By Becky Peterson. This article originally appeared on Business Insider, January 23, 2018.
– Disco, a startup partnered with Evernote cofounder Phil Libin’s young artificial intelligence studio All Turtles, released its product to paying customers Tuesday.
– The product tracks positive language within office chat apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams, and then aggregates the comments into positive feedback reports for employees, managers, and executives looking to get a sense of what is going right on their teams.
– The idea is that positive reinforcement can keep employees happy and improve office culture.
An artificial intelligence startup backed by Evernote cofounder Phil Libin and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wants to automate positive reinforcement.
Disco — one of the first companies to come out the artificial intelligence lab All Turtles, which Libin launched in May— is an employee feedback tool that scans office chat software like Slack and Microsoft Teams for compliments and positive comments.
Those comments are then aggregated into reports that employees can regularly check for positive feedback.
The idea behind it, said CEO Jeremy Vandehey, is that employees work better and harder when they feel that their efforts are recognized by the company.
Vandehey started developing the product in 2015 after working at companies where positive feedback was hard to come by. He believes that Disco can help companies build a culture of positivity, which ultimately will be reflected in the quality of work.
After members of a particular workgroup invite the Disco bot into their group, the bot quietly monitors and collects examples of each individual’s good work. If a company’s values involve prioritizing customers for example, Disco will log each time a staffer says or does something that reflects that they prioritize customers.
“At its core, we’ve simplified the ways you give positive feedback to your coworkers, managers and even you’re executives,” Vandehey said. “It’s basically democratized that whole experience and made it a lot easier to do that every single day, versus once a quarter or even once a year, by being inside of the work stream.”
On Tuesday, Disco opened up its product to paying customers. So far the product has enjoyed a hefty beta mode with 20,000 different companies using it internally, including Spotify, Intuit, Adobe, Slack, and Walmart. Disco will charge companies $4 per employee per month, or $3 per person for month for annual subscriptions.
The platform uses natural language processing and machine learning to create profiles for employees based off of what people have said about them in digital environments.
Employers can issue regular feedback reports to show their workers what they’re doing well, or to keep track of an employee’s strengths for review purposes.
There is one problem though: while Disco has all of the makings of an automated review platform, Vandehey said that there is no mechanism for tracking negative feedback.
“We want to feel good about developing a culture of appreciation before we talk about that,” Vandehey said about a negative comment tracker. “It’s something a lot of our customers ask for because they want to fully replace performance reviews with real time feedback system. But we don’t want to release something like that without really thinking through the consequences of opening up constructive feedback to the masses.”
Investors, so far, don’t seem to mind the positive approach. Disco has raised $2.15 million in seed funding from General Catalyst, Slack Fund, XSeed Capital, Inventus Capital Partners, 500 Startups, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.