Crunchbase Series D

Crunchbase reporting on its funding rounds in Crunchbase Pro.

Funding intelligence vendor Crunchbase closed on a $50 million Series D led by Alignment Growth, with OMERS Ventures, Mayfield, and Emergence Capital also participating.  The oversubscribed round raised total funding to $106.5 million.

“Investors we spoke with echoed the trends we’re seeing in Crunchbase data: We are in the middle of one of the most challenging times for startups to raise,” blogged Crunchbase CEO Jager McConnell.  “So, the fact that we had more firms trying to invest in us than we were even looking for is a huge vote of confidence in our company, brand, and the products we’ve built.”

Jager noted that the firm has moved beyond funding data for PE and VC firms to a broader information platform that supports sales, recruiting, finance, and business development professionals.  I would add Competitive and Market Intelligence professionals to their user list as I regularly use Crunchbase and Owler for deal intelligence.

Crunchbase began as a funding database at TechCrunch but was spun out as an independent organization in 2015 and has evolved into a sales intelligence service.  The Crunchbase Pro offering supports company discovery, qualification, tracking, Salesforce syncing, and engagement (via contact data and email templates) at a low price ($49 per month billed annually).

Crunchbase Pro Build-a-List

“As difficult economic conditions impact more companies, knowing whether a target account is on the upswing or not gives prospectors the power to focus outreach on decision-makers with buying power,” McConnell said.  “Our tools encourage account-based selling, which encourages deal-makers to prioritize their prospecting efforts based on the companies they should be contacting rather than the individuals.  This is the opposite approach to ‘spray and pray,’ which relies on massive contact lists and leads to the kind of spammy outreach that no one likes.”

Recent enhancements include territory filters, diversity flags, machine-learning company recommendations, a Chrome extension, and email alerts for priority accounts, lists, and saved searches.  They also added a contacts database and email templates.

Crunchbase has retained its focus on emerging (funded) companies.  This focus is both an advantage and disadvantage.  Emerging companies are often the fastest growing businesses with expanding needs and fewer incumbent vendors that need to be displaced.  They are also more open to cutting-edge technology, encourage quick decision-making, and are less risk averse.  Conversely, they represent a relatively small percentage of the overall economy, deals are smaller (but with significant upside at renewal), and they are more subject to economic volatility.

Another advantage of focusing on emerging companies is that the leading sales intelligence databases have weak coverage of these firms.  When companies collect or ingest data on global companies of all sizes, they lack the editorial bandwidth to deliver detailed information on emerging companies.  Specialist databases such as Crunchbase offer funding details, acquisition histories, editorially-written business descriptions, and more accurate sizing data.

“The Crunchbase SaaS platform combines rich and proprietary company data with direct access to decision-makers within a single intuitive interface—at compelling price points—making it a powerful tool for driving ROI across a variety of use cases, from sales to recruiting and more,” stated new Crunchbase Board member Alex Iosilevich from Alignment Growth.  “We expect that Crunchbase will continue to gain accelerated industry adoption and are excited to support the company’s growth momentum alongside strong participation from the existing investor group.”

Crunchbase continues to grow its product and data.  It supports 75 million unique annual users and over 60,000 customers.  Furthermore, SaaS products drove a 5x year-over-year increase in new recurring revenue in Q1 2022.

“We took a step back from rapid growth in favor of a more measured, balanced approach,” stated McConnell, who noted that the firm has focused on capital-efficient growth.  The firm dialed back its Burn Multiple from 3 ($3 spent to acquire $1 in new ARR) in 2019 to 0.22 in H1.

“The recent onslaught of down rounds and mass layoffs from companies who very recently hit unicorn status shows how outsized burn rates can be hidden behind oversized funding rounds, covering up the reality of weak business fundamentals,” McConnell said.  “I’m especially proud of the fact that we have been able to generate growth while keeping our burn rate in check.  In the first half of this year, we drove $9 million net new ARR at only $2 million burn — that’s best in class according to Bessemer’s efficiency benchmarks and puts us on the path to profitability…We plan to double our business-to-business software ARR this year, ending around $38 million in ARR just for this customer segment.”

Iosilevech argued that Crunchbase is well-positioned for ongoing growth and does not expect follow-on rounds.  “They’re managing the business in a capital-efficient way so that the capital that they raise will really be the last round they need before a major milestone in the company’s history, whether it’s an IPO or something else.”

Funds will be deployed towards additional headcount and expanding platform functionality, beginning with a HubSpot connector.  The firm is also looking to expand its machine-learning recommendations for sales, expand its data insights, and add usage tracking dashboards “to help customers track efficacy of activities on Crunchbase, along with the number of opportunities and ARR available to them.”

Crunchbase has grown to 220 employees with a remote-first operational model.  It added seventy staff during the first half of the year and is aiming to add another fifty-five employees before year’s end.  It was cash flow positive in Q1.

Crunchbase did not disclose its new valuation figures.

Highspot $248M Series F

Sales Enablement Platform vendor Highspot closed on a $248 million Series F that valued the firm at $3.5 billion, up from its February valuation of $2.3 billion.  The firm, founded in 2012, has raised $648 million to date.  The round was led by B Capital Group and D1 Capital Partners, with Iconiq Growth, Madrona Venture Group, Salesforce Ventures, Sapphire, and Tiger Global Management also participating.

“Technologies that unlock human potential are foundational to our economic future,” said Rashmi Gopinath, General Partner, B Capital.  “Highspot’s undeniable performance, coupled with the enthusiasm of their customer base, is a testament to how transformative their technology is for companies across industries and geographies.  We believe Highspot’s platform is an imperative for businesses aiming to drive sustainable growth.”

Highspot will deploy the funds to hire additional staff and open offices in the EMEA and APAC regions.  The firm, which doubled in size over the past two years to 800 employees, plans to add 500 staff over the next twelve months.  Highspot is based in Seattle, with offices in London, Munich, and Paris.

The pandemic accelerated demand for digital platforms such as Highspot as “road warriors have become home warriors,” said Wahbe.  In addition, the shift from traditional selling to digital required new tools and skills.  “Salespeople have to be better than ever in holding the attention of the customer.”

“Even before the onset of the pandemic, buyers were trending toward self-reliance with a plethora of resources at their fingertips, researching vendors on their own time and relying on salespeople as mere transaction facilitators,” Wahbe told VentureBeat via email. The sudden shift to a remote business landscape caused by COVID-19 accelerated this trend, and now modern buyers prefer — and expect — fully virtual sales … A handful of sales tech companies anticipated the trend toward digital selling and strategically designed their products to help turn salespeople from transaction helpers into heroes. Highspot is one such company.”

Highspot CEO Robert Wahbe, “Highspot raises $248M to bolster sales enablement using AI,” VentureBeat (January 13, 2022)

The firm, which has over 170 open positions, is broadly hiring across engineering, product, design, marketing, and sales.

“We see an incredible opportunity in front of us,” said CEO Robert Wahbe. “We need to continue to invest very significantly and invest in our go-to-market team, invest in our product, and [invest in] the capabilities of our product.”

Last month, Highspot announced a quartet of executive hires:

  • Arvind Prakash, Product Management VP: Prakash is a global product and technology leader with over twenty years of experience at Compass, Expedia Group, and Microsoft.
  • John Zhang, Engineering VP: Zhang held Engineering roles at Microsoft, Twitter and Weibo.
  • Julie Valenti, Account Management VP: Valenti has over twenty years of experience running customer-facing teams at DocuSign, Oracle, Responsys, and Yesmail.
  • Kelly Lewis, Revenue Enablement VP: Lewis joins with over 15 years of experience in revenue leadership and technology sales.  Lewis is a former Highspot customer joining from Amwell.

Highspot supports content recommendations, content engagement analytics, sales training, and sales coaching

The recently launched Highspot Marketplace is a partner exchange for marketing, sales, enablement, and customer success partners.  Companies can import packages of content, tools, and training from two dozen partners, including Sandler, Challenger, and Winning by Design.

Highspot Sales Training Dashboard

Highspot has grown revenue 935% over the last three years and posted an Annual Recurring Revenue net retention rate of 130% over the past year. 

Last year, platform usage increased 150%, with Highspot providing training to eight million salespeople, channel partners, service reps, and customers in digital sales experiences.  Highspot counts DocuSign, General Motors, Nestle, Siemens, and Verizon Media among its 700+ customers.

Wahbe envisions the firm going public but did not set an IPO timeframe. “Our focus continues to be on building a significant company in the enablement space,” said Wahbe. “We’re focused on growing the company, which of course then enables us to go public.”

Cognism $87.5M Series C

London-based Sales Intelligence vendor Cognism closed on an $87.5 million (£64m) Series C.  The round was led by Viking Global Investors and Blue Cloud Ventures, with follow-on investors AXA Venture Partners, Swisscom Ventures, and Volution.

Total funding is just shy of $130 million.

The funds will be deployed for European expansion and strengthening Cognism’s position in the United States.  Growth will be a “combination of organic growth and acquisitions.”

“The funding will help us empower many more businesses with international sales intelligence over the coming years, setting a new standard in data quality and compliance,” explained CEO James Isilay.  “It will accelerate our growth and global expansion plans as the leading provider of intelligent B2B sales data.”

“We will be organically expanding in the United States this year and have just hired new sales leadership (Mark Sparaco) to accelerate our growth,” Isilay told GZ Consulting.  “Europe remains our primary focus, but we see significant differentiation to other providers in our US and International data that we see significant growth opportunities.”

The firm will remain focused on improving its global data coverage and Sales Intelligence capabilities in 2022.  Roadmap features include marketing enhancements and localization in non-English speaking countries.

Cognism is coming off another strong year, with ARR growth hitting 100%.  They have over 1,000 customers, located in over forty countries.

Isilay is targeting another year of 100%+ growth and stated that Cognism is off to a good start in January with a “record revenue month.”

2021 data improvements include Diamond Data and the addition of Bombora’s intent data set as a premium offering.  Diamond data provides “the most accurate, GDPR & CCPA compliant phone-verified contacts for business development teams internationally, setting a new standard in data quality,” boasted the firm.

The Diamonds-on-Demand request feature supports on-demand phone verification from both the web application and the Cognism Chrome extension.  Users click on a Diamond Verify button to initiate the verification process, which is completed within 48 hours.  In addition, users can track the status on the platform.

“No other software company offers a truly global sales intelligence platform like Cognism. “By pairing our premium quality contact data with advanced contextual data points like technographics and buyer intent signals, we help modern revenue teams connect with confidence and exceed targets. We enable them to build a meaningful connection with their next best customer in the most predictable, efficient, and cost-effective way.”

Cognism CEO James Isilay

Cognism has grown to over 250 employees in seven countries: the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, South Africa, Croatia, Macedonia, and Germany.

Cognism did not state its market valuation.

Cognism also announced that it is SOC II Type 2 compliant.  The designation confirms that Cognism meets AICPA’s Trust Services Criteria for Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Processing Integrity, and Privacy with regards to data.

“We live and breathe security and compliance at Cognism as we handle large amounts of company data that help our customers reach new target audiences,” blogged Cognism CTO Stjepan Buljat. “Most companies, when they start their SOC 2 compliance journey, choose to select type 1 qualification, whereas we’ve selected the more complex type 2 route – often described as the difference between a balance sheet audit and a full audit of financial operations.  Type 2 looks at the information security controls we have in action and confirms that we’re organised to handle the data privacy concerns of the largest companies on the planet.”

Cognism Funding History (Source: Owler)

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.