Chili Piper and Calendly Funding Rounds

Meeting Automation vendor Chili Piper closed on its $33 million “Series Spicy” led by Tiger Global with participation from existing investors Base10 Partners and Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture capital fund.  The Series B raised total funding to $54.4 million, most of which was raised over the last nine months.

The additional funds will be used to accelerate product development and global expansion.  The round will also help them build out its sales, marketing, and customer success teams.

“We’re excited to partner with Tiger Global, one of the most successful and prolific software investors in the world,” said Chili Piper CEO Nicolas Vandenberghe. “With hundreds of customers and tens of thousands of reps using Chili Piper adding spice to their calendaring efforts daily, we thought, why not raise $33 million to ensure we up our Scoville game?”

Chili Piper Funding (Source: Crunchbase)

Like many SalesTech companies, Chili Piper enjoyed pandemic tailwinds as businesses went remote and looked to streamline their calendaring.

“We’re proud to have so many customers scheduling meetings and optimizing their calendars with Chili Piper’s Instant Booker.  We know some people can’t handle how hot our platform is, but believe me, once you use software as pungent as this, you’ll never go back,” said CPO Alina Vandenberghe.

Chili Piper positions itself as a Meeting Lifecycle Automation company.  Beyond booking meetings, it handles inbound meeting requests, sets up follow-up conversations, and maximizes the value of meetings.  Meeting workflow features include setting and sharing agendas, booking next steps, logging notes and follow-up actions, and syncing with the CRM.

“Before we launched our inbound solution, Concierge, every company had accepted the industry standard 40% conversion rate on inbound demo requests — meaning that 60 out of every 100 inbound meeting requests (aka inbound leads) never converted into a held meeting.  The biggest culprit was speed to lead.  The moment a prospect submits a meeting request form on your website, you should be connecting to get a meeting on their calendar.”

Chili Piper Website, “What is Meeting Lifecycle Automation?

Chili Piper, founded in 2016, has 101 employees across 22 countries.  The company is structured as a fully remote organization.

Customers include Gong, Spotify, Intuit, Twilio, and Airbnb. Expect more spicy pepper puns in the coming months.

Chili Piper isn’t the only Meeting Management vendor to be gaining attention from the VCs. In January, Calendly closed on a $350 million Series B with OpenView Venture Partners and Iqoniq Capital.  The funding round valued the Atlanta-based scheduling firm at greater than $3 billion.  Last year, it doubled its subscription revenue to $70 million and grew its user base to ten million.  

Calendly has been profitable since 2016.  Nigerian immigrant Tope Awotona founded Calendly after a series of failed businesses.

The funds will be used to provide liquidity for early shareholders and employees.  It will also fund ongoing product innovation, including expanded appointment setting enhancements and integrations.  The firm plans to double its headcount (at 200 in January) and continue to build out its R&D operations in Kyiv.

As a freemium service, users can test out Calendly and license the service for either $8 or $12 per month.  The service is generalized, supporting business people, teachers, contractors, and freelancers.  It offers integrations with calendars (e.g. Outlook, Exchange, Google Calendar), video conferencing (e.g. Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting, JoinMe), and payment services (PayPal, Stripe).  Calendly offers apps for Android, iOS, Outlook, Chrome, and Firefox.

“We really see ourselves as a leading orchestration platform,” explained Awotona.  “What that means is that we really want to remain extensible and flexible.  We want our users to bring their own best-in-class products.  We think about this in an agnostic way.”

“Calendly has a vision increasingly to be a central part of the meeting life cycle,” said Blake Bartlett, a partner at Openview. “What happens before, during, and after the meeting.  Historically, the obvious was before the meeting, but now it’s looking at integrations, automations, and other things so that it all magically happens.  But moving into the rest of the lifecycle is a lot of opportunity but also many players.”

Flash: Demandbase Acquires InsideView and DemandMatrix

ABX Platform vendor Demandbase acquired InsideView and DemandMatrix, providing it with an established and well-regarded Sales Intelligence platform, company and contact data, technographics, and data hygiene capabilities.  The acquisitions follow on last year’s acquisition of ABM Platform Engagio, which was unified with Demandbase as part of the Q4 Demandbase One platform release.

“It’s a feeling of expansion, born of learning so much from our customers, and born of the digital transformation that has happened in the last year,” said Demandbase CEO Gabe Rogol.  “This is an intentional step for us beyond being solely an ABM leader and into broader B2B go-to-market. That’s important because ABM is just a part of the go-to-market challenges that B2B companies face.”

The new services are packaged as an ABM Suite consisting of four clouds: ABX, Advertising, Sales Intelligence, and Data.  Customers will have the flexibility to order various elements of the suite, selecting the clouds and services that fit their needs.

“Our focus has been on building the most complete ABM solution (we call it ABX, because it’s not just marketing),” said Rogol, “and that was the impetus behind acquiring Engagio, putting a lot of the top of funnel and lower funnel stuff together.  That will still be important.”

While some may view this as Demandbase growing beyond ABX, it is an opportunity for them to complete the ABX vision.  I have long been critical of Demandbase’s limited framing of ABM within the marketing department.  While they acquired Spiderbook, a small sales intelligence vendor, a few years ago, it withered on the vine and is no longer mentioned by the firm.  InsideView provides them with an opportunity to realize ABX as a complete customer lifecycle solution.  There are still missing elements such as sales engagement tools and chatbots, but they are now working on a much wider canvas.

Demandbase is in a sprint to establish the ABX platform space against vendors such as Terminus, 6Sense, and Dun & Bradstreet.  It has been using the ABM three-letter acronym for a dozen years and was a lonely voice extolling ABM for half of that time, arguing for a shift from demand generation marketing to account-based strategies.  Earlier this year, it shifted from ABM to ABX (Account Based Experience), which places a greater emphasis on long-term relationships with customers and the broader revenue team (sales, marketing, customer success).

“We’re proud to join forces with these two great companies. Our vision is bold. We are transforming how B2B companies go to market, helping them deliver great experiences at every stage of the account journey. This requires great data — and we now have the premium B2B data and intelligence solutions to help companies identify, understand, and engage their customers and prospects. With this move, Demandbase moves from being ‘just’ a leader in account-based programs to being the definitive leader in B2B go-to-market…

These new offerings let us work even more flexibly with our customers. Customers can mix and match to focus on the areas most important for them, whether that’s data embedded to their existing systems, or advertising, or sales intelligence, or a full account-based transformation. We are moving aggressively to deliver on this mission, and no company will move faster than us to achieve it.”

Demandbase CEO Gabe Rogol

Acquiring InsideView and DemandMatrix strengthens its position in both marketing and sales.  Furthermore, InsideView’s sales triggers provide Demandbase customers with a rich set of talking points for account managers and customer success teams, letting them know if there are executive changes, M&A events, new partnerships, etc.

Demandbase One added the Sales Intelligence and Data Clouds with this week’s acquisitions.

Demandbase, which offers an ABX Cloud and an Advertising Cloud, now supports a Data Cloud and Sales Intelligence Cloud.  The Sales Intelligence Cloud is based upon InsideView and supports:

  • Prospect Finder – A traditional list-building feature for company and contact data.  Along with firmographic and biographic data, the InsideView prospect finder includes connection variables (Who Know Who “six degrees”), sales triggers (17 + custom variables), data availability (e.g., LinkedIn Connections, Email), and suppression lists.
  • Browser Extension – A Chrome extension for quick lookup and prospecting.  The extension displays InsideView company and contact profiles from LinkedIn, company websites, and CRMs.  Records may be sent to the CRM or Sales Engagement Platforms.
  • News and Social Insights – InsideView publishes daily email alerts based upon their sales triggers.  As these are event-based, most company noise (e.g., stock price fluctuations, scores for teams playing at branded stadia) is removed and duplicates suppressed.  They also support inline social media viewing for Facebook, Twitter, and Company Blogs.  Inline viewing helps account managers and customer success teams stay abreast of key accounts.  It also assists marketing and CI professionals in monitoring key partners and competitors.
  • Corporate Hierarchies – Family trees assist with lead-to-account mapping, selling deeper into an organization, and ensuring that leads are accurately scored and routed.

The Data Cloud consists of Demandbase, InsideView, and DemandMatrix assets.  InsideView contributes close to 100 million global contacts and 17 million companies.  DemandMatrix supports technographics (current tech stack, future technology needs, technology-based skill set trends, cloud consumption revenue, and IT Spend). 

Other Data Cloud services include Demandbase Account Identification, InsideView Apex (ICP Discovery and Expansion), InsideView Data Integrity hygiene tools, and the InsideView API.

“For the last 15 years, we’ve been focused on empowering our customers to experience rapid revenue growth through the power of data.  InsideView’s leadership in sales intelligence made it clear to us years ago that stronger ties between sales and marketing lead to more revenue—and data is the key. By joining forces with Demandbase, we’re combining our legacy and leadership in sales, and the industry’s freshest, most reliable data, with leading marketing technology. Our customers will be able to do more with data across more B2B revenue channels from sales, to advertising, to account-based campaigns. We’re taking the convergence of data and workflow to the next level.”

InsideView CEO Umberto Milletti

InsideView was highly rated in The Forrester Wave B2B Marketing Data Providers Q2 2021 report, scoring a five (highest score) across 14 of Forrester’s 24 evaluation criteria.  Among the categories in which they excelled were data management, data coverage, and customer support.

Rogol emphasized the value of technographics for enterprise technology companies, saying that “for technology companies, the number one feature in a data science model is what technologies your prospect owns.”

“B2B data is complex, and customers consistently ask us for help with their data stack,” said DemandMatrix CEO Meetul Shah. “We started with further innovating technographic data to give customers valuable insights into their prospects and what other technologies they might buy. By now being part of the Demandbase Data Cloud, we’ll be able to provide customers access throughout the B2B data stack to help them realize their revenue goals.”

Both Milletti and Shah will continue running their respective businesses and join the Demandbase executive team as general managers.  The two subsidiaries will operate separately, but the firm will consolidate the data across the offerings.

Acquisition prices for the two firms were not disclosed.  The InsideView service lists its revenue at $30.5 million and 275 employees, which has remained stable over the past few years.  DemandMatrix is listed at $3.0 million in revenue with 90 employees.

InsideView’s self-profile (May 4, 2021)

“At Demandbase, our vision is bold. We are transforming how B2B companies go to market, helping them deliver great experiences at every stage of the account journey.  This requires great data,” said Demandbase.  “We now have the premium B2B data and intelligence solutions to help companies identify, understand, and engage their customers and prospects. With this move, Demandbase goes from being ‘just’ a leader in account-based programs to being the definitive leader in B2B go-to-market.”

InsideView and DemandMatrix customers benefit from the more extensive go-to-market capabilities of their parent.  The DemandMatrix suite helps customers:

  • Design and orchestrate their entire buyer’s journey across marketing and sales
  • Personalize their website experience, track account-level engagement, and attribute revenue
  • Deliver account-based display, native, and social media advertising that is brand safe for B2B
  • Target and segment their market

Rogol admitted that the integration work would not be easy.  “Obviously, we still have a lot of the execution work ahead. One thing to point out is that these are different types of acquisitions than Engagio. With Engagio, the goal was to get to the most comprehensive ABM platform. These are adjacent expansions, so they’re going to operate as standalone businesses pretty much.”

Barb Mosher Zinck of Diginomica was bullish on the transactions, calling it a “smart move” to consolidate the data from three companies under a single platform.  “It’s essentially a Customer Data Platform (CDP) without the CDP name (and some CDP capabilities), providing all the critical information sales and marketing need to find the right accounts and contacts within those accounts. The intelligence DemandMatrix brings on technology is key, as is the ability from InsideView to see when things are changing in a company.”

“I also like that Demandbase has broadened its offering from only account-based marketing to sales intelligence because the two groups are tightly aligned,” continued Mosher Zinck.  “These two solutions can operate separately but bringing them together under the same umbrella with access to the same data is key to ensuring a company-wide focus on customer experience.”


The following Market Flash published on May 4th to my newsletter subscribers. I also offer a detailed InsideView product review for purchase ($349).

Groove – Seismic Integration

Selecting Seismic content for inclusion in a Groove email flow

Groove and Seismic announced an integration partnership to “deliver relevant, approved, [and] compliant” Seismic content and LiveSend links within the Groove Sales Engagement Platform.

“Personalization is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather is an expectation from customers in today’s digital-first B2B sales environment,” said Preseetha Pettigrew, Seismic Global Vice President, Strategic Alliances.  “This integration with Groove streamlines the seller workflow, allowing frontline teams to focus on nurturing relationships and deliver greater value to clients.  I look forward to seeing how our joint customers benefit from this partnership.”

The integration delivers relevant content and CRM data within the Groove workflow and assists with intelligent content discovery.

“In today’s increasingly digital and remote B2B sales environment, this integrated solution bridges a critical gap between the point of engagement and Salesforce that helps companies quickly realize time-to-value, without a heavy lift from their IT or application development teams.  And easing the transition to remote selling is critical. Gartner’s 2020 Future of Sales research projects that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels.”

Groove Director of Communications Jason Klein

Speaking to their joint value proposition, Groove Director of Communications Jason Klein said the firms share a “customer-first approach” to engaging clients in a “customized, data-driven, and scalable way while maintaining high compliance standards.”

ZoomInfo Workflows Enhanced

ZoomInfo Workflows are natural language statements that follow a trigger/filter/action process.

ZoomInfo rolled out an upgraded Workflows product for automating trigger-based tasks.  The service sports a simplified natural-language UI for building workflows “in ways that feel conversational, simple, and secure.”

ZoomInfo Senior Product Director Apparao Karri explained that Workflows are at the intersection of go-to-market data availability and sales automation, calling it “the long tail of GTM automation.”

Continued Karri, “Intelligent Automation is a key differentiator for businesses, and the underlying technology stack is mature and ready to deliver at scale.  ZoomInfo Workflows is a product built on this framework to improve productivity, reduce lost opportunities, and bring consistency to the go-to-market motions.”

Product Marketing Director Thad Peterson contrasted Workflows with Marketing Automation Platforms:

“Marketing automation has existed for many years, but often on a generic playing field.  For example, when visitors fill out a form on a company website, marketers can drop their information into a sequence or a campaign in their CRM.  But those campaigns are limited because a form-fill mechanism doesn’t provide targeted and specific information for each of those prospective customers. Now we live in a world where individual sales reps can create hyper-targeted campaigns based on nearly every imaginable scenario.”

ZoomInfo Product Marketing Director Thad Peterson

The basic structure of a Workflow is triggers, filters, and actions.  Triggers are business events detected by ZoomInfo and include ZoomInfo WebSights (website visitor intelligence), technographic changes, Clickagy Streaming Intent, fundings, and ZoomInfo Scoops (e.g., projects, PPP funding).  Triggers may also be created from saved searches that identify new companies or contacts that meet the saved criteria.

Triggers act as signals subject to pre-defined filters.  The filters are conditions that must be met for an action to be taken.  They can be based upon ZoomInfo or Salesforce criteria.  For example, presence in an ABM list, meeting firmographic criteria, assigned to a rep in Salesforce, or not present in Salesforce.  Actions dictate the Workflow response and include sending emails, assigning contacts, creating records, or kicking off sales flows (cadences) in ZoomInfo Engage, SalesLoft, or Outreach.  Marketing actions can be processed through HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, and Eloqua.

Actions include a processing frequency (e.g., daily, weekly) and limits on the number of exported records.  The limit works as a throttle so that reps are not overwhelmed with too many leads.  It also prevents a workflow from using up too many ZoomInfo credits.  Some actions have sub-actions associated with platforms (e.g. set campaign or cadence / sequence / flow).

Filters can also be employed for territory assignment, ensuring that the activity is routed to the proper sales rep.  As ZoomInfo has one of the deepest pools of professional contacts with emails and direct-dial phones, they can activate sales and marketing activity from anonymous account-level signals for targeted functions and levels.

“If businesses want to scale quickly, they can’t become mired in day-to-day tasks that can easily be automated,” said ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck.  “ZoomInfo’s Workflows eliminates redundant, repetitive tasks and helps teams to focus on the human side of closing business by establishing strong relationships with prospects and customers.”


Continue to Part II.

Post-Pandemic Business Travel

There does not appear to be a big rush back to business travel after the pandemic, with demand remaining below the $1.4 trillion commercial spend through 2025, according to the Global Business Travelers Association (GBTA).  Only 27% of US companies expect to be spending money on travel over the next six months.

A Fortune Analytics survey found that only 67% of business professionals that traveled for work pre-pandemic plan to resume previous levels.

These results line up with the stated trend towards Work from Anywhere (WFH), with companies no longer looking to maintain traditional five-day-a-week office settings.  A January Deloitte survey found that 75% of CEOs are considering reducing their commercial space requirements.  

Companies have learned how to coordinate activities internally and with customers and partners digitally.  The need to press the flesh doesn’t seem as vital as it did pre-pandemic.

“The outcomes of meetings held on Zoom vs. those held in person are not that much different, but the costs are night-and-day different,” said Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers. “It will be hard to justify the costs that were once supported.”

Management Consultancy Oliver Wyman contends that business professionals have found video conferencing and other digital communications tools to be sufficient in maintaining commercial relationships.

The GBTA noted that the pandemic’s impact was ten-times that of 9-11 and the 2008 financial crisis.  After those events, there were also concerns that commercial travel wouldn’t bounce back, but digital channels are much more mature now, and the extended WFH time has normalized video conferencing.

It’s “our expectation that business travel will lag consumer travel,” said Jeff Campbell, CFO of American Express Co., on an earnings call.  

Amazon, which spent $1 billion on travel annually, commented that its “sales teams found new ways to reach customers.”

Forrester Principal Analyst Peter Ostrow suggests that initially, there will be pent-up demand for business travel as individuals yearn to get out of the house. Still, he cautions that this should be a temporary burst, not a return to pre-pandemic travel volume.  Companies should ask three questions for determining the appropriate volume and rationales for travel:

  1. What do Buyers and Customers Prefer?  Not every meeting, particularly those involving disparate buying team members, should be face-to-face.  B2B Sales should recognize that B2B purchasing has adapted over the past year as well.
  2. How Have We Made Things Work Remotely? “Sales leaders must determine what adaptations have supported more productive sales motions, rep productivity, adoption of top-down initiatives, and desired changes in seller behavior.” Being remote has allowed reps to develop new remote selling skills (e.g., prospecting, presentation) that should be retained.  Likewise, CROs should consider whether SDRs should be centralized, or are they better off not commuting each day?  Be careful not to let the voices of those underperformed during WFH drown out those reps who have excelled in the new environment.
  3. What Does the Data Say? Review the data and determine which personas were more or less accessible during WFH, which pipeline stages were faster or slower during WFH, and which product lines suffered due to the loss of in-person pitches.

Failing to address these questions could result in the loss of many of the digital efficiency gains that have sustained B2B sales over the past year.

In short, Ostrow suggests that research and data guide travel decision-making.  Just as companies are re-evaluating the need for centralized offices vs. hybrid models or fully remote staffing, travel decisions should be re-evaluated as well.  Field Sales and weekly exhibitions in different cities have always been expensive propositions.  The focus should be on adopting the most effective interactions, whether remote or face-to-face, for driving long-term revenue growth.     

Remote work also has a demographic impact, with professionals decamping from New York, Seattle, San Jose, and San Francisco for Miami, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, and Denver.  There are even a set of “Zoom Towns” such as Boulder, CO, Tulsa, OK, and the Hudson Valley (NY) benefiting from in-migration.

“The rise of remote work changes that equation [between work and home locations]—not in all sectors of the economy but in more than ever before. Skilled techies and knowledge workers, in particular, can enjoy the kind of freedom and flexibility that used to be available only to successful novelists, artists and inventors—the ability to work when and where they want to.  They can increasingly “vote with their feet,” selecting the kinds of places that best meet their needs without worrying about what they can earn in the local labor market.  Families may gravitate to smaller cities, updated suburbs or rural areas with outdoor amenities, while ambitious young professionals fresh out of college or graduate school are likely to continue flocking to urban centers for entry-level jobs and social life.”

Richard Florida and Adam Ozimek, “How Remote Work Is Reshaping America’s Urban Geography,” Wall Street Journal (March 5, 2011)

And WFH has not been a productivity loss, but a net positive as workers are no longer saddled with long commutes and water cooler chitchat.  Stanford University economist Nick Bloom found as much as a 2.5% productivity lift from remote work.

According to Outreach CEO Manny Medina, 70 to 80% of buyers want a digital experience.

From a sales and marketing perspective, many of the digital practices that boosted SalesTech and MarTech industry revenues over the past year are likely to continue.  There will still be field sales reps calling on top prospects, but there will be more video conferencing and fewer face-to-face meetings than before.  Likewise, tradeshows and user conferences are likely to be smaller or operate more as roadshows rather than large events.  Tent pole events, such as Dreamforce, will return, but less popular events may downsize or remain virtual.  And even the tent-poles are likely to be hybrid events.  For example, Dreamforce has always recorded and posted its sessions for virtual viewing, so will likely combine live and digital best practices at future events.

Seismic Acquires Grapevine6

Sales enablement and marketing orchestration platform Seismic acquired long-standing partner Grapevine6, a Toronto-based digital and social engagement platform.  Grapevine6 helps customer-facing professionals deliver “relevant content” from over 11,000 third-party publishers in six languages.  The Grapevine6 service, which is being re-launched as Seismic LiveSocial, improves sales engagement with customers and prospects through “meaningful, authentic online conversations” on social media platforms.  LiveSocial shifts social media communications from companies to trusted advisors, fostering social selling.

Grapevine6 will be integrated into Seismic and underpin the new Seismic LiveSocial service for sales and client-facing teams.  It will continue to be available as a freemium offering.

“LiveSocial will leverage the AI engine built by Grapevine6 to help sellers become trusted advisors by authentically engaging with their clients across the social media landscape,” said Seismic.  The combined service will help customer-facing professionals share “timely, reputable, and compliant content in their own voice” across LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Users are fed a daily stream of tailored content “that best fits their interests and the needs of the markets they sell or serve.” Marketing content is included in the feed, and users can search their corporate content library.

“Each organization, and every individual seller, has a different perspective on the right balance of content,” Seismic stated in an email to GZ Consulting.  “Authenticity demands that there be no single correct approach.  Once the seller has connected their social profiles, Grapevine6’s AI platform intelligently serves up content that sellers can share on their social profiles based on an interest graph developed from previous activity and earned engagement.  Sellers can also calibrate their interest graph from within the platform.  Additionally, with the risk and compliance controls in place, sellers do not have to worry about vetting each and every post.  Content is already evaluated and approved based on hundreds of risk factors.”

Grapevine6 said that most employee advocacy programs fail because social content is focused on the individual and the company but lacks a broader perspective and “fresh, relevant content” that speaks to broader topics and industry issues.  Furthermore, the adoption rates are low because reps don’t know what’s in it for them.  By offering a steady stream of personalized content that can be quickly shared and monitored for compliance, LiveSocial mixes in a broad set of compliant content consistent with the brand while avoiding the problem of narcissistic messaging about the individual and the company.

“People engage with and do business with, people that they know, respect, and trust.  Leading firms now recognize that their brand lives at the edge of the organization.  It lives in the personal brand, the reputation, and the conversations of every client-facing employee.  It’s no longer enough to rely on centralized communication and advertising channels to get the word out about the great work your firm does.  Modern marketing success comes from empowering every employee to show up, speak up, nurture new and existing relationships, and spark conversations on social media.”

Grapevine6 FAQ

LiveSocial metrics include the ROI of a company’s social engagement strategy.  Other user and administrator metrics include activity, engagement, impact, top-performing assets, and top-performing topic areas.

“In today’s dynamic sales landscape, buyers increasingly want to hear from and connect with trusted individuals, not companies, on social media,” said Seismic CEO Doug Winter.  “Grapevine6 will be instrumental to providing additional customer value by combining Seismic’s industry-leading sales enablement platform and Grapevine6’s digital engagement platform, further empowering sales teams to educate and engage with buyers online — while simultaneously helping to build their personal brands in an authentic way.”

“Social media has cemented itself as a critical front line between organisations and their customers with IDC reporting that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions,” said Seismic Asia Pacific and Japan VP Richard Kulkarni.  “With the global pandemic as a catalyst, social selling skills, and digital eminence have become vital competencies for workforces.  Seismic LiveSocial not only empowers sales teams to engage clients more effectively on social media channels but also helps turn every employee into a brand ambassador, delivering a strong advantage in this new business reality.”


Continue to Part II.

ZoomInfo Acquires Clickagy

Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendor ZoomInfo acquired real-time intent vendor Clickagy, “a leading provider of artificial intelligence-powered buyer intent data.”

Along with the acquisition, ZoomInfo announced the launch of Streaming Intent, which alerts customers when companies display above-average B2B topic search activity.

The acquisition is DiscoverOrg/ZoomInfo’s fourth over the past two years but the first since ZoomInfo went public in June.  In 2019, DiscoverOrg acquired rival sales and marketing intelligence vendor ZoomInfo before rebranding itself as ZoomInfo Technologies.  It also had two tuck-ins last year: NeverBounce, an email verification vendor that it was already using for data verification, and Komiko, the underpinnings of its Inbox AI service.

There are six major categories of B2B intelligence, and ZoomInfo is a significant player in four of them: Contacts, Technographics, Sales Triggers, and Intent Data.  They also provide firmographics, but this remains an area for future growth and development.  The category where they do not offer datasets is financial services intelligence, including company financials, filings (e.g. SEC EDGAR, UCC, UK Companies House), and risk reports (credit and supplier).

Deal Rationale

“In the last year alone, we’ve had literally hundreds of thousands of conversations with customers and prospects and one thing is clear—they want intent data to live at the core of how they go to market,” blogged CEO Henry Schuck about the rationale for acquiring Clickagy.  “And over the course of those calls it’s easy to see intent data taking a seat right alongside the two most important pieces of business information—account and contact data.  The three together, driving account identification, targeting, and segmentation will soon be table stakes for how sellers and marketers identify their next best customers.”

Schuck emphasized that product design at ZoomInfo is iterative with plans for improving a product in place before each release goes to production.  Shuck called their previous intent offerings good, but not good enough.  This drive to improve their intent services led them to investigate best-of-breed intent data solutions to enhance their offering.  Their research led them to Clickagy.

“Clickagy had built a robust data processing engine that looks at billions of key data points across millions of websites and then uses robust natural language processing and artificial intelligence to categorize and make sense of those data points.  Their technology, approach to data collection, privacy-first perspective, and focus on intent data made it clear that we not only wanted Clickagy to be a part of our intent product, but we needed Clickagy to be a part of ZoomInfo.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

ZoomInfo Intent will continue to provide “good keywords, quality-focused data science, [and] industry-leading account data,” but now “casts a wider net” and delivers actionable intent throughout the day.  Combining the companies will “dramatically shorten the path from data, to decision, to action,” blogged Shuck.

“B2B intent data is becoming core to the way modern go-to-market organizations prioritize their outreach to prospects and customers,” wrote Schuck.  “Our acquisition of Clickagy enables us to scale intent to provide what will soon be the market’s most predictive and complete B2B intent data set for sellers and marketers.  We believe this acquisition both exemplifies our mission to continuously innovate and cements our position as the pacesetter for data-driven sales and marketing outreach.”


Tomorrow I will wrap up my discussion of the acquisition with an overview of Streaming Intent and Clickagy’s approach to data privacy.

Outreach, Cognism, Drift, Alyce, and Sendoso Make LinkedIn’s Top Startups List

Five vendors covered in my newsletters and blog made LinkedIn’s Top 50 US or Top 10 UK startups list, an indicator to the economic vibrancy of SalesTech and MarTech solutions, particularly during the pandemic.

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach placed #6 in the US, its second year making the list.

“We work hard to be a great place to work and to create an environment where [the] top talent of any background feels welcome and can thrive,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.  “We’re always looking for passionate, tenacious employees who think differently and live and breathe our core value of having each other’s backs. I’m thrilled that we continue to attract the best of the best, and LinkedIn named us one of the top startups in the US.”

Outreach focused on “emerging and resilient startups that are navigating the ever-evolving nature of work in the wake of COVID-19.” The firm also focused on delivering sales management tools during the pandemic, helping “leaders closely monitor their team’s success and keep employees motivated and productive.”

Cognism that was named a top 10 UK Startup to Watch, placing at Number 9.  The firm which, was founded in 2015, has performed well during the pandemic and recently acquired German signature-block messaging firm Mailtastic.  They have already opened a UK Mailtastic office and closed their first UK deals.

According to CEO James Isilay, “We have just made a key hire in the US and will be expanding the offering there from October.”

Following a staff survey, Cognism will be moving to a smaller office presence and emphasize WFH options.

“Despite a challenging year with the pandemic, Cognism has continued its strong growth recently passing the key $10 million ARR mark,” wrote CEO James Isilay. “We see growth accelerating next year as we bring our go-to-market intelligence and engagement platform to new markets across Europe.”

Two tactile marketing companies, Alyce (35) and Sendoso (46), made the list.  Both firms positioned direct mail e-gifting as a method to connect with customers and prospects during the pandemic.

“While many companies and entire industries were dramatically impacted by the pandemic, the need to create personal bonds as the world moved almost fully digital in the age of no major trade shows, events, and public networking became ever more paramount,” wrote Alyce. “Alyce actually thrived as a company, and swiftly pivoted to deliver digital gifts for their enterprise customers looking to create personal experience moments for their audience.  Despite the market shifts, Alyce has experienced a milestone year of growth, with a vast percentage of its Annual Recurring Revenue (AAR) coming from its enterprise customer base and new use-case expansion, more than 5x-ing over last year.”

Conversational Marketing firm Drift, which recently broadened its vision to Revenue Acceleration, landed at #21 on the list.  Drift offers chatbots, email, video, and a new Prospector service for intent monitoring.

Firms were based upon four criteria: employee growth; jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from LinkedIn’s Top Companies list.  Startups must be no more than seven years old and have at least 50 employees.

Outreach KAIA Meeting Assistant

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach presented its 2020 product roadmap at its Unleash virtual conference.  The most compelling announcement was Kaia, its voice-enabled sales assistant that works alongside sales reps during video calls to record, transcribe, and deliver real-time assistance.  Other new capabilities include Sequence Intent Reporting, Outreach Voice Connectors, and Bombora Intent Scores.

“I’ve been waiting five years for Outreach Kaia.  This is the most powerful tool to be introduced in the sales industry in a long time, and we are very excited to be bringing the next generation of sales technology to life,” crowed Outreach CEO Manny Medina, who demoed the digital assistant during his keynote.  “Now more than ever, sales teams need Outreach Kaia — especially when so many of them are working remotely.  Outreach Kaia’s ability to surface real-time information exactly when a sales rep needs it during a live conversation is powerful.”

“Imagine you’re on a sales call, and someone asks you a question about your product or your competitor’s pricing, and you don’t know the answer.  Well, Outreach Kaia will automatically pull up the information you need – in real-time.  This level of intelligent assistance will make sales teams productive immediately.  Outreach already drives a nearly 5x return for our customers.  Now, with Outreach Kaia, we expect that ROI to soar.”

Outreach CEO Manny Medina

Kaia (Knowledge AI Assistant) delivers guided engagement for sales reps.  At the outset, reps are shown meeting and attendee information.  Tabs provide additional details on the account and opportunity, providing a quick pre-meeting review opportunity.  As the call gets underway, real-time transcription and analysis take place so that reps do not need to jot many notes during the call.  At any point, the rep can set a bookmark or add a short note.  As the note is stored in context, it might only require a word or two (e.g. Roadblock, Budget).  

Outreach Kaia operates as a real-time intelligent assistant that supports sales reps during customer calls. It transcribes the call, sets bookmarks for review, notes attendees and action items, and provides topical summary cards.

Kaia both records and analyzes the discussion, providing in-line prompts to the rep, such as a quick overview of a third-party mentioned during the call, short answers to technical and product questions, or objection handling tips.  The answers and objection handling are customer-defined, ensuring that company-specific details are displayed on a just-in-time basis.  Not only does each content card provide a technical and product backstop for new sales reps, but it allows experienced reps to speak with confidence on more technical details or dynamic topics from which they might shy away.

Content and people cards are trackable, “so managers can see which cards produce the best results and scale these insights across their teams,” wrote Product Storyteller Sunny Bjerk.

Kaia also notes action items during the call, again relieving reps of note-taking duties.  After the call, a summary is emailed to the rep with a set of action items, bookmarks, notes, and attendees.  The rep can then customize the document and share it with other stakeholders.

Kaia is displayed as a meeting participant, with attendees alerted at the beginning of the call that is it being recorded.  Transcripts and recordings are “securely stored within Outreach, which has enterprise-grade security measures already in place.”  Transcripts are available for training or review after the call.

Outreach Kaia is available for Early Access Signup for the summer 2020 beta and will be generally available in late 2020.  It is currently available for Zoom video conferencing with additional video partners in development.

Zoominfo Reaffirms IPO Plans

I have put together a detailed analysis of Zoominfo as it prepares for its IPO. The analysis is based upon twenty years of experience in the Sales & Marketing Intelligence Space, the past eight as an independent analyst.

Topics include an Overview, COVID Impact, Risks, Market Overview, Key Industry Trends, Content & Functionality, Growth Strategy Analysis, SWOT Analysis, and Key Events. The 100+ slide presentation is bundled with a phone consult. If you are interested in licensing the analysis, please contact me.

I also publish a weekly subscription newsletter which covers Sales & Marketing, B2B DaaS, and B2B Data. Here is my article on the planned IPO:


Zoominfo reaffirmed its plans to IPO, possibly launching a virtual roadshow next month.  In Q1 2020, revenue nearly doubled to $102 million year-over-year.  The firm also significantly reduced its losses to $5.9 million in Q1 compared to $40.2 million in Q1 2019.  

Losses were driven by debt, much of it associated with the Zoom Information acquisition in February 2019.  EBITDA rose 55%, year-over-year, to $51 million in Q1.  At the end of Q1, long-term debt stood at $1,238.8 million.

Zoominfo included Annualized Contract Value (ACV) data in its amended prospectus.  They likely wanted to emphasize that they are doing well during the recession, and revenue figures, which are a trailing indicator of sales success at subscription services, were not going to make that case as strongly as the ACV data.

ACV grew 87% year-over-year in April, with the customer base now above 15,000.  As revenue is recognized over the life of a subscription contract, ACV increases precede revenue growth.  Prepaid subscription revenue is displayed as a Balance Sheet liability that is reversed over the lifetime of each deal.  

Paid users rose to 202,000.

Net ACV growth remains strong, with ACV increasing $9.9 million in March and $10.4 million in April.  The April growth was their best first month of any quarter, surpassing October 2019 by ten percent.

The number of customers with ACV greater than or equal to $100,000 grew from 580 on December 31, 2019, to 630 on March 31, 2020.  Over 25% of ACV is tied to multi-year contracts.

The size and date of the IPO were not disclosed.  In February, a placeholder value of $500 million was provided.  The Zoominfo NASDAQ ticker will be ZI.

“Because of our largely subscription-based business model, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fully reflected in our results of operations and overall financial condition until future periods, if at all.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

As the original S-1 was released before COVID-19 hit the US, this week’s amended prospectus contained the first mention of COVID as a business risk.  The pandemic has disrupted global business and could negatively impact Zoominfo’s stock price.  Zoominfo listed retail, restaurants, hospitality, airlines, oil, and gas as affected industries.  While none of these segments are part of their ICP (except for possibly their NeverBounce email verification subsidiary), they will be negatively impacted in recruitment (roughly ten percent of revenue) and event management.  Zoominfo lists recruitment as a targeted job function for ongoing development.

Furthermore, Zoominfo’s strategy is to expand beyond its moat of technology firms into broader sales intelligence and marketing services.  The recession reduces the number of favorable segments for executing this expansion strategy.

Zoominfo lists its Total Addressable Market (TAM) at $24 billion with a 2% penetration rate.

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect we will experience slowed growth or decline in new customer demand for our platform and lower demand from our existing customers for upgrades within our platform, as well as existing and potential customers reducing or delaying purchasing decisions.”

Zoominfo Amended S-1, May 11, 2020

A secondary impact of the pandemic and subsequent recession is increased buyer negotiating power.  Customers are expecting more significant discounts and more favorable contract terms.  They are also asking for early contract terminations and waivers of payment obligations.

However, Zoominfo’s core business is reasonably well protected from the recession.  In 2019, 39% of their ACV was generated in the software industry and 29% in business services.  These segments are less exposed than retail, travel, hospitality, and energy.  Software has heavily shifted to subscription models over the past few years, making revenue less volatile.  While their core industries are subject to layoffs in revenue operations, Zoominfo offers multiple features that make sales and marketing more efficient and effective in reaching WFH buying committee members.  Features and content sets that support WFH outreach include direct-dial and mobile numbers, org charts, deep contacts across the organization, data as a service for enriching and updating enterprise software platforms, the ReachOut Chrome plug-in, ICP/TAM tools, technographics, Scoops (sales triggers), Bombora intent data, and executive change alerts.  

New services such as Form Complete (web forms), WebSights (visitor intelligence), Komiko InboxAI (email insights), and Workflows (triggered sequences) help with collecting and enriching activity data.

Zoominfo, which has significant operations in Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Israel, has fully transitioned to remote employment.  They have also implemented travel restrictions and shifted to virtual event marketing.


Continue on to a post-IPO follow-up article.