SMB cloud payroll services mature

Summary:Fueled with a recent $20 million infusion, ZenPayroll is adding support for charitable donations. Meanwhile, another player, Justworks, is integrating with 401(k) plans.

Payroll services have long existed for large businesses, but it wasn't until the mainstreaming of software as a service (SaaS) that they really became a cost-effective option for small businesses to automate paychecks and all the related tax administration.

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After less than two years in public view, ZenPayroll is now processing $600 million in annual payroll. It raised $20 million in Series A funding back in December (it disclosed the round in February) which it is using to build out application programming interfaces (APIs), and to increase the number of states that it covers. It's in just eight states right now; next up are Nevada, Arizona, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia and Oregon.

ZenPayroll offers the official data connections you would expect, such as with cloud accounting services including QuickBooks, Xero and Freshbooks, and with time-tracking applications such as TSheets.

One of its more intriguing integrations, however, is a brand-new one with HandUp, a platform for supporting homeless individuals. This is part of the ZenPayroll Giving service, which lets employees contribute a percentage or fixed amount of their salary to specific charities on a one-time or recurring basis. The service also supports FirstGiving.

"Payroll systems should be about the employee. Our mission should be to help employees send their money where they want," said Josh Reeves, CEO and co-founder of ZenPayroll.

The company's total funding so far is $26.1 million, from investors including General Catalyst Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures and Salesforce; and the CEOs of Yelp, Box, Dropbox, and Yammer.

Pricing starts at $25 per company per month, plus $4 per employee per month for the first 10 staffers and $2 per person per month beyond that. 

The same spirit of serving employees is behind a new service being offered by another small-business payroll service provider, Justworks. The new Justworks 401(k) feature enables businesses using the Premium plan to let their employees save through a 401(k) account, such as fund managed by Vanguard or Fidelity. The integration is made possible through a partnership with Slavic401k, which can help businesses set up the plans initially.

"We always talk about helping the small-business owners — Main St. over Wall St. — yet it's still unbelievably difficult for entrepreneurs to do things the right way," said Justworks CEO Isaac Oates in a statement. "At Justworks, we're here to make it easy for entrepreneurs who have great ideas to remove the red tape and make compliance simple."

The Premier plan is priced at $75 per employee per month. 


Topics: SMBs, Cloud


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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