WorkSimple Is Shutting Down (and why you didn’t know who they were)

I got a note earlier this week – WorkSimple, a pretty innovative SaaS play in the performance/social recognition space, is closing its doors in a matter of days.  Here’s the email that went out from Morgan Norman, the founder:

WorkSimple is Shutting Down ws_logo_medium

After exhausting all options, we are forced to close WorkSimple. We’re devastated to have to shut down the service, but unfortunately due to capital constraints, we have no choice.

It has been an incredible journey and we’re heartbroken not to be able to continue on. We’ve created the Social Performance space with you and demonstrated that there is significant demand for this type of service, but not yet enough demand to support what the company needs.

We have an incredible community of customers and partners across the globe that have helped shift how we work together. We believe this will continue in the marketplace.

What about the app?

We’ll keep the platform running through February after which we will have to shut it down; however, we recommend you begin taking data off the application as soon as possible.

The simplest way to get goal data is via exports in the reporting section of the application. If you are a paying customer and need exports beyond what reporting provides, please email help.


We’re grateful you chose WorkSimple, and we’re very sorry to have let you down.


The WorkSimple Team

Some of you are saying “so what?”  I was shocked to get this email, as I had demoed the product in 2012 and included WorkSimple solution in a shortlist of 5 providers to consider for clients Kinetix helped revamp their approach to performance in 2012. WorkSimple had a great solution. Here’s how they describe themselves on their website:

WorkSimple began with a simple idea – what if there was a way to measure people on actual results and work. And Social Goals was born.

We decided to create the industry’s first social performance platform based on actual work and social goals that happen throughout the workday. It would be designed for everyone, every employee, it would be easy to use, and would focus on communication, visibility, transparency, with a game changing user experience.

We learned along the way that employees love social goals. They knew for the first time what was expected of them and what they could expect from the company. They could see what others are working on, and how their job role and goals impacted the greater objectives of theirs peers, team and company.

Managers and employees used their goals as discussion guides on a weekly basis. Problems were getting solved, employee coaching and performance feedback was emerging, performance behaviors were discovered, and engagement was happening.

Our vision and platform is on track to fundamentally change the way employees and companies view performance and each other. We help build your performance network in a single day.

WorkSimple attempted to merge the social revolution with performance management, with its solution asking for employees to enter the things they were working on, then receive feedback on how they were doing from other employees – a recognition play built into the solution.  In recent releases, they had matured the product to the point where managers could roll up that goal setting and feedback process into an actual, traditional performance review – something I thought they needed to do to meet the need of traditional organizations.

Sadly, the biggest barrier to the solution was probably getting all your employees to use the system on a daily basis to show what they were working on, what areas of focus that rolled up to, and also to give feedback and recognition to others.

Translation:  User Adoption is a bitch.

Worksimple had a pretty kick-@$$ team.  They swung for the fences on the future of performance management.  They got it right in many ways.  I’m guessing they were 5-10 years ahead of the curve.  The lameness of our approach to performance management globally couldn’t catch up to them.

And that reality is why you probably never heard of them, which stinks.  For them and you.

Bay area companies – check out the talent at WorkSimple – there are some great folks who are free agents.

FOT Background Check

Kris Dunn
 Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard the good word, he's also jumped into the RPO game as part owner of a rising shop out of ATL, Kinetix. Not your mama's recruiting process outsourcing, that's for sure... check 'em out.


  1. Steve Boese says:

    Wow, I had not seen this and am sorry to learn about WorkSimple shutting down. I had seen the solution a couple of times and also thought that they had developed a truly innovative, interesting, and engaging way for employees and teams to think about goals, coaching and performance. I think in some ways they were too far ahead of the market – ‘social’ might one day become a fundamental part of goal setting, performance management, (and eventually compensation), but I don’t think most organizations, (and probably individual employees) are ready for that just yet. The market always has the final say on whether an idea, product, or approach is successful, but this time, at least to me, the market got one wrong.

  2. Kris Dunn
    Kris Dunn says:

    Steve – it’s interesting to think about why they’re shutting down the doors. With the solution you and I saw, it’s hard to believe that capital wasn’t available.

    More to point, Crunchbase shows one round of just 250K – not sure if that’s right or not, but have to believe that there are some early investors who didn’t want to get diluted and would rather shut it down than get more hands in the pie?

    It was a pretty good play – the user adoption thing was the biggest barrier – still hard to believe that they have to shut the doors for lack of scratch money when SalesForce paid 50M large for Rypple.


  3. Steve Boese says:

    KD – All good questions, and I suppose we might not ever know. Agree that the solution had a lot to offer and maybe they just could not stretch the runway long enough for the market to catch up. But odd that anyone early would object to new money coming in, if indeed that was the only way to have a shot at turning the corner. Still, unfortunate all around.

  4. Ted Wiss says:

    Sorry to see them go!

    I heard that there were several startups tryimg to do something similar.

    One that my friends told me about was Work Force Growth.

  5. As founder of, I would like to say that WorkSimple was a classy competitor who kept us on our toes, and we wish the team well.

    Yes, social performance management is a bold, disruptive idea, one that the world may not quite have warmed to yet, and user adoption is indeed a challenge. However, things are clearly heading in this direction, so we intend to keep fighting the good fight as a lean startup, and continuing to innovate and shape the workplace of the future.

    Again, thanks to WorkSimple for keeping things interesting, and best of luck to the team.

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