By Heather Somerville
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The former chief executive of human resources software firm Zenefits, Parker Conrad, on Tuesday made public a new startup that will compete with his old company, marking a comeback by the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who left Zenefits under a cloud.
Conrad's new startup, called Rippling, came out of what the tech industry calls "stealth mode" on Tuesday, with a new website that details its services to help companies automate the employee hiring and firing processes.
These include generating new employee offer letters and tax forms, configuring computers, setting up email accounts, providing keycards to an office building, processing payroll and more, according to the firm's website.
Rippling's software subscription service has a free version for businesses, according to the website, while the top-tier product goes for $15 per employee per month.
Many of these services go head-to-head with Zenefits, the company Conrad started in 2013 and resigned from last year after problems surfaced over the company flouting of state insurance regulations.
Conrad did not immediately respond to an interview request.
Zenefits offers human resources software for free to businesses and makes money acting as a health insurance broker, working as the middleman between businesses and insurance providers.
It made a speedy ascent to a $4.5 billion valuation and was hailed by investors one of the fastest-growing software companies in Silicon Valley history. But its fall was equally precipitous, once the company revealed that some staff who sold insurance did not have the proper licenses to do so.
Conrad was replaced by David Sacks, then the company's chief operating officer. Sacks brought Zenefits back into compliance, which included settling a number of state investigations that resulted in hefty fines, and laid off hundreds of employees. The company's valuation tumbled to $2 billion and Sacks resigned in December.
Hints of Conrad's new company emerged last summer, when an online ad said Conrad was looking to hire the first engineer for his new company. Investors said at the time that Conrad was seeking funding for a project similar to Zenefits.
Rippling faces a crowd of competitors that include not only Zenefits but also human-resource software startups Gusto and Namely.
(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Bill Rigby)