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Zenefits launches Z2, aims for corporate turnaround

The once darling unicorn software startup is hoping to re-energize its service (and its brand) with a total platform redesign and a bevy of new services.

The last two years for Zenefits have been somewhat a fall from grace, but the once darling unicorn software startup is hoping to re-energize its service (and its brand) with a total platform redesign and a bevy of new services.

The cloud-based human resource software provider on Tuesday rolled out Z2, a next generation of its platform with features such as HR app directory, revamped iOS and Android apps, a new HR advisor app, and the launch of Zenefits Payroll in California.

"This is the culmination of everything the company has been building for the last three years," said Zenefits CEO David Sacks, who took over as chief executive in February after founder Parker Conrad was booted from the company following a series of shady licensing accusations.

With Z2, Sacks and his team want to sweeten the overall Zenefits package for small businesses with the pitch that its all-in-one platform can relieve many of the pain points surrounding HR, payroll, and benefits.

Z2 brings major redesigns of the employee and admin dashboards and new overview pages for administrators. Zenefits also completely redesigned workflows for hiring and employment termination, which now incorporate connected applications from the Zenefits AppDirectory.

In terms of the new products, the app directory launches with 17 partners providing tools for expenses, performance management, employee engagement, and productivity. The company said the apps offered in the directory connect to information on Zenefits as well as data in key HR workflows, enabling them to gather all the information needed for configuration.

There's also a new HR Advisor app, which includes a library of articles and tools related to hiring, employee compensation, benefits benchmarking, and compliance. The new mobile apps give employees access to an employee directory, benefits information, and pay stubs, as well as the ability to request time off and clock in and out of work on their phones.

In the run up to today's launch, Zenefits has taken several steps avoid future claims that the company has unlicensed brokers selling insurance. In June, Zenefits built software controls into its sales system that automatically verifies licensing status and block accounts from being assigned brokers who do not hold valid insurance licenses in the correct state. The app also helps manage license renewals and prevents brokers from transacting until their renewal is processed.

The company also created the position of chief compliance officer and put together a compliance team for more oversight and accountability.