Before Christmas, video platform Vidyard closed on a $15 million financing facility with the BMO Technology & Innovation Banking Group. Vidyard has raised $75.7 million in debt and equity financing to date (see Crunchbase Pro chart on the bottom) and was recently ranked number 39 on Deloitte’s Canada Fast 50.
funds will “help Vidyard remain focused on innovation and product development
while financing strategic M&A & Global Expansion activities so that the
company can continue growing, scaling, and providing customers with the most
robust user experience possible.”
Vidyard has partnered with a wide set of sales engagement platforms, including Outreach, SalesLoft, ConnectLeader, Groove, Xant, and VanillaSoft. Other partners include Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Drift, Outlook, and MailChimp. Partners have cited a 2 to 3X improvement in open and click-through rates due to personalized videos embedded in emails. Reps can quickly record a one-to-one video or embed a marketing video.
continues to make a global impact and is currently serving more than 50 million
videos per day. With the accelerating trend of the world’s most
innovative businesses turning to video to power their marketing, sales, and
internal communications strategies–tomorrow, that number is on a trajectory to
exceed 1 billion,” said CEO Michael Litt. “We’re excited to be working
with BMO’s Technology & Innovation Banking Group to help finance strategies
intended to support our journey in becoming the dominant video platform
provider that the world’s most successful businesses rely on.”
Vidyard customers include Honeywell, LinkedIn, Citibank, and Sharp. A recent study of 218 B2B sales and marketing professionals found the top five uses of video within an organization are brand awareness (67%), lead generation (63%), customer education (63%), buyer education (58%), and sales enablement (54%). Website distribution was the most common channel (79%), followed by email (67%), LinkedIn (63%), YouTube (60%), and landing pages (59%). 40% of respondents indicated that sales reps were deploying one-to-one videos. Heinz Marketing and Vidyard conducted the survey.
Sales Acceleration Platform Cognism closed on a $10 million Series B from PeakSpan, bringing total funding to $16.5 million. Previous investors included Oliver Wyman, South Central Ventures, LCIF, and Newable Ventures Limited. The firm, founded in 2016, grew ARR over 4x last year.
will be deployed for opening local offices in Singapore and New York City as
well as growing its machine learning team. According to CEO James Isilay,
the firm has already “won significant business remotely” in both regions.
Isilay called Asian expansion “particularly interesting” due to SaaS being relatively young in the market. Cognism has already leveraged its partnership with investor Oliver Wyman to acquire two “blue-chip financial clients” in Asia. “Investment here looks to be a promising tonic to the barriers to trade growth that are disrupting business in Europe and America.”
granted our first machine learning patent in December 2018, Cognism is now
building a portfolio of IP which will drive the next evolution of sales and
marketing technology,” said Isilay.
“Sales and marketing technology has been a core focus of ours for many years, arming us with a long-term perspective on the segment and a nuanced understanding of market trends and buyer dynamics that drive strategic value. With such a proliferation of tools and technologies emerging across the marketing and sales landscape over the last decade, it’s no secret that go-to-market leaders today aren’t asking for more software tools – they’re demanding better outcomes. Cognism’s pragmatic application of AI, which underpins the whole solution suite, is paving the way for a new category focused on turning disparate data points into coordinated insights to drive predictive and prescriptive lead generation and improve conversion across all engagements.”
▪ Matt Melymuka, Co-Founder and Partner at PeakSpan
database spans 400 million contacts and 10 million businesses. Cognism’s
products support Prospecting, Sales Triggers, and CRM Enrichments.
CRM Connectors are available for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics,
HubSpot, and PipeDrive. A cadence tool sends templated emails through
Gmail and Outlook.
Marketing Features include A/B testing, Personas, ICP and TAM Analyses, and webform enrichment.
San Francisco-based Revenue Intelligence vendor People.ai announced Round C funding of $60 million along with the launch of its new The Wire next-best-action (NBA) service. The round was led by ICONIQ Capital with participation by Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners, GGV Capital, and Y Combinator. Will Griffith, Partner at ICONIQ Capital, has joined the People.ai Board of Directors.
has received $97 million in funding to date. Its valuation was not provided,
but TechCrunch placed the valuation at “mid-nine-figures.”
announcement of our Series C funding represents a critical milestone in
achieving our vision for the Future of Work,” said People.ai CEO Oleg
Rogynskyy. “We’ve already enabled customers to, for the first time,
capture all of an organization’s critical business data, such as contacts and
customer activity data, and deliver it directly to the CRM. This has
significantly improved sales productivity and CRM data accuracy and liberated
the enterprise from time-consuming manual data entry. Today, we’re taking
People.ai to the next level with AI-driven intelligence that provides
customer-facing teams with a simple, personalized set of actions based on
current, historical and industry data that will help accelerate revenue.
When you use The Wire, you’ll have your most productive day at work,
was founded in 2016 and already supports Red Hat, Lyft, Zoom, New Relic, and
Splunk. The firm describes itself as a Revenue Intelligence System:
“People.ai offers the industry’s only Revenue Intelligence System (RIS) that automates the capture of all contact and customer activity data, dynamically updates CRM and provides actionable intelligence across CRM, collaboration, business intelligence, and other management tools for sales, marketing, customer success and services teams – exponentially accelerating growth and delivering actionable insights for strategic business decision making.”
People.ai fills out buying committees for active opportunities, maps contacts and interactions to accounts and opportunities, and suggests next best actions. Applying natural language processing and machine learning to buying committee discovery and NBA are the latest advancement in sales and marketing intelligence.
also supports contact updates derived from email signatures and pulls “critical
information” such as product or competitor mentions, sentiment, and buyer
recently launched Campaign360 service supports marketing attribution by
tracking opportunities influenced or generated by marketing activities.
Campaign360 is the “industry’s only AI-based solution that equips
Marketers with the real-time, full funnel campaign visibility they need at
their fingertips,” said the firm.
thrilled to partner with People.ai as they execute their vision to unleash the
potential of AI to drive enterprise revenue,” said Griffith. “People.ai
is well positioned in a highly strategic enterprise market, leveraging
automation and AI to fundamentally change the way people work.
People.ai’s product, powered by strong network effects, is delivering
insights and productivity at the scale and quality we have not seen previously.
We see an incredible opportunity to accelerate People.ai’s game-changing
technology as they redefine the meaning of the Predictive Enterprise.
People.ai is the Future of Work.”
Partners include Salesforce, Slack, Outreach, SalesLoft, Exchange, and G Suite.
On Monday, I will be covering The Wire, People.AI’s new Next Best Action service.
US sales engagement vendor VanillaSoft received a pair of investments from Quebecois agencies totaling $4 million. A $1 million loan from Canada Economic Development (CED) for Quebec Regions was announced last month followed by a $3 million equity investment from the Fonds Régional de Solidarité Outaouais (FRSO). The round supports their operations in Gatineau and will fund thirty new positions focused on artificial intelligence functionality. Hiring will be expanded in the R&D and sales functions. The loan will also be directed towards marketing campaigns in Europe and Oceania.
technology is changing the way things are done around the world and providing
companies with outstanding development opportunities,” said Greg Fergus, Member
of Parliament for Hull-Aylme. “Not only is VanillaSoft helping the
Outaouais region build a reputation as a leader in the field of artificial
intelligence, but its expertise and the innovative technology it continues to
export will allow it to create 30 jobs.”
“The financial support and incentives provided by the Government of Canada allow companies like VanillaSoft to thrive,” said Hood. “We have the opportunity to develop new markets and services and appreciate the continued support from CED for our local employees as we promote sales and business here in Quebec and beyond.”
VanillaSoft was founded in New Orleans in 2003 but shifted its operations to its Canadian subsidiary following Hurricane Katrina. CEO David Hood recognized the early help from CED and FRSO to help stabilize the firm:
“Katrina hit and wiped out the office in the U.S., and it’s the office here that grew. This would have been a company that was completely in the U.S. Instead, the majority of the employees are up here, the revenues are up here, and it’s Canada that quite honestly is really benefiting from it.”
CEO David Hood
VanillaSoft is the third major sales engagement firm to receive a funding round in the past month. Outreach and SalesLoft both received significant rounds in April.
Key features include sales cadences, email templates, VOIP dialing, call scripting, call recording, SMS marketing, SMS chat, analytics, lead scoring, and appointment setting.
Recent enhancements include geographic functionality and Vidyard GoVideo integration. New Geographical Information System (GIS) capabilities include proximity routing, directional routing, geolocation filters, and automated time zone features. The new GIS functionality helps field sales reps maximize their client and prospect routing.
VanillaSoft noted that, “with many sales reps clocking far in excess of
25,000 miles per year, the ability to group accounts by area and conduct
efficient outreach is critical.”
Directional routing provides reps with optimized maps for visiting
leads. The feature is assisted by proximity routing which identifies
leads by radius around a ZIP code or a point. For example, a sales rep
can identify leads within a fixed distance of a prospect.
Geolocation filters employ geocodes for customer mapping, helping sales operations group leads by city, neighborhood, and street for lead assignment. VanillaSoft also looks at the rep’s calendar to call out nearby appointments which may warrant rescheduling to optimize field sales rep planning.
“You can work either with latitude and longitude, or with ZIP code.
This gives companies a functionality that I’m not aware is available on any
other sales engagement platform. For appointment setting, for companies that
have salespeople out on the road, and also for understanding where your
customers and prospects are and to be able to target them geographically, this
is an incredibly powerful functionality,” said Hood.
The firm also announced that Vidyard’s GoVideo personal video messaging service will be integrated into VanillaSoft.
“Making a human connection between salespeople and their prospects is
critical for sales success,” said Vidyard CEO Michael Litt. “We know video is a
powerful tool for sales engagement and leaders in the space like VanillaSoft
see the potential of this technology for their users.”
On the heels of Outreach’s $114 million Series E, SalesLoft landed a $70 million round D led by Insight Partners with participation from HarbourVest Partners, Emergence Capital, and LinkedIn. Total funding reached $145 million.
market valuation was not disclosed, TechCrunch indicated that the
valuation was around $600 million. Last year’s Round C valued the firm at
“As the creators of the Sales Engagement category, we’ll use this investment to continue leading the innovation that has come to define the category,” blogged CEO Kyle Porter. “This means investments in our ecosystem API, the mobile application, and our AI-powered sales coaching network.”
out a vision for The Sales Coaching Network of full-time digital assistants
which “gathers data from our network of distributed sellers and identifies what
works and what doesn’t.”
Coaching Network “learns best practices, proven effective across a variety of
situations. It identifies those outlier cases where a creative seller
finds a new, better solution, and adds those techniques to its coaching. This
allows others to learn from the experience of those more creative sellers.”
advice will be tailored to individual sellers and their current activities. According
to Porter’s vision:
The Sales Coaching Network brings out the best in every authentic human-to-human interaction. Sales can never be fully automated, but machines can coach humans in ways that improve our ability to deliver the customer with the best sales experiences while making decisions that allow them to generate the most revenue.
additional funds will also be directed towards expanding their services team,
certified partner network, professional services, and global support.
past few years, SalesLoft has evolved from a cadence service to a multi-channel
communications platform which supports inbound and outbound leads, meeting
management, analytics, and a partner ecosystem. Its top partner,
LinkedIn, is also an investor.
“We are seeing the highest usage in our LinkedIn integration among all the other integrations we provide,” said Porter. “Our customers find that it’s the third most important behind email and phone calls.”
called many of the sales tools on the market “dumb databases or repositories” which
“are not focused on improving how to connect buyers to sales teams in sincere
ways,” said Porter. “And anytime a company like Salesforce has moved into
tangential areas like these, they haven’t built from the ground up, but through
acquisitions. It’s just hard to move giant aircraft carriers.”
doubled revenues the past two years and recently opened an EMEA sales and
support office in London. Recurring revenue has grown ten-fold over the
past three years.
listed a set of reasons for Salesforce’s customer success including company
purpose, reliability, adoption, and impact. SalesLoft’s purpose is to
elevate the sales profession and promote authentic selling:
SalesLoft exists to activate the authentic seller in all of us. While some focus on simply sending more email, we focus on elevating the sales professional as a whole. Today’s buyers deserve an incredible sales experience… one that is sincere, human, and relevant to their needs. They want sellers to provide insights and solve their problems. It’s essential for sellers to take a buyer-centric approach. This is the heart of what we do.
Great sellers also need to be methodical and efficient. At SalesLoft we’re dedicated to helping you codify a scalable and effective sales process so you can consistently hit and exceed your targets.
is based upon email deliverability, phone quality, and application speed.
evidenced by their leadership position on the G2.com grid for Sales Engagement
while impact was borne out by a recent Forrester “Total
Economic Impact of SalesLoft” study which measured a 329% ROI, a 20% lift
in Sales Qualified Leads to Opportunity Conversion Rates, and a 13% improvement
in customer renewal rates.
software companies build a product to meet a market need and then focus purely
on selling. SalesLoft is different. This team is continually
innovating, pushing the boundaries, and changing the face of sales,” said Jeff
Horing, co-founder and MD of Insight Venture Partners. “This is one
reason the company’s customers are so devoted to them.”
Sales Engagement vendor Outreach achieved unicorn status following a $114 million round which valued the firm at $1.1 billion. Total funding reached $239 million. Round E was led by hedge fund manager Lone Pine Capital with Meritech Capital Partners and Lemonade Capital joining the round. Also participating were previous investors DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, Microsoft Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Spark Capital, and Trinity Ventures.
a very strong 2018 and now has over 3,300 customers and 50,000 users. The
firm more than doubled its revenue last year and grew to 315 employees. Outreach
expects to close 2019 with 450 headcount and hit annualized recurring revenue
of $100 million in the next year.
financing will enable us to infuse every aspect of the customer journey with
the power of machine learning so organizations can identify the actions that
move the needle in order to make better, faster decisions,” blogged CEO Manny
Medina. “We will also expand in the coming months by doubling our machine
learning team, increasing our international footprint, and investing in our
partner ecosystem, Galaxy, as well as our recently announced integration with
Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Sales.”
Outreach offers Salesforce and MS Dynamics connectors and plans to release an SAP SE connector by year end.
It’s top competitor, SalesLoft, also received a large funding round. I will cover that tomorrow.
Dun & Bradstreet completed its privatization Friday morning. The firm is now controlled by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings, Bilcar, LLC, Black Knight, Inc. and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. The original offer was tendered on August 8, 2018.
As previously announced, the firm will be led by new CEO Anthony Jabbour and new President Stephen C. Daffron. William P. Foley II has been named the Executive Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet’s Board of Directors.
leadership team indicated that the mission of the firm, “to help our customers
improve their business performance through data and insights,” is unchanged.
Likewise, there are no significant changes in direction. “We plan to
invest in several key areas to strengthen our core data assets, create
high-value analytics, enhance our technological capabilities, and deliver a
top-notch customer experience.”
The firm is
positioning privatization as a strategic advantage. “We now have greater
flexibility to build a competitive advantage in the vibrant market for data and
insights; an edge that we are confident will benefit our customers. Now more
than ever, we will have the opportunity to offer solutions to accelerate
revenue, reduce cost, manage risk and transform businesses. We plan to invest
in several key areas to strengthen our core data assets, create high-value
analytics, enhance our technological capabilities, and deliver a top-notch
“For 177 years, our mission has been to help customers leverage data and insights to improve business performance. The next evolution of Dun & Bradstreet’s history will expand the value we bring to our customers around the globe. The journey ahead is a big one for all of us, and the potential, vast. Our executive team and employees around the globe are excited to work with our customers and partners on this next chapter in our iconic brand’s history.”
Dun & Bradstreet Announcement
Dun & Bradstreet
was purchased by the investor group for $145 per share ($6.9 billion when
including acquired debt of $1.5 billion)
Dun & Bradstreet posted $1.7 billion in 2017 revenue. The firm employs 4,900 globally and provides risk management (supplier and credit risk) and sales & marketing services. Key product include RMI, D&B Hoovers, D&B Optimizer, and Audience Solutions. Its D-U-N-S Numbering system is the de facto global company numbering system and often required by banks and federal contracting. Other key assets include their global company linkages and the WorldBase file of 300 million active and inactive companies.
European Sales Acceleration vendor Cognism continues to demonstrate strong
momentum out of the gate with a second funding round. The firm closed on
a £2.8 million round from investors including Oliver Wyman, South Central
Ventures, LCIF, Newable, and existing investors.
The expansion capital will be
“used to enhance the solution for Enterprises and also expand the offering into
the Financial Services sector.”
“Cognism is moving beyond
sales intelligence and applying its patented machine intelligence technology to
understand the revenue challenges at the Enterprise level,” said CEO James
Isilay. “There is a natural fit between the data and analytics the
Cognism platform provides and the strategy that can then be derived to enhance
revenue at the Enterprise level. We are keen to showcase this value to this
sector and hope our collaboration with Oliver Wyman will propel us forward and
continue our strong growth.”
Cognism, which was founded in 2016, already has over 200 customers and has posted 617% revenue growth year-to-date. The firm offers a data set of 400 million global companies and contacts. Their Prospector service supports persona based prospecting, sales intelligence, and CRM connectors. Other products include Refresh CRM enrichment and Engage sales acceleration (sales engagement).
“Our clients are continuously looking for new ways to accelerate growth. Cognism technology will provide our clients with dynamic insights into their existing client base, enabling them to develop more targeted solutions and improving sales success. At the same time, Cognism technology will allow our clients to make a step change in their prospecting efforts. Cognism’s data asset will allow our clients to identify prospects matching detailed personas, leveraging data on over 400M companies and individuals.”
Kai Upadek, Partner at Oliver Wyman
Cognism also announced the addition of Vidyard GoVideo to outbound emails. Vidyard’s video “selfies” help sales reps personalize communications and “build stronger relationships with their prospects” with “one-to-one videos on-demand in a matter of moments.”
I was going to be writing about yesterday’s #FlipMyFunnel conference keynote given by Terminus CEO Sangram Vajre this morning, but I woke up to news that Dun & Bradstreet is being taken private. So, I’ll recap Vajre’s discussion of humanizing B2B and the need for authenticity in a later post.
Dun & Bradstreet announced that it will be taken private by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings, and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, for $5.38 billion in cash. Shareholders will receive $145 per share, an 18% premium over its Wednesday close. The acquisition includes $1.5 billion in assumed debt.
The deal is subject to shareholder approval and is expected to close within six months.
Dun & Bradstreet has a venerable history going back 177 years. Employees include several future nineteenth century Presidents. The firm, however, has struggled in recent years to grow revenues, particularly in its Risk Management Solutions group. Sales & Marketing Solutions, which makes up a bit over 40% of the company, has posted slow but steady growth.
Dun & Bradstreet has some market leading assets:
The D-U-N-S number is the de facto global numbering system for companies. It is often required for loans and is necessary for bidding on US government contracts.
The WorldBase company file contains global linkages, Tradestyles, and credit scores for 300 million active, dormant, and defunct companies making it valuable for credit risk, supplier risk, master data management, research, client onboarding, marketing, and sales.
The Global Company Authority (FKA NetProspex) provides global directors, executives, and mid-level managers.
D&B Hoovers (FKA Avention) continues to improve with the addition of the WorldBase file, First Research industry overviews, and Global Company Authority file to the Sales Acceleration platform.
Digital delivery solutions include the D&B Direct API, connectors for CRM and Marketing Automation platforms, B2B programmatic marketing, and visitor ID (the mapping of anonymous website visitors to their firm).
The company has a strong data foundation and has been shifting delivery of its product line to the cloud, but its sales and marketing products have not had significant growth. Instead, Dun & Bradstreet has seen companies such as DiscoverOrg, LinkedIn (Sales Navigator), TechTarget, and Zoominfo enjoy most of the growth in the Sales and Marketing Intelligence space.
Funding will be a combination of debt and equity. The deal includes a 45-day “go-shop” period during which alternative offers will be welcome.
Thomas J. Manning will continue as the CEO through the closing of the transaction while James N. Fernandez, a director of the Company since 2004 and Lead Director since February 2018, will continue as the Chairman.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the value creation opportunities available to the Company as part of a full portfolio and business assessment and exploration of strategic alternatives with multiple financial sponsors. As a result of this process, the Dun & Bradstreet Board of Directors unanimously determined that this all-cash transaction with the Investor Group is in the best interest of our shareholders and our Company,” said Manning.
William P. Foley II, Chairman of Cannae Holdings, said, “In an increasingly data-driven world, Dun & Bradstreet’s insight-driven business model and interconnectivity across industries has positioned the Company for continued success. We are excited to grow the Company, increase operating efficiencies and improve the Dun & Bradstreet customer experience by providing enhanced business solutions.”
Customer engagement platform Outreach announced a $65 million Series D last week, bringing its total funding to $125 million. The round was led by Spark Capital and includes investment from Sapphire Ventures as well as from existing investors DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, MHS Capital, Microsoft Ventures and Trinity Ventures.
Business Insider placed the valuation around $500 million, more than double the Series C valuation. The firm is eyeing an IPO in 2021 subject to market conditions.
Funds will be deployed towards product development “with a specific focus on machine learning and extending the platform beyond the sales team to every customer-facing role.”
Outreach rolled out the first application of its Amplify AI platform in March for intent classification. “This feature detects the intent of an email reply from a prospect and uses that intent to automate or recommend the next best action for the sales rep to take,” blogged product storyteller Chelsey Feldman. “Our intent classification capabilities use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to go beyond reply rates and measure whether replies are positive, objections, or unsubscribe requests…The result is the ability to measure email effectiveness and classify intent at scale.”
The firm now describes itself as a Customer Engagement company that is employing machine learning “to scientifically test, measure and optimize the performance of sales teams, while also automating non sales-related tasks.”
Medina blogged about this broader company vision last week:
Our mission is to help innovators, the evangelists of new technologies who face a lot of no’s before reaching the yes, to get their products to the people who need them, to successfully build new markets, and to fund the cycle of continuous innovation. For the past couple of years we delivered against that mission by equipping sales reps and leaders to drive predictable and measurable growth, to increase efficiency and effectiveness across the team, and to improve visibility into sales activities and team performance. We pioneered a new category of technology – the Sales Engagement Platform – that drove significant bottom line results for our customers.
But achieving revenue efficiency and delivering a world-class experience to every customer is the job not just of your sales team, but of every customer-facing employee. Many of our customers have already realized the power of Outreach to drive efficiency and lift across the revenue organization and are using Outreach for account management and customer success in addition to pipeline generation and closing. The category has effectively grown beyond Sales Engagement to become Customer Engagement…
You can only make smart decisions around improving customer experience if you can measure the outcomes of every process for all customer scenarios, and understand how those outcomes directly impact revenue. The next revolution in business will be driven not by big bang AI programs that produce lofty recommendations that are difficult to put into action, but by stacking thousands of these quick wins on top of each other to drive efficiency into every corner of the business.
“Outreach has been instrumental in creating and evolving the customer engagement category, which is growing at an exponential rate,” said Alex Clayton, Investor at Spark Capital. “Outreach’s technology, approach and leadership team make it poised to capture this multi-billion dollar opportunity.”
The Series D follows after a strong 2017 where the company doubled its customer base and posted more than 100% revenue growth. Outreach also doubled its headcount over the past year to 300 employees with a goal of 350 by the end of the year. The firm has 22,000 global users and 2,400 customers including Cloudera, Adobe, Microsoft, and DocuSign.
“The customer engagement category is experiencing explosive growth, due in large part to high rates of usage, a rarity for enterprise software which is often used as a data repository or even worse, purchased and forgotten,” said CEO Manny Medina. “Our north star isn’t number of customers, it’s number of Weekly Active Users. This metric is proof we have created a technology that not only drives revenue, but also is viewed as indispensable to every member of the revenue team.”
Usage remains high with 75% of sales reps signing in daily. “Now salespeople have a place to live,” Medina said.