The Startup Playbook Podcast

Insights and lessons from the world's best entrepreneurs and investors

Ep179 – Ben Thompson (Co-founder & CEO – Employment Hero) on growth, PMF & principles

My guest for Ep179 of The Startup Playbook Podcast was Ben Thompson, the Co-founder & CEO of Employment Hero.

Employment hero is one of Australia’s great startup success stories.

The business launched in November 2014 and fast forward almost a decade later, they have 2.5M users and 300,000 SME customers globally and in 2023 they raised a $263M Series F funding round, taking their total funding to $650M at a valuation just shy of $2B.

In this episode we get into many of the insights and lessons from his journey in building a $2B business, but as you may have seen, Ben and Employment Hero have also been in the news recently for their fight with Hostplus, an industry Super Fund that is an LP in Airtree, which is also one of the investors in Employment Hero.

That fight started when Ben called out HostPlus on a LinkedIn post and escalated to the point where HostPlus pushed for Ben to be sacked as CEO of his company.

For the first time since the incident, Ben shares his side of the story on what went down on this podcast.


  • 4:27 Ben’s background and early career
  • 12:33 Decision to launch a tech startup
  • 17:01 Early days at Employment Hero
  • 19:52 Different funding options available for founders
  • 27:13 Managing multiple businesses and competing priorities
  • 30:49 Importance of strong personal relationships as a founder
  • 33:22 Employment Hero global expansion during Covid
  • 37:05 Finding product market fit in different markets when expanding
  • 40:45 How to think about product decisions and requests from different markets
  • 43:57 How the CEO role has evolved over time for Ben
  • 46:07 Finding and hiring the right people at the right time
  • 48:48 Ben’s thoughts on the Hostplus situation
  • 57:20 Staying true to company vision
  • 59:34 What’s next for Employment Hero

Our partners

A big thank you to our partners for the show:


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Links mentioned

Ben’s links

People mentioned

Companies mentioned

Feedback/connect/say hello:

[email protected]
@RohitBhargava7 (Twitter)
/rohbhargava (LinkedIn)
@rohit_bhargava (Instagram)
My Youtube Channel


Music: Paycheck

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Find all of the links for the podcast on Linktree here