Drift the Latest RevTech Unicorn

Drift Founders Elias Torres and David Cancel.

Drift became the latest RevTech unicorn following a strategic equity investment by Vista Equity Partners.  The firm did not disclose the size of the investment nor its valuation, only that the valuation exceeded $1 billion.  Vista will hold a majority stake in Drift when the transaction closes in Q4.

“In partnership with Vista, Drift will continue to invest in its customers’ success while expanding its product leadership, scaling globally and bringing Conversational Commerce to more B2B businesses,” announced the firm.

Vista exclusively invests in enterprise software, data, and technology-enabled businesses.

Cancel told TechCrunch that Drift’s goal wasn’t to create a unicorn but that he and founder Elias Torres are proud to be examples for other Latino entrepreneurs:

“Drift is now part of the less than 1% of #latinx founded companies to ever achieve that milestone [$1B+ valuation].

Elias Torres ⚡️ and I believe we have a responsibility to pay it forward, to inspire other people, who are often marginalized and don’t believe they can break the glass ceiling to know that they too can do it. So today we want our #latinx community to know that together we have taken another step forward in our fight for an equitable future.”

Drift CEO David Cancel

Drift, which offers “conversational commerce for B2B,” has over 50,000 sales and marketing customer teams on its Conversational Sales platform.  Drift integrates chat, email, video, and artificial intelligence to power conversations on the website and with sales reps.

75% of its customers were described as mid-market enterprise clients by Cancel.  Customers include ServiceNow, Okta, Grubhub, Mindbody, Adobe, Ellie May, and Snowflake.

“Over the next decade messaging will continue to eat the world and that in order to survive and compete, enterprise businesses will need to flip the traditional model, remove friction, and put customers first. The businesses that win will be the ones that make it simpler for customers to buy from them…

Our bet is that conversations will transform the entire B2B revenue function, and with a partner like Vista, who has helped to transform and grow companies like Marketo and Wrike in recent years, we are excited for what’s next.”

Drift CEO David Cancel

Drift continues on its hypergrowth path, growing ARR 70% in 2020 with a similar growth trajectory this year. However, the company is not yet profitable as it is focused on growth. 

“Our purpose as a company remains simple and consistent: Build a platform that makes it simpler for customers to buy from you. We have an opportunity to bring learnings from the B2C buyer experience to the enterprise and introduce Conversational Commerce as a new B2B category,” said Drift CEO David Cancel.  “Given its extensive experience investing in next-generation SaaS companies, we believe Vista is the best partner to help Drift – and our customers – further these efforts.  I am excited to work with Vista’s team of investors, operators, and technologists who will help us fulfill our ambitious vision and lead the Conversational Commerce category for decades to come.”

Cancel has his eye on taking the company public, with Vista providing a “clear path” to an IPO.

“As a next-generation SaaS company with a strong leadership team, differentiated platform, and passionate customer base, Drift is uniquely qualified and well-positioned to define and lead this new market of Conversational Commerce,” said Monti Saroya, co-head of the Flagship Fund and senior managing director at Vista. “It is a privilege to partner with talented founders like David and Elias, and we look forward to supporting them and the entire Drift team to help advance their vision to remove the friction from business buying, and in turn, create tremendous value for customers as Drift’s hypergrowth continues to accelerate.”

Boston-based Drift slowed its employment growth rate with the advent of the pandemic but accelerated its hiring in 2021, with an increase of 151 employees since December. In addition, the sales team has grown 33% over the past six months to 136. 

Drift accelerated its headcount growth in 2021 after slowing it at the advent of the pandemic (Source: LinkedIn)

The company appears to have started a consulting organization, growing from 2 to 18 consultants over the past year.  In August, the firm hired Ryan Slinkard as their VP of Professional Services.

RevTech is a field with several minority immigrant founders of unicorns. I have recently also covered Manny Medina (Outreach CEO; Ecuador; $4.4 billion Valuation) and Tope Awotona (Calendly; Nigeria; $3B+ Valuation). Awotona was recently named a board member of SalesLoft, another RevTech unicorn.

6sense Reaches Unicorn Status

6sense Funding Rounds (Source: Crunchbase)

Sales Engagement vendor 6sense closed on a $125 million Series D that valued the firm at $2.1 billion.  The round was led by D1 Capital, with Sapphire Ventures and Tiger Global joining.  Existing investor Insight Partners participated as well.

A few years ago, 6sense described itself as a predictive analytics company.  When the predictive analytics segment failed to gain significant traction, it rebranded as an ABM Orchestration Platform.  The other predictive analytics companies rebranded as CDPs or were acquired for their technology.

Repositioning as an ABM platform proved prescient as 6sense now competes head-to-head with Terminus and Demandbase, two other very successful ABM Platforms.  Terminus closed on a $90 million Series C in February, and Demandbase is also well funded, setting up a market share land grab for ABM Platforms.

6sense has doubled in size each of the past three years, setting the stage for its unicorn round.  Forrester named them a leader in its Q2 2020 Wave Report on ABM Platforms, where 6Sense scored highest on current offering and tied with Terminus on strategy.

“6sense has made significant progress since our first evaluation of this market in 2018 — and now offers a comprehensive solution, matched by an aggressive vision, roadmap, and market approach,” wrote Forrester Principal Analyst Steven Casey.

Customer conversations are a critical part of our due diligence process, and the feedback from 6sense customers is among the best we’ve heard.  Improving revenue results is a goal for every business, but it’s easier said than done. The way 6sense consistently creates value for customers made it clear that they deliver a unique, must-have solution for B2B revenue teams.”

Dan Sundheim, Chief Investment Officer at D1 Capital Partners

6sense will invest the funds in market growth and product development, including its data layer, machine learning-based next best action recommendations, and scaling its “AI-based orchestration capabilities to deliver ideal customer journeys based on data and insights.”

The round comes 15 months after a $40 million Series C led by Insight Partners.  Pitchbook indicates that the firm was valued at only $300 million in January 2020.  6sense is on track for another year of 100% plus growth after inking deals with 100 new customers in Q4.

“We’re doubling down on our investment because we’ve seen the 6sense team consistently execute against their plans for the past year and a half, and we witness firsthand the results the platform delivers every day for our portfolio of high growth companies,” said Jeff Lieberman, Managing Director at Insight Partners. “Being the leader in account-based sales and marketing technology ideally positions 6sense to unlock additional market opportunities, and we’re confident that they have the vision and track record to forge the future of revenue technology.”

CEO Jason Zintak sees a broader vision for the company than SalesTech, MarTech, or AdTech, describing his firm as a RevTech company.

“Our AI is focused on signal, identifying companies that are in the market to buy something,” Zintak told TechCrunch. “Once you have that, you can sell to them.”

RevTech looks to unify the marketing, sales, RevOps, and customer success groups within the revenue team and align them behind selling to the right buyers at the right time.  Firms still struggle with identifying prospects that are the ideal fit, much less properly timing their prospect outreach.

“This is both a data and execution problem. One can’t be untethered from the other,” blogged Zintak.  “I’ve long believed there is a tremendous opportunity to solve this problem and move the sales and marketing technology world away from outdated tools, and usher in a new era of B2B platforms that will fundamentally change the way companies go to market. We’re already seeing account-based tech, sales tech, and legacy marketing tech categories beginning to converge into a massive market that will only continue to grow. I also believe 6sense is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity and deliver the transformation our industry is so hungry for.”

Thus, 6Sense looks to provide the go-to-market platform that delivers a “comprehensive B2B go-to-market with data, insights, and orchestration capabilities at the core.”

6Sense identifies the best-fit accounts and supports prospect timing via intent-based prediction models.  6sense claims that its customers:

  • Raise their average deal size by 35%.
  • Increase their opportunity conversion rate by 20%.
  • Reduce deal-cycle time by 20%.

Zintak argues that the alignment problem is exacerbated by multiple tech stacks with data and functional silos that “optimize” around subsets of the revenue problem.

The MarTech landscape is teeming with micro-solutions for every nagging problem the marketing automation platform vendors aren’t able to solve (or they themselves created). SalesTech is no different. Your CRM wasn’t built to facilitate decision-making; it was built to store records. Add RevOps and customer success teams into the mix, and the people, process, and technology alignment challenges grow exponentially, as more data becomes siloed and disconnected from execution.”

6Sense CEO Jason Zintak

“AI generally is a buzzword, but here it is a key part of the solution, the brand behind the platform,” said Teddie Ward of Insight Partners.  “Instead of having massive funnels, 6sense switches the whole thing around. Catching the right person at the right time and in the right context make sales and marketing more effective.  And the AI piece is what really powers it. It uses signals to construct the buyer journey and tell the salesperson when it is the right time to engage.”

“We invest heavily in sales and marketing technology, and 6sense is truly one-of-a-kind,” said Sapphire Ventures partner Rajeev Dham.  “We’ve always viewed 6sense as a market leader with the ability to execute on their bold vision of transforming sales and marketing with data-driven insights and orchestration capabilities.  6sense is already the leading account-based sales and marketing platform, and they are poised to define and deliver the future of revenue technology that every B2B organization needs.”

HG Insights Equity Round

Technology Intelligence vendor HG Insights closed on an equity round with Riverwood Capital.  Neither the size nor the valuation was disclosed.  

HG Insights employs natural language processing and machine learning to develop account intelligence concerning technology installations, IT budgets, and contract information for eleven million global companies across 14,000 products.

“Our customers have come to rely on HG Insights as an indispensable input into their most strategic decisions such as market sizing, whitespace analysis, and territory planning as well as for fundamental activities including opportunity prioritization and account-based marketing intelligence.  Our rapid growth over the last two years is fueled by the depth and breadth of benefits we provide to B2B technology companies, globally. Riverwood’s investment is a vote of confidence in our future.  It gives us flexibility and access to resources to help accelerate our growth and capitalize on the exciting opportunity before us.”

HG Insights CEO Elizabeth Cholawsky

Riverwood is a Technology-focused growth-equity firm with $3.5 billion in assets under management.  Riverwood says that it offers “a unique combination of operational, strategic, technological, and financial insight to portfolio companies that need both growth capital and expertise in order to scale.”

Riverwood Capital Managing Partner Jeff Parks said, “HG Insights represents a golden opportunity for Riverwood to continue to use our capital and expertise to accelerate the growth of innovative technology companies addressing demonstrated but unmet market needs.  Elizabeth and her team have built an organization poised to disrupt the traditional go-to-market process for companies of virtually any size, and we’re very excited about the potential of this partnership.”

HG Insights just closed on a successful year, reaching its highest annual recurring revenue and profitability.  Employment rose 30% last year, and revenue grew over 35%.  While HG Insights continues to license its firmographics to other vendors, its growth has been focused on direct sales of technographics and analytics to customers.

“Customers continue to reaffirm that HG Insights’ data’s breadth, depth, and coverage accuracy has become an indispensable asset for critical decision making at every level of a technology company,” commented Riverwood Principal Ramesh Venugopal. “HG Insights provides unique, data-driven knowledge giving decision-makers confidence that they are making the right choices.” Jeff Parks and Ramesh Venugopal have joined HG Insight’s Board of Directors

HG Insights Product Line — Missing is the just announced HG Market Intelligence service that provides “actionable market intelligence for every phase of your go-to-market.”

SalesLoft Doubles ARR and Lands a Unicorn Round

Sales Engagement Platform vendor SalesLoft became the latest SalesTech unicorn, following a $100 million equity investment led by Owl Rock Capital. Insight Partners, HarbourVest, and Emergence also joined the round.  The Series E funding raised SalesLoft’s valuation to $1.1 billion, nearly doubling its April 2019 Series D valuation of $600 million.

The funds will be dedicated towards “transforming the sales industry and helping the world’s companies sell more successfully.” SalesLoft will invest in “new vertical markets, AI / ML-driven insights and product innovation, and further international expansion.”

SalesLoft had a successful 2020, setting up the firm for the valuation raise.  While they were doing well before the pandemic, it provided a “tailwind” that accelerated the need for Sales Engagement solutions.

“The effects of Covid have been a tailwind due to the effects of digital selling,” Porter told TechCrunch. “All sellers immediately became remote. But now the genie is out of the bottle and not going back in. It’s meant that inside sales are now all sales. Whether the opportunities are mid-funnel or upgrades or renewals, we are establishing ourselves as the engagement platform of record because it’s all becoming digital and all sellers are finding more success.”

SalesLoft, which had focused on the mid-market, is enjoying significant success selling to enterprise clients, including Google, LinkedIn (also a strategic partner), Cisco, Dell and IBM. Other clients include Cargill, 3M, and Standard & Poor’s.

Last year, SalesLoft doubled recurring revenue and expanded the breadth of its offering.  When SalesLoft went fully work from home last year, it forced them to rely more fully on their platform. “It was an opportunity to immerse ourselves in our own best practices,” blogged Porter. “And since then, our sales cycles have shortened by 40% and we’ve exceeded our growth plans. Many of our customers are experiencing similar results.”

SalesLoft was also named a leader in Sales Engagement in “The Forrester Wave™: Sales Engagement, Q3 2020.”

“Our goal is and always will be to help our customers win.  This year has accelerated the need for revenue teams across all industries to transform through a digital selling strategy. SalesLoft is a crucial technology for sales teams to perform at their highest potential.”

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter

SalesLoft claims to be the only SEP supporting “the three most critical products in digital selling – Cadence for managing customer communications, Conversations for recording calls and meetings, and Deals for managing opportunities.”  SalesLoft helps customers build pipeline, manage active deals, and engage customers across the buyers’ journey.

In 2020, SalesLoft released 140 new features, including 25 additional reports and dashboards.  In December, they added “Coach to Close” functionality and integrated support for Microsoft Dynamics 365.

SalesLoft gave a sneak peek at their 2021 roadmap in December, unveiling two new features: Deal Engagement Scores and Pre-Built Cadence Frameworks.

Deal Engagements Scores employ machine learning to calculate “deal health based on 30+ factors including activity and deal progression data.” They will assist with prioritizing deals in need of attention and improve forecast accuracy “by identifying mismatches between forecast category and deal score.

Pre-built Cadence Frameworks will improve SalesLoft’s time to value by providing a set of templates and cadences across the full lifecycle and various roles (e.g., SDR, AE, CSM).  Inbound frameworks are also supported.  Cadences include a preview with a visual display of the cadence, description, objective, function, and implementation complexity level.  Pre-built cadences offer best practices from SalesLoft and SalesLoft’s partners.

SalesLoft’s product vision is focused on performance across both efficiency and effectiveness and looks to answer three questions:

  1. What is our performance versus plan?  Forecasting for revenue execs
  2. Why are we above or below plan?  Outcome-driven reporting for frontline managers
  3. How can we improve and take action?  Coaching, Workflow, and an AI/ML Recommendation Engine for sellers and frontline managers.

“We know which sales activities lead to the best revenue outcomes,” stated Porter. “Our data science team is bringing insights and best practices into the platform to tee up next best actions and benefit our customers.”

Forecasting and outcome-driven reporting are part of the SalesLoft vision.  Coaching and the Recommendation Engine are areas of continuing development.  SalesLoft is already delivering an “integrated, efficient workflow.”

SalesLoft is moving to quarterly releases.  The next release pack is scheduled for March 15, 2021.

Warmly, Seed Round

Warm leads startup Warmly, (yes, with a comma as when signing a letter), raised a $2.1 million seed round led by NFX.  Y Combinator, Matchstick Ventures, Scribble Ventures, Mike Vernal of Sequoia, and Harry Stebbings’s 20VC also joined.

The new funds will be used to build out their sales team and hire additional engineers to embed machine-learning capabilities into their software.

“We want to end cold outreach altogether because we should be able to show you the shortest-path warm intro into any company you want to sell to, and the number of hops [it] takes to get there,” said Warmly CEO Max Greenwald

Warmly tracks job changes and tracks champions that have decamped to other companies.  They leverage a firm’s CRM to identify relationship strength and identify former users of a firm’s products and services.  Alerts are sent to sales reps when a former user or advocate resurfaces at other organizations.  Warmly also notifies the customer success team when a user or advocate has left.

“We’re going to make customer success teams more powerful than sales teams in generating revenue.  Now that 84% of all b2b sales come from a referral, traditional methods of customer acquisition like outbound sales & marketing are less effective.  Warmly is building the first ever customer network graph, a novel way to leverage customers to drive new sales.”

Warmly, Website

Warmly was founded in early 2020 by three former Googlers (Greenwald, CTO Carina Boo, and Chief Product Officer Val Yermakova) and VP of Engineering Alan Zhao.

“They’ve got this wide-open market.  It’s this fantastic fertile soil [that] they’ve put themselves in,” says NFX managing partner and Warmly board member James Currier.  Currier also emphasized that customer success software is in its early stage of development.

Gong and Chorus Growing Rapidly During Pandemic

Gong, which closed on a $200 million Series D round earlier this month, is in one of the SalesTech segments that has benefited from remote working. Demand for conversational AI tools from vendors like Gong and Chorus that record, transcribe, and analyze meetings and calls accelerated with the pandemic.

“With global sales teams switching to remote work and field sales teams grounded for the foreseeable future, we are seeing substantial demand for Gong’s solution even in a challenging business environment,” said Gong CEO Amit Bendov.

“Gong’s Web site is like a direct view into the subconscious of those hyper-enthusiastic salespeople who make the rest of us nuts but get the job done.  The actual product is AI technology that captures video, phone, email, and face-to-face interactions and extracts insights about people, deals, and market events.  It must work: they just raised a $200 million Series D, bringing total funding to $334 million.  Did I mention their chatbot is a bulldog?”

David Raab, CDP Institute

Carl Eschenbach, a partner at Sequoia Capital, argued that firms benefiting from COVID fall into two classes, those that are enjoying a temporary lift and those that will enjoy long-term benefits due to social and technological shifts.

“There will be less [SIC] field sales reps than ever before.  Said Eschenbach. “People will be working remotely and selling over digital mechanisms like we’re using Zoom.”

While Gong did not disclose their revenue, they said it has trebled over the past year.  Forbes lists their 2019 revenue at $30 million so 2020 revenue should clock in around $90 million.

Gong has over 1,300 customers, including Autodesk, HubSpot, LinkedIn, MuleSoft, Outreach, PayPal, Shopify, Slack, Twilio, Zillow, GE, and Zoominfo.

Over 64,000 sales and support professionals use the Gong platform, up from 45,000 in December.

They recently launched a Deal intelligence module which provides deal pipeline visibility and “deal at risk” alerts to sales reps (see the image at the top of this blog).

Gong Partners include

  • Conference: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, BlueJeans, WebEx, GoToMeeting, JoinMe
  • ­­Sales Engagement: Outreach, SalesLoft, Groove, Xant, FrontSpin
  • CRM: Salesforce, HubSpot
  • Others: Slack, ClearSlide, Clari, Google, Outlook

“We made a bold prediction in 2016 that Gong’s technology would become the most significant innovation for sales since the invention of CRM,” said Bendov.  “The market has proven that prediction was correct.  With global sales teams switching to remote work and field sales teams grounded for the foreseeable future, we are seeing substantial demand for Gong’s solution even in a challenging business environment.  There is a new way to win in sales, and the best sales teams are turning to Gong’s Revenue Intelligence Platform to guide them down that path.”


Last month, Gong competitor Chorus closed on a $45 million Series C. The round was led by Georgian Partners, with participation from Emergence Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Sozo Ventures.  Five-year-old Chorus has raised $85.2 million to date.  Georgian also led the $33 million Series B in December 2018.

The new funds will be deployed for product innovation and expanding its go-to-market team.  CEO Jim Benton said that they would continue to develop their interaction signal capture capabilities, particularly those tied to relationships and driving deals to close.

“The insights provided by conversation intelligence can be a lifeline, identifying risks as well as what is working so that they can replicate best practices across the revenue team,” said Benton.  “Sales floors in the office may be empty, but through the use of conversation intelligence, managers can still walk the floor virtually and offer coaching and a helping hand when needed.”

Chorus records, transcribes, and analyzes business calls.  Transcripts include time-stamped notes and a call summary with risk factors and upsell opportunities.  The Chorus platform helps reps capture and analyze interactions from calls, meetings, and emails.  Chorus looks for keywords and topics such as pricing, competitors, and next steps.

“We want to make sure each person says, ‘I was just watching the call, and here is where we left off,’ or ‘I noticed this theme in your conversation, so let’s get started there.’  We are putting the ‘R’ in customer relationship management.  There is a lot with the ‘customer’ and ‘management’ aspects, but in terms of ‘relationship,’ that does not always make it back into the CRM, and we think it should.”

Chorus.AI CEO Jim Benton

“We are continuing to make sure we are understanding these interactions for teams and leadership to see what works, so they bring their best,” continued Benton.  “You want to make sure you represent the best of your team, give feedback, coaching, have the right messaging and which interactions drive the best close rates–all the science behind what success looks like.”

The firm doubled its headcount to 100 and trebled its revenue in 2019.  Chorus has over 200 customers, including GitLab, Zoom, Adobe, MongoDB, and Qualtrics.  It is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Boston and Tel Aviv.

Chorus Conversational Intelligence records, transcribes, and analyzes audio and video meetings.

Correction: I originally transposed the digits on Chorus’ Total Funding. The correct value is $85.2 million.

Gong Series D

Revenue Intelligence vendor Gong closed on a $200 million Series D, raising its valuation to $2.2 billion.  The firm indicated that it didn’t need the funds as it is still operating with its Series B funds from February 2019 ($40 million).  The $65 million Series C from December is also available, providing the firm with over $265 million in cash for growth and potential acquisitions.  Total funding reached $334 million.

“We weren’t looking to raise another round, but a lot of funds were eager to invest in us,” said Gong CEO Amit Bendov, contending that it is better to raise funds when they are available than when they are needed.

“It gives us the ability to buy companies, make strategic investment, accelerate plans, and it also, especially since we cater to large enterprise customers, gives them confidence that this company is here to stay,” he said.

The additional funds will help the firm “fulfill strong market demand for its Revenue Intelligence Platform, reinforce its market leadership, and invest in its product, engineering, and go-to-market teams.”

While an IPO is in the plans, Bendov sees it two to three years out when revenue hits a few hundred million dollars.  

Potential areas of acquisition include analytics, AI, communications, and other customer-facing technologies.

“Gong is building something that is bigger than CRM. Rather than rely on people to type in information, Gong automatically captures text, Zoom calls, etc., and improves sales forecasting, product, and market strategy, with zero effort.  Ultimately, we are creating a big system.  The product is successful today, but still, more is needed.”

Gong CEO Amit Bendov

In 2021, Gong plans to expand globally.  It has 350 employees with plans to add “hundreds” more over the next year and at least 100 before the end of 2020.  They are looking to expand across finance, human resources, sales, marketing, and IT.  Most of their positions are in the Bay Area, with offices in Atlanta, New York, and Denver.

“A lot of our San Francisco employees wanted to move to Atlanta after we opened our hub there [in March], said Bendov.  “It’s difficult to work from home in San Francisco, where you have five roommates, and you need to do a Zoom call.”

Coatue led the Series D round, with participation from Index Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Salesforce Ventures.  Previous investors NextWorld Capital, Battery Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Wing Venture Capital also participated.


Part II of this blog delves further into Gong’s product offering and how they and competitor Chorus have navigated COVID.

Dun & Bradstreet Files for IPO (Part II)

Yesterday, I began my coverage of Dun & Bradstreet’s IPO filing. Today, I am discussing the restructuring section of their S-1. Dun & Bradstreet was taken private 18 months ago by a group of PE firms that quickly moved to reduce costs and replace management.

The S-1 laid out how the firm has been restructured over the past eighteen months:

“- We immediately reorganized our management and operating infrastructure into vertically aligned business units to increase focus and accountability.

– As a result of this realignment, 18 of the 19 executives, or 95%, and 30 of the 46, or 65%, members of the broader leadership team are new or in a new role, with nearly half of all employees reporting to a new leader.

– Our total employee turnover was approximately 1,500 and our leadership was able to identify and eliminate ineffective headcount resulting in a net employee reduction of approximately 850, or 17% of total employees.

– We will continue to optimize our organizational structure and make targeted hires to build out our team at all levels.”

Dun & Bradstreet S-1

Other changes include

  • Incentivizing long-term contracts in commission plans
  • A focus on tracking and monitoring service metrics
  • “Modernizing our infrastructure and optimizing our architecture to increase control, create efficiencies, and greatly enhance the ability of our platforms to scale,”
  • Expanding their ability to “seamlessly add and integrate new data sets and analytical capabilities into our simplified and scaled technology infrastructure.”
  • Increasing their coverage of SMBs and “incorporating new, alternative data sets to expand the breadth of companies covered and depth of information we are able to provide clients.”
  • Implemented a Data Watch Program which proactively monitors and repairs issues
  • Improved AI capabilities across a broader set of content

According to the S-1, “Enhanced analytics enable us to provide easy to implement end-to-end solutions; by creating configurable, rather than customizable, analytics solutions, we believe that we can increase the adoption of solutions by our clients and expand the size of our client base.”

The reorganization and other changes have resulted in a $206 million annualized run rate savings as of March 31, 2020.

“DNB has been reconstituted into presumably more efficient and responsible operating units,” stated Donovan Jones of IPO Edge.  “The problems with the IPO are that it is too early to tell if the reorganization is delivering better results than the previous structure and the firm is heavier with debt.”


Part III of my coverage publishes on Monday with a discussion of their restructuring.

Flash: Groove Series A

Sales Engagement vendor Groove secured $12 million in Series A Funding.  The round was led by Level Equity and Capital One Ventures, who joined existing investors Uncork Capital and Quest Venture Partners.  The round brought total investment to $16 million.  Groove has roughly doubled its revenue each year, reinvesting its income into product and engineering.  The San Francisco-based firm was founded in 2014.

The new funds will be deployed to “drive greater awareness of our unique market position and competitive differentiation. Sales engagement platforms consistently rank as the number one most impactful sales technology investment that a company can make, and we are poised to lead the category’s expansion with a broad range of capabilities beyond the prospecting use case.”

“Groove has grown 103% year over year on average in a largely organic way and has invested deeply in product and engineering up until this point.  This funding round enables us to drive greater awareness of our unique market position and competitive differentiation. Sales engagement platforms consistently rank as the number one most impactful sales technology investment that a company can make, and we are poised to lead the category’s expansion with a broad range of capabilities beyond the prospecting use case.”

Groove CEO Chris Rothstein

Rothstein is a former Google sales manager who co-founded Groove to address the sales problems that his reps faced at Google.  Rothstein then signed Google as Groove’s first client.

“We believe that sales engagement will become a multi-billion-dollar market,” said Craig Rosenberg, chief analyst of TOPO Research.  “Until now, the sales engagement market has been concentrated in the tech industry and focused on the prospecting use case.  Other industries don’t have sales development teams dedicated solely to prospecting, but they do have thousands of sales reps trying to engage with their customers.  Successful expansion into account executives will open the enterprise market for these platforms.  We are seeing this trend accelerate post-COVID-19 as companies that have been slower to adopt remote working technologies are forced to embrace digital transformation.”

Groove describes itself as “the only sales engagement platform optimized to meet the customization and security requirements of enterprise revenue teams.”  While most Sales Engagement Platforms initially focused on the Sales Development Rep (SDR) and later expanded into other roles, Groove was built to increase productivity for Account Executives with an emphasis on “ease-of-use, advanced activity capture, and cross-team collaboration.”  Operations managers can configure the Groove platform “to meet the complex requirements of different divisions and organizations within an enterprise.”  The firm also touts its unique architecture that “ensures the highest levels of security and compliance.”

Another difference between Groove and other SEPs is its data architecture.  Other firms maintain a standalone database and sync it with Salesforce, but Groove leverages Salesforce as the system of record and runs as a managed package within SFDC.  Employing Salesforce as their system of record allows Groove to manage custom objects, deliver zero-latency data display and reporting, and reduce administrative work.  All fields are updated in real-time.  Groove emphasizes that this architecture allows firms to quickly “onboard new hires into a proven system,” which supports “deployments of any size.”

Core features include

  • Flows (i.e. cadences), including phone, email, SMS, Sendoso (swag), and LinkedIn SNAP (Connect and Send InMail) steps
  • Email templates that pull dynamic variables from all Salesforce fields.  Reps may personalize emails with the platform calculating personalization percent.
  • Email event capture, including reply, bounce, complete, import, open, and meeting booked.  Branching logic supports task creation, linked flows, stop flow, and stop all flows across the account.
  • A/B testing
  • An integrated click dialer supports local presence, call outcome logging, voicemail drops, call recording, and international dialing.  The click dialer is available within Gmail, Microsoft 365, Salesforce, Groove, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  
  • Call coaching features, including whisper, join, and listen
  • Inbound calls support a popup with reverse call lookup.  Calls are routed to either a softphone or a mobile device.
  • Editable, customizable account lists which update Salesforce
  • Activity capture, including custom fields and objects.  Firms can track the type of meeting, type of interaction, primary topic, and meeting outcome, helping managers understand “how much time they’re spending on demos versus support calls, or how many emails are cold prospecting emails versus answering questions about pricing.”
  • Analytics include activity reporting, account-based engagement levels, the best time of day and week for calling, and template performance.
  • A native meeting scheduler, which supports round-robin scheduling, calendar view links, and the option to offer specific times in emails.  The scheduler supports custom field display based upon the type of meeting.
  • A Chrome extension that works alongside Gmail, Microsoft 365, and Salesforce.  The sidebar is customized by role and allows users to click to related objects and search on all activities.
  • Out of Office capture with Flow pause
  • GDPR and CCPA compliance

Workspaces are a unique feature that allow users to build custom reports with flexible report selects and custom fields.  Workspaces may be shared with colleagues and support task assignments.  Groove describes the functionality as a dynamic worksheet with Salesforce data.

Groove Workspaces are configurable, top-down worksheets that support distributed reps and account managers. Users may view engagement by account, division, or individual.

Because it is native to Salesforce, Groove can integrate with over 7.5 million applications via the Salesforce AppExchange.  Additional direct partners include LinkedIn, Sendoso, Gong, Chorus, Vidyard, and HighSpot.

At some customers, Groove is deployed alongside Outreach, with Groove supporting Account Execs, Customer Success, and Business Development and Outreach deployed for SDRs.

Groove supports all revenue and customer success functions.

For a Series A funded Sales Engagement Platform, Groove provides a deep set of functionality and configurability; however, there are a few gaps.  While the service offers many of the key partners supported by other vendors, integrations are primarily available through the Salesforce AppExchange.  Groove does not provide any sales intelligence partners for lead generation or data enrichment.  A power dialer for SDRs and a mobile app are also missing, though their platform is mobile responsive.  Finally, Groove does not support AI-driven lead prioritization or next best actions, but it does have other AI-based capabilities.

Groove caught the attention of Capital One Ventures after it was successfully rolled out to Capital One field sales reps “while providing sales leadership with real-time visibility into their daily sales activities and performance.”  Other business lines subsequently adopted the platform as a result of its initial success.

“When evaluating Groove as an investment, we felt that the company was poised to be the clear category winner.  The sales engagement space is thriving right now, and Groove’s focus on supporting sophisticated AE use-cases and complex enterprise environments is setting them apart from the rest of the pack.  As enterprises in new industries continue to adopt sales engagement platforms to make their revenue teams more productive, they will quickly see the unique advantages that Groove offers in terms of internal adoption, customization, and security.”

George McCulloch, Co-CEO, Level Equity

Groove has over 450 clients, including Google, Uber, Capital One, Atlassian, BBVA, and Veola Water.  Over 50,000 sales, marketing, and customer success professionals use the Groove platform, with the average installation supporting 88 users.  Core segments include Internet Services and Software, Financial Services, Education, Media, Manufacturing, and Professional Services.  17% of Groove’s revenue is derived from international clients.

Pricing is on a per-seat basis and runs $110 per user for all applications.  Clients may also purchase seats by function with a subset of features at a lower per-seat price.

Groove was also one of 395 companies to make Inc.’s Top Places to Work list.  The firm scored 100% on employee engagement. Groove also made the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, ranking #407.

“While Groove is in the business of helping sales and customer-facing teams drive more revenue, productivity, and customer satisfaction, we are equally committed to fostering a culture where employees feel supported, challenged, and fulfilled,“ said CEO Chris Rothstein.

Groove continues to list over twenty open jobs across product development, engineering, sales, and customer support.

6Sense Round C

Account Based Orchestration platform 6Sense closed a $40 million Series C round with growth equity firm Insight Partners, raising its total funding to $105 million.  Previous investors include Salesforce Ventures, Venrock, Battery Ventures, and Bain Capital Ventures.  The market cap was not disclosed.

6Sense doubled its revenue in both 2018 and 2019.  Last year, it added Box, Cisco, Dell, Zendesk, Sumo Logic, NetApp, Domo, Motorola, Cumulus, Symantec, and Tableau to its list of named customers.

“As a startup, a company can sell via personal relationships and word of mouth.  In the scaleup growth phase, the equivalent is Account-Based Marketing and Sales,” said Jeff Lieberman, Managing Director at Insight Partners.  “After an exhaustive review process, we were blown away by the data-focused sophistication of 6sense’s technology and firmly believe it is the best solution for B2B companies who need to scale their go-to-market efficiency and grow revenue.  The company’s account-based solution should be a core part of every scaleup company’s growth strategy.  We’re excited to invest in 6sense as the market-leading solution.”

“An investment is a sign that we’ve done something over the past 2 ½ years,” said 6Sense CEO Jason Zintak.  “Investing is confidence, and it’s just so incredibly humbling that we as a team, as a company, have gotten to the point where people want to trust us and hand over money.”

Zintak attributed the firm’s success to the belief that AI and Big Data are at the core of the MarTech stack:

Our strategy has always been to lead in those areas, specifically 6sense’s ability to

    – Process large amounts of data and deliver actionable insights
   – Segment micro-audiences based on these data insights
   – Uncover anonymous buyer intent and identify accounts
   – Predict which accounts are an Ideal Customer fit, and when they are “in market,” allowing organizations to focus engagement on accounts most likely to buy

6sense has evolved from delivering predictive scores to providing customers with a robust Account-Based platform for the entire revenue operations team.

6Sense CEO Jason Zintak

The investment will be dedicated to accelerating its product roadmap, “both organically and inorganically.”  Zintak listed three roadmap objectives:

  1. Improved orchestration, which moves from rules-based engagement to “true AI-based orchestration of tactics.”
  2. Expanding intent and predictive data use cases beyond email to include website personalization, content experiences, advertising, conversational marketing, etc.
  3. Delivering insights to all revenue operations functions, including marketing and customer success.

The firm lists 37 open positions across customer success, engineering, data science, administrative, marketing, sales, and product.  6Sense has shown steady employment growth over the past two years.  Roughly half of the employees are in revenue generation roles (Sales, Support, Marketing, and Business Development).

“Our mission is to tackle the biggest challenges facing B2B sellers and marketers by helping brands reach the right accounts for their business at the right time, through the right channels, and with truly engaging experiences,” said Zintak.  “Our company growth has been fueled by the success of our customers, and our Series C funding will enable 6sense to further invest in AI-driven orchestration capabilities to help companies of all sizes build and scale account-based programs, uncover new opportunities, and efficiently create pipeline and revenue.”

6Sense competitors include Everstring, Demandbase, LeadSpace, and Lattice Engines (Dun & Bradstreet).