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.

Introhive Series C

Relationship Intelligence platform Introhive closed on a $100 million Series C.  The round was led by PSG, with Bank of America Securities joining.  Existing investors The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Aegis Group Partners, Evergreen Coast Capital, and Mavan Capital Partners also participated.

Introhive will be deploying the funds for strategic acquisitions, expanding its global footprint, and growing its engineering, sales, and marketing teams.

“At the moment, our primary goal is to grow as fast as we can possibly grow,” said Global VP of Sales Adam Draper.  “And we don’t want pure organic growth to be the limiting factor.  So with this amount of money, it just gives us the option (to buy) companies that maybe did well in a certain vertical but couldn’t expand beyond that…or maybe had some sales hiccups, or whatever.”

Introhive, based in Fredericton (New Brunswick) and Miami, anticipates growing from 300 employees to 400 over the next year.

“For us, (the raise) is about continuing to evolve our platform, innovating on technology, staying ahead of our competitive product roadmap, and ensuring the success of our employees,” said Draper.

Introhive Funding History (Source: Owler)

The round follows a strong 2020 during which Introhive claims to have doubled its revenue to over $20 million.  It is projecting $100 million by the end of 2023, said Draper. 

During the pandemic, Introhive refined its sales processes and workflows.

“We really focused in 2020 on scaling what I call the operational, the core parts,” said Draper. “Anytime you’re scaling, especially in my world, from a sales perspective, it’s easy to put the sales bodies in place, but you have to have the infrastructure to support that.  And so we put a lot of time into process workflow, our tech stack, but also our strategy.”

“Our internal compass focuses on the 3 R’s – revenue, retention, and relationships – as the key ingredients to a successful and thriving business,” said Introhive CEO Jody Glidden. “Whether a company is trying to reduce customer or employee churn, make their revenue generating teams more effective or leverage the numerous untapped connections of ‘who knows who’ that exist in their company, Introhive is creating raving fans.”

“Businesses of all sizes are looking for better ways to leverage relationships and drive revenue, and we believe Introhive has built a unique and innovative set of capabilities that allows them to do this more effectively.  In our view, Jody and Stewart (Walchli, CRO) have built a world-class product and management team, and the business is well-positioned for its next phase of growth. We couldn’t be happier to join them on their journey.”

Rick Essex, Managing Director at PSG and New Introhive Board Member

Introhive looks to address the high failure rate of CRM projects by mapping relationship data and identifying opportunities.  Introhive claims to save its customers $68,400 per employee on lost productivity and automating manual work.

Introhive boosts CRM adoption through automated contact data enrichment and uploads.  It claims to uncover 350 additional contacts per user.  “The AI engine then maps these contacts to identify relationships across prospects and customer accounts.”  By reducing research and data maintenance overhead, sales and business professionals can focus their activities on prospects and clients, driving customer satisfaction and the bottom line.

Last year, Introhive processed more than one trillion transactions, captured 60+ million contacts and relationships, saved nine million employee hours, and supported users across 90 countries.

“Great salespeople are most valuable when they’re building relationships — and business — with customers,” commented Nicole France, Principal Analyst at Constellation Research.  “By intelligently capturing data insights, technologies like Introhive increase the quality and timeliness of the data and help salespeople prioritize their efforts where it matters most. Sellers can focus more of their time on the insights generated from relationship intelligence and putting it to use. As a result, sales and account teams understand the needs of their customers and prospects better than ever before, resulting in more upsells, shorter lead times, and more revenue.”

Introhive has benefited from using its application.  “I think using Introhive at Introhive has always been one of the reasons that we’ve grown so fast,” said Draper.  “I remember in the early days, when we couldn’t get leads, we used our software to tap into the networks of our highly connected investors and advisors to create introductions and get some of those first sales.”

Introhive has ten offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Middle East, and Asia.

Introhive did not disclose its market cap.

Introhive Relationship Mapping

Slintel Series A

Intent-powered Sales Intelligence vendor Slintel closed on a $20 million round A led by GGV, with participation from Accel, Sequoia, and Stellaris.  The Bengaluru-based company is looking to expand its presence in the US market and strengthen its product.  Slintel, with 100 employees, plans to double its headcount by the end of the year.

The company still has cash from its $4.2 million November seed round but felt it prudent to proceed with an A round earlier than planned.

“We had enough cash in the bank, but investors came to us, and we got a pretty good valuation compared to the previous round, so we decided to take it and use that money to go faster,” said CEO Deepak Anchala.

Revenue grew 5X last year and was on pace to grow 3X before the Series A.  Anchala contends that the growth rate will accelerate with the additional capital.  “With the funding, we’re actually looking at much bigger numbers. We’re looking at 5x in our revenue this year and also trying for 4x revenue next year.”

“Slintel has one of the best go-to-market engines that we’ve seen in any startup, and the consistency with which the team has been able to deliver on their growth targets is commendable.  We’re looking at a company that’s changing the marketing and sales intelligence sphere as we know it, and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of their board,” said Prayank Swaroop, Partner at Accel.

Anchala told TechCrunch that since the round closed six weeks ago, the firm increased its investment in product and marketing.  The advertising budget was increased, with the firm looking to generate prospects via SEO, free tools on the company website, and events.

“The next big wave in the enterprise space is (the) use of AI to rethink processes, and all AI at its core requires data.  I am, therefore, bullish on the entire data stack, including data which is either proprietary or inferred data that is not easy to replicate. Slintel is in the second category. Their ability to predict strong prospects is a relatively unique capability, and it is very easy to sell due to a direct correlation to (the) top line for their customers.”

Alok Goyal, Partner at Stellaris Venture Partners

The Slintel platform delivers technographic and company insights, buying propensity scores, contacts, and lead enrichment.  Slintel identifies thematic intent signals (i.e., sales triggers) such as upcoming contract renewals, companies that show signs of buying their products online, or companies that use their competitors’ products.  Slintel captures hard to detect signals from the web, combines this with other third-party intent signals from its partners, and surfaces these insights via integrations with Salesforce, Pipedrive, HubSpot, Slack and Chrome. 

“Our customers no longer waste precious time and effort reaching out to and targeting the wrong prospects,” blogged Anchala.  “They are able to accurately determine who their high-intent buyers are, whether a target account is already using their competitor’s product / service, when the renewal date for a prospect’s current solution is coming up, or the budget restrictions that they have.  All this and more, even before scheduling a discovery call with them.”

Slintel “mines buyer insights,” said Anchala.  “We understand where the buyers are in their journey, what their pain points are, what products they use, what they need, and when they need it. So we understand all of this to create a 360-degree view of the buyer that you provide these insights to sales and marketing teams to help them sell better.”

Technology intent is based upon digital footprint tracking that analyzes when new technologies have been adopted or dropped.  Technographics span 25,000 technologies across fifteen million companies and are updated weekly.  AI models project when contracts come up for renewal, which technologies are likely to be purchased next, and when they will move forward with the purchase.

Thematic intent is based on keyword analysis that suggests company pain points.  Slintel “analyzes how many times companies have been talking about a certain keyword [and] how frequently and recently they have been emitting this pain point.”

Propensity-to-buy scores are derived from over twenty-five variables, including contract renewal dates, technology adoption/churn, keyword Intent, budgetary spending, and hiring trends.

“We have taken a contrarian approach by focusing on the buyer funnel, which is an inverse of the sales funnel,” said Anchala.  “We analyze buyer journeys and buying patterns of companies to capture early signals of buyer intent.”

“While most other data intelligence platforms provide insights based on search patterns, Slintel’s proprietary algorithm provides prospect recommendations based on technographics-powered buying intent,” states the firm.  “Using Slintel, you can predict who’s about to purchase your product and market or sell your product to prospects even before they move on to the research phase of their buying journey.”

Slintel has employees across ten cities in India and the US, with plans to remain a remote-first organization.

Slintel has been growing headcount rapidly over the past two years (Source: LinkedIn).

Slintel also announced that Hans Tung, Managing Partner at GGV Capital, joined their Board of Directors.

“With the global pandemic completely changing the way companies operate, B2B transactions have gone more digital than ever before,” stated Tung.  “Inside sales teams are closing high-value, multi-million-dollar deals while working remotely, and products like Slintel are enabling companies to do this by helping them reimagine their entire sales process for today’s environment.”

Qualified Series B

Qualified closed on a $51M Series B which raised total funding to $68M (Source: Crunchbase).

Conversational Marketing Platform Qualified closed on a $51 million Series B round.  Salesforce Ventures led the round, with existing partners Redpoint Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners also joining.  Qualified has received $68 million in total funding.  It is “the only conversational sales and marketing platform purpose-built for Salesforce Sales Cloud,” stated the firm.

Qualified’s Salesforce roots “go deep.”  Along with the Salesforce Ventures funding, Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin joined Qualified as a board observer, and former Salesforce SVP Dan Darcy joined as their Chief Customer Officer.  Multiple execs are former Salesforce employees including CEO Kraig Swensrud who worked on the development of Chatter and served as the firm’s CMO.

“Qualified represents an entirely new way for B2B companies to engage buyers,” said Bill Patterson, Salesforce EVP of CRM Applications.  “When marketing and inbound sales teams use this solution with Sales Cloud…they see a notable impact on pipeline. We are thrilled about our growing partnership with Qualified and their success within the Salesforce ecosystem.”

Qualified will deploy the funds to “fuel product innovation;” build out key functions including engineering, sales, marketing, and customer success; and more than double its headcount before the end of the year.

“Conversational sales and marketing is no longer a ‘nice to have.’ It’s mission critical for fast-growing businesses, and table stakes for modern buyers.  The world’s top CMOs and demand gen leaders are turning to Qualified as a new way to meet with their most important buyers the moment they arrive on the website.  There’s no better partner than Salesforce Ventures to help us accelerate Qualified’s growth and bring this solution to Salesforce customers around the world.”

Qualified CEO Kraig Swensrud

Qualified addresses a “multi-billion problem for enterprise marketing and sales teams,” their inability to identify qualified buyers and message to them while they are on the website.  Thus, the $6 billion spent driving buyers to company websites is poorly converted into sales pipelines.

“In enterprise sales, speed matters: Waiting even five minutes after a lead leaves a website decreases the chances of making contact by 10x,” wrote the firm.  “However, it takes salespeople 38 hours on average to respond to qualified leads.  Studies show that 78% of B2B customers buy from the company that responds to them first.”

Qualified offers real-time visitor intelligence and routing based upon Salesforce.  Visitors may interact with chatbots or talk to reps via chat, voice, and screen sharing.  The service promises 99.9% uptime, GDPR compliance, SOC2 compliance, and Salesforce ISV certification.

“The conversational model is simply a better way to connect with new customers.  Buyers love the real-time engagement, sellers love the instant connections, and marketers have the confidence that every dollar spent on demand generation is maximized,” said Board Member Scott Beechuk.  “The multi-billion-dollar market for Salesforce automation software is going to adopt this new model, and Qualified is perfectly positioned to capture that demand.  If your company uses Salesforce, Qualified will be a multiplier on your sales and marketing investment.”

Qualified saves conversations to Salesforce, including a complete visual recording of the timeline, chat transcript, and screen recording.

Last year, Qualified grew revenue by 800% and posted a 175% customer revenue retention rate.  New customers include Adobe, Matterport, Poly, Sodexo, SurveyMonkey, Talend, Tech Data, and VMware.

According to LinkedIn, Qualified grew its headcount by 92% last year.

Conversational Marketing is hot, but the market is shifting from standalone chat to chat as a front-end to ABX Platforms. ZoomInfo acquired Insent last week and rebranded it ZoomInfo Chat, Drift expanded its product vision into Revenue Acceleration with additional channels, and Terminus acquired Ramble and integrated it into its ABX Platform.

Qualified Conversational Marketing Dashboard.

Outreach Closes $200M Round

Sales Engagement Platform vendor Outreach closed on a $200 million financing round that values the firm at $4.4 billion and brings total funding to $489 million.  The round trebled its market cap over the past year.

Premji Invest and STEADFAST Capital Ventures led the round.  Other new investors include Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Vista Public Strategies, and one of the largest U.S. asset managers based on the West Coast.  Existing Outreach investors, including Salesforce Ventures, Lone Pine Capital, Sands Capital, Mayfield Fund, DFJ Growth, and Trinity Ventures, also participated in the round.

Outreach continued its rapid growth during the pandemic, with B2B firms looking to operationalize their sales outreach, improve remote coaching, refine forecasts, and monitor sales activities and engagement. 

The firm more than doubled Q1 ARR year-over-year and has signed 18 of the top 24 fastest-growing public software companies.  ARR is around $125 million, according to Nathan Latka.  LinkedIn shows them adding sixty employees a month over the past three months.

Outreach has grown to more than 871 global employees, with recently opened offices in Prague and London.  The firm is based in Seattle and has a San Francisco office.

Data Collected by Nathan Latka based on a June 1, 2021, interview of Manny Medina.

At their Unleash user conference last month, they released their real-time conversational intelligence platform Outreach Kaia along with Outreach Insights, their buyer emotive signals and sentiment service.

Outreach Success Plans, which is currently in beta, was also unveiled at Unleash.  Success Plans align buyers and sellers to improve action and predictability.  They act as a buying hub that allows buyers and sellers to agree on shared success criteria, objectives, and timelines.  Success Plans also support shared access to project resources, allowing new demand unit members to quickly access project documents.

“This past year represents a true moment of maturity for Outreach – we are now a mission-critical part of the revenue tech stack for customers. The bets we made years ago, including significant investments in artificial intelligence combined with prospecting, closing, and customer success capabilities integrated into one holistic platform, are what revenue organizations need most right now to be successful. We continue to lead and expand the vision for sales engagement. Now, we are poised to deliver more meaningful business outcomes for our customers than ever before – from the rep to the CRO and from small businesses to the enterprise.”

Outreach CEO Manny Medina

Outreach will deploy the additional funds to expand its sales and marketing functions to meet “the growing demand” for its Sales Engagement Platform.  Funds will also be used to build, acquire, and deliver “new revolutionary technologies.”  Finally, the funds will support expansion plans and new market investments.

“Over the past five years as I’ve served on the board, Outreach emerged as a definitive standard for sales and customer engagement – proven by thousands of companies that use Outreach every day as a critical component of their workflow and their tech stack,” said Karan Mehandru, Managing Director of STEADFAST and Outreach board member. “Companies across every industry are reaccelerating growth and hiring post-pandemic and embracing intelligent automation to power their revenue teams.”

Mehandru told Bloomberg that he expects to see multiple sales software startups succeed with “multiple winners in the category.”  Mehandru likened Outreach to a modern-day Salesforce.

“If (Salesforce CEO) Benioff were to start a sales company today, it would look a lot more like Outreach,” stated Mehandru. Mehandru did not forecast when an IPO would take place but said, “We do think going public is an important event in the company’s cycle.”

Manny Medina LinkedIn Post (June 2, 2021)

Cyance Funding Round (Part II)

Cyance Account-level Intent Insights for first and third-party intent.

(Continued from yesterday’s article)

Cyance’s intent signals are gathered from 55,000 publisher sites and capture 24 billion monthly events.  Six months of trend data are analyzed. Cyance intent monitoring supports six languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch, with additional languages planned.  Roughly 40% of signals are gathered from Europe, 40% North America, and 15% AsiaPac.

Cyance already tracks 140,000 intent keywords and allows new custom keywords to be defined for each customer.  Keywords are then mapped to custom topics which reflect each customer’s products, services, and value proposition.  Custom keyword tracking allows for greater granularity and transparency in their intent data and enables the accurate identification of intent signals and custom topics.  Additional global, unified taxonomies are scheduled for a Q3 release.

Our proprietary, highly accurate intent data and ABX platform means our customers’ sales teams have more targeted insights based on the most accurate, geographical data possible at their fingertips.  In this way, we enable better conversions throughout each stage of the sales funnel, as well as helping them to retain and grow their existing accounts. For large organisations seeking to successfully identify and close new clients, having the right data is crucial.  Other intent data providers on the market today simply aren’t capable of providing sales teams a fully customisable view into what their prospects and clients are searching for in large-scale enterprise IT solutions.  At Cyance, we fill the gap in the market for European buyers seeking regional intent data that provides highly accurate, GDPR compliant insights into user intent.”

Cyance CEO Bulent Osman

Cyance has firmographic information for 100 million companies and locations (along with linkage for rolling up intent) and intent signals for 40 to 50 million global companies.  Firmographic information is supplemented by technographics and GDPR-compliant contact data licensed from a well-regarded European vendor.

Cyance supports both FIT (Firmographic, Intent, and Technographic) and TCR (Timing, Context, and Relevance) models.  FIT models combine an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) with behavioral account scores that trend intent over time, looking for spikes in activity.  To simplify intent data for sales reps, they employ a semaphore (colored light) display system. 

TCR analyzes Timing, Context, and Relevance in determining intent:

  • Timing looks at the buying stage of the intent behavior to help improve the prioritization of accounts subject to customer/prospect strategy mode (e.g., acquisition, retention, or expansion).  Cyance weights intent signals that are mapped to a buying stage.
  • Context combines buying stage with the best-fit personae most likely behind the research at each buying stage.
  • Relevance maps all intent signals to customer topics (customer products or value propositions).  This makes it easier for customer teams to translate behavior into best-fit product and content alignment.

TCR maps intent signals to buyer stage (early, mid, late) and value proposition, enabling acquisition and expansion intent to be treated differently than retention intent.  Acquisition and expansion look at current activity vs. baseline for early buyer stage, while retention looks for mid-to-late research signals, indicating an existing customer may be researching competitive solutions. 

Cyance supports integrations with Salesforce, Drift, and HubSpot, with Outreach and Marketo coming soon.  For programmatic, Cyance offers integrations with LinkedIn Campaign Manager, LiveRamp, Avocet, and theTradeDesk.

Cyance’s primary customers are in technology and financial services.  85% of its revenue is generated in Europe and 15% in North America.

Cyance does not disclose its pricing but bases it on the geography licensed and the product tier. Cyance is headquartered in the UK, with remote sales reps on the continent

Cyance Funding Round

Cyance list of accounts with spiking intent.

European third-party intent data vendor Cyance closed on an £860,000 funding round that included existing investors Blackfinch Ventures and Nexus Investments.  The funds will be deployed for ongoing product and market expansion, including enterprise customer expansion in Europe and ABX platform development.

Last year, the firm doubled its headcount, grew revenue by 18%, and raised ACV by 30%.  It also shifted from being an intent data vendor to an ABX platform.  As with many other MarTech vendors, revenue flattened in Q2 of last year and began growing again in the second half of the year.  They have built significant momentum in 2021 and are on pace to nearly double ARR this year.

“The fact that we’ve seen such solid commercial and financial performance over the past 12 months, despite the tough market conditions, demonstrates the appetite for accurate and localised intent data and the enormous potential within this market.  And as businesses start to look beyond the pandemic and the economic recovery gathers pace, we expect demand to increase further.  Taking on this new investment allows us to strengthen our team and further invest in our product.  We’re now perfectly placed to take advantage of these new opportunities and cement our position as the leading ABX platform with unique intent data for European buyers.”

Cyance CEO Bulent Osman

According to CPO Jon Clarke, Cyance is “rapidly building out an ABX platform proposition” that drives better decisioning and aligns sales and marketing teams.  The platform serves both sales and marketing teams, promoting revenue team collaboration, cohesion, and efficiency with a unified versus siloed data platform.

As with other vendors that have recently begun using ABX instead of ABM, Cyance emphasizes account-based programs and processes across the full revenue team and customer life cycle.  ABM has long emphasized sales and marketing alignment, but the bulk of product development has been marketing-centric.  The shift to ABX captures both the broader vision of ABM and a greater emphasis upon the customer experience across the full lifecycle.

“Cyance has transformed account-based marketing by developing and integrating a sophisticated SaaS solution with global, third-party intent data which addresses the needs of the European market,” said Reuben Wilcock, Head of Ventures at Blackfinch Ventures.  “They have demonstrated solid growth from global B2B brands in the last 12 months, despite the challenging times we find ourselves in.  We’re excited to continue supporting Cyance as it helps some of the world’s leading companies to transform their demand generation and account-based marketing programs and achieve more efficient ROI.”

Their January release sports improved intent signal tailoring and segmentation, beefed up technographics, new customer dashboards, and improved service and support.  The platform offers an updated UI, enhanced ICP definition, and buying journey stage identification.


Coverage continues with a discussion of Cyance’s database and intent models.

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.”

Cognism Funding Round

UK Sales Intelligence vendor Cognism closed on a $12.5 million funding round led by AXA Venture Partners and joined by Swisscom Ventures.  Existing investors Investiere and VentureFounders also participated.  Cognism will be deploying the funds to expand its presence in the UK and Europe, including additional functionality and solutions for the global market.

The firm is coming off a strong 2020, during which ARR rose 60% to $11 million.  In January, MRR passed $1 million for the first time.  Cognism supports over 1,000 customers spread across 30 countries.

“We continue to invest in making our data compliant in every one of the 30 countries in which we operate,” said CEO James Isilay. “Our patented AI technology solution makes the process of finding the right prospect faster, more accurate, and compliant, which is now a top priority for all businesses.”

Cognism attributed its success to the strong demand for compliant B2B prospecting data and “the company’s ongoing commitment to adhering to global regulations.”

“Sales intelligence is crucial for making sellers more productive, even more so when people are working from home. Cognism is well-positioned to become the leading company in Europe, and we are excited to be part of that journey.”

Stefan Kuentz, Partner at Swisscom Ventures

Isilay said that Cognism is “moving more upmarket towards enterprise” and hiring account executives and managers. “We’ve got a very strong revenue engine, and now we’re really planning out and getting our retention engine to the next level.”

Cognism, which completed acquired Mailtastic and Ricochet least year, has another in the works. “We really want to be that go-to-market intelligence leader in not just Europe, but the world, and I think we’re going in the right direction right now. Things are looking very positive at the moment.” London-based Cognism was founded in 2015 and grew its employment by 60% over the past year to 223 employees.

Highspot Series E

Highspot became the latest Seattle-area unicorn following a Series E that valued the firm at $2.3 billion.  The Sales Enablement platform, which was launched nine years ago by three former Microsoft employees, closed on a $200 million round led by Tiger Global Management.  Bain & Company, CONIQ Growth, Madrona Venture Group, OpenView, Salesforce Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, and Shasta Ventures also participated.

“Sales enablement is about more than sales.  It connects everyone from marketing and sales to post-sales in delivering a unified buying experience that wins, retains and expands customer relationships,” said Robert Wahbe, CEO, Highspot. “Scaling your go-to-market strategy is a complex process with a large gap between strategy and action.  We close this gap.  Our single, unified platform improves sales performance by turning strategy into successful execution.”

Customers have deployed the Sales Enablement Platform for sales onboarding, ongoing training, content management, guided selling, rep coaching, engagement intelligence, and 360-degree analytics.  They include DocuSign, General Motors, John Deere, Nestle, and Verizon Media,

The firm has over 500 employees in Seattle, London, and Munich.  It plans to open an office in France and enter the APAC market in 2021.  In May 2020, it opened up a Munich office to support its D-A-CH operations.  Highspot doubled its EMEA revenue in 2020.

Highspot supports users in 125 countries.

Highspot does not disclose its revenue but told Bloomberg that ARR increased 900% over the past three years.

Last year, Highspot connected over three million salespeople, channel partners, services reps and customers in digital sales experiences, with usage double that of 2019.  Highspot’s community of sales enablement professionals, Sales Enablement PRO, reached 13,000 members.

“Salesforce changed sales 20 years ago. Marketo changed marketing 10 years ago. Now, Highspot’s vision is to fundamentally change the way companies go to market,” said John Curtius, Partner, Tiger Global Management. “Highspot’s secret is an authentic commitment to people – their employees, customers and partners – that inspires a tremendously collaborative and resilient culture.  We believe they’re capable of sustaining unmatched levels of innovation to achieve their vision.”

“There’s a famous Harvard Business Review article that 70% of strategic initiatives don’t work.  Sometimes it’s not because the strategy isn’t right, it’s because they can’t translate it to the actions taken every day by their frontline sales team.  We allow them to do that.”

Highspot CEO Robert Wahbe

The new funding will “accelerate platform development, including deeper insights into go-to-market strategy and execution offered through Highspot’s industry-only Scorecards.”  

HighSpot also plans to grow its partner ecosystem, expanding its sales methodology training partnerships, technology partners, and Sales Enablement PRO community.

To fuel its growth, Highspot is hiring across “every business function.”

“Over the past year, sales enablement has emerged as a strategic imperative,” said Mark Kovac, Head of Bain & Company’s Global B2B Commercial Excellence Practice.  “Companies that have built world-class enablement teams and technology are managing change and uncertainty at scale, while others struggle with agility and inconsistent performance.  We believe Highspot’s differentiated approach will become the foundation upon which modern businesses achieve consistent revenue growth and market share gains.”