Shiftgig hires new CEO from LinkedIn

Shiftgig, an on-demand staffing platform, didn't have to look far for a new CEO. Wade Burgess, a LinkedIn veteran, takes over the top job from co-founder Eddie Lou, who becomes executive chairman.

The company, launched in 2012 began as something of a LinkedIn for hourly workers in the bar and restaurant industry. But it found a bigger business in providing on-demand staff for catering, retail and other industries. It now operates in 13 markets.

Burgess, 46, was vice president of LinkedIn's biggest business unit, talent solutions, which enables companies to search for job candidates and communicate with them. He has been working in Chicago since 2014 (according to his LinkedIn profile) but joined LinkedIn in Omaha, Neb., and also spent time in London.

"It's about acceleration," Burgess says of his role at Shiftgig. "There's massive market opportunity. It's about focus, execution and being able to scale. (The company) is really poised for growth."

Burgess sees opportunity in the gig economy. "There's a very obvious change in the relationship between employee and employer. The gig economy is the next version of that. I was looking for the right company. Shiftgig is first and foremost a technology company that happens to be in the talent space."

Shiftgig has raised $59 million and has about 240 employees.

"I've always been a believer that if you want to build a tech company to scale, you need to constantly bring in great people at all levels," said Lou, 46. "We've had a lot of growth. The opportunities ahead are tremendous.

"We have to do two things: build great technology and focus on customers. Two months ago we brought in a new CTO, Rick Bowman who was chief software officer at Morningstar. With Wade, we'll have someone who's got a history of doing great things with customers."

It says a lot about how far Chicago's tech community has evolved that Shiftgig was able find a seasoned executive close to home.

Lou, who had started a tech company during the dot-com boom, was a venture capitalist before launching Shiftgig. He had been thinking about a succession plan for more than a year.
“It takes a rare breed of entrepreneur to grow a business as much as Eddie has but also the self-awareness and courage to say the company has scaled beyond my expertise,” Yagan said.

"It's not just at the CEO level," says Sam Yagan, CEO of ShopRunner and a Shiftgig adviser and investor. "If you look at how many people have operated companies at scale at Groupon, Grubhub, LinkedIn, Orbitz, Cleversafe, Trunk Club, there is a lot of talent. If you need a VP of marketing or head of business development, you can find someone."