies to create consistent salary ranges, conduct pay equity analyses, and manage salary reviews. With robust integrations and access controls, Barley improves communication around compensation, while helping businesses save time, avoid mistakes and optimize their budget.
“We’ve created a solution that helps every single person at a company better understand compensation, from executive leadership to the individual employee,” said Mainguy. “Comp is complex and sensitive, so we place a lot of emphasis on the user experience. We thoughtfully distill what’s often intimidating information into powerful yet simple steps so companies can feel proactive, fair, and confident in their practices.”
“Barley makes compensation clear. Other solutions that I’ve used have felt clunky for admins and managers,” said Flinks Vice President of People Operations Brendan Yorke. “I’m regularly delighted by new features that Barley launches to better structure employee compensation, visualize our data, or make our experience even smoother. And, with partners as driven and customer-focused as Barley, the best is yet to come.”