Mar
21
2018
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Clari raises $35M for its AI-based sales platform, expands into marketing and supply chain management

Clari — a startup that has built a predictive sales tool that provides just-in-time assistance for sales people close deals and for those who work in the bigger chain of command to monitor the progress of the sales operation — is capitalising on the big boom in interest for all things AI in the business world. The company is today announcing that it has closed a Series B round of $35 million, funding that it will be using to build out its own sales and marketing team and expand its platform capabilities.

The round was led by Tenaya Capital, the VC fund that started its life as a part of Lehman Brothers, along with participation from other new investors Thomvest Ventures and Blue Cloud Ventures, and previous investors Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures and Northgate Capital. It brings the total raised by Clari to $61 million.

Andy Byrne, the founder and CEO who is a repeat entrepreneur and has been involved in several exits, said the funding closed “definitely at an upround, and much bigger than we thought it was going to be,” but declined to give a number. For some context, Clari, according to Pitchbook, had a relatively modest post-money valuation of $83.5 million in its last round in 2014, so my guess is that it’s now comfortably into hundred-million territory, once you add in this latest $35 million.

The funding comes at an interesting time for AI startups, particularly those aimed at enterprise IT.

When Clari first emerged from stealth in April 2014, the idea of applying AI to solve pain points for non-technical people in organizations was a fairly nascent and still-novel concept.

Fast forward to today, things have moved very fast, as is often the case in the tech world. Now, you can’t seem to move for all the enterprise IT startups that are either using or claiming to use AI in their solutions. There are so many startup hopefuls, and so many organizations looking for the best way to use AI to improve their business and operations, that there are even startups being founded to manage that opportunity of connecting the two pieces together, such as Element AI.

“I’m not saying we were clairvoyant for targeting the idea of using AI for sales in 2013,” Byrne said. “There has been a large macro trend and if you happen to be a small company that is along for the ride. When we first launched, we had this thesis about AI for sales. Now it’s not the number three or two priority for sales teams, it’s number one. It’s everywhere. Businesses want to invest and spend more money on AI and making things more efficient.”

Clari says that its customer base has tripled in the last year, with customers including Adobe, Audi, Check Point Software, Equinix, Epicor Software Corporation, GE, and PerkinElmer.

Clari’s approach for using AI for the sales team comes in two main areas. First, the company’s system is aimed to reduce some of the busywork that salespeople have in maintaining and updating files on people, by bringing in a number of different data sources and using them to provide composite pictures of target companies that salespeople might have had to otherwise compile with more manual means. Second, Clari puts a lot of focus on its “Opportunity-to-Close (OTC) solutions” — a type of risk-analysis for salespeople and their managers to help them figure out which leads and strategic directly would be the most likely to produce sales.

“Working with Clari since inception, we have been impressed with its growth and strong execution,” said Aaref Hilaly, Partner at Sequoia Capital, in a statement. “Clari has fast become indispensable to many of the most successful sales teams, giving them visibility into their most important metrics: rep productivity, pipeline health, and forecast accuracy.”

Indeed, risk and outcome is a smart area to be in: using AI to help model this is a key area of focus in enterprise IT at the moment, according to feedback I’ve had from a number of others in the enterprise world.

“If you have 150 opportunities presented to you as a salesperson, how do you choose 10 where you should spend your time?” Byrne asked. “A more traditional CRM platform has never showcased your risk and outcomes.”

While up to now Clari has focused on providing intelligence on what is already in a company’s account database, the next step, Byrne noted, is to draw on data from around the web, providing completely new business leads to the sales team.

When we last covered a funding round for Clari, we noted that the company’s laser focus on sales was something that made the company stand out for investors: nailing one aspect of a business’s operations without distractions from other parts of the organization and what it could be spending time solving elsewhere (in fact, when you think about it, the very goal that Clari has been aiming to achieve for salespeople through its product).

But four years on, the company is now widening that ambition. It’s applying its AI engine now to help marketeers weigh up the best opportunities for reaching out to prospective customers; and interestingly it sounds like it will also be applying its engine to product development and specifically supply chain management.

Byrne described one customer, a medical device maker, that was encountering “inefficiencies” around what they should build and when to meet market demand. “Now that they can predict and forecast order bookings and revenue targets, and what’s happened is that their supply chain has become more efficient,” he said. “It is great example of how our AI is now being expanded.”

“The Clari team has leveraged its deep AI expertise to build a unique platform that surfaces predictive insights for sales reps, managers, and execs during the opportunity-to-close process,” said Brian Paul, MD at Tenaya Capital, in a statement. “We see a massive opportunity for AI to transform how sales teams operate which is clearly validated by Clari’s customers and the impressive growth the team has achieved.”

Jan
17
2018
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Google and Salesforce unveil first elements of partnership

 Last fall at Dreamforce, Google and Salesforce announced a partnership. Today, the two companies unveiled the first pieces of that agreement. For starters, Google Analytics 360 users can now import data from the Salesforce CRM tool such as leads and opportunities, among other pieces. This could allow marketers to have a more complete view of the customer journey from first contact to sale… Read More

Sep
13
2017
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Apttus scores $55M as it closes in on an IPO

 Apttus, the unicorn quote-to-cash vendor built on the Salesforce platform, announced a $55 million round, which is likely its final private investment on the way to an IPO. While CEO Kirk Krappe wouldn’t definitively confirm the company was going public, he did say that today’s round was about gaining the confidence of future investors. “We decided we needed a certain amount… Read More

Jul
12
2017
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Gong, an AI-based language tool to help sales and customer service reps, nabs $20M

 As artificial intelligence continues its spread into all aspects of computing, many believe that it will be the next big frontier in CRM. Today a startup called Gong.io underscores that trend: the Israeli startup, which has built a tool that uses natural language processing and machine learning to help train and suggest information to sales people and other customer service reps, has raised a… Read More

Jun
15
2017
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Highspot raises $15 million to perfect your sales pitch

 Salespeople have a lot of things to sell and the latest technology can help them sell even more. Do you think you have the perfect pitch? Highspot will tell you if you’re wrong. Or at least that’s their pitch. Highspot’s software analyzes various communications with prospective clients, including presentations, case studies and training videos. Then it provides data about… Read More

May
05
2017
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Growlabs nabs $2.2M to automate outbound sales

 Just six months into its life, Growlabs, a startup using machine intelligence to support outbound sales teams, has raised a $2.2 million seed round. Growlabs helps businesses reduce their customer acquisition costs by enabling smalls sales teams to do more with less. Read More

Mar
21
2017
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LinkedIn steps closer to CRM as it gives Sales Navigator an enterprise boost

 LinkedIn, the social network for the working world that is now owned by Microsoft, is quietly adding more features to fill out some of its bigger ambitions to provide more services to enterprises, tapping into its user base of more than 465 million professionals. The company is adding a new “enterprise” tier to its Sales Navigator product. Read More

Mar
02
2017
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Nimble lands $9 million Series A to simplify contact management in the cloud

Old rolodex. Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara has been around the contacts block a few times. He was the guy who founded Goldmine, the grandaddy of contact databases. For the last several years he has been working at Nimble, a startup with the goal of managing contacts info inside Office 365 and G Suite. Today, his company announced a $9 million Series A round.
The round was led by Imagen Capital Partners with… Read More

Feb
07
2017
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With a $16M Series A, Chorus.ai listens to your sales calls to help your team close deals

1960s 5 EXECUTIVE... Just about everyone can benefit from an extra ear listening in at the right time. And while an ear dedicated to helping me remember the items my housemate asked me to pickup at the store last week has yet to be commercialized into a startup, Chorus.ai is riffing off the concept to deliver a solution to help sales teams close more deals. The Chorus team is announcing a $16 million Series… Read More

Jul
15
2016
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Sales startup Immediately will shut down as team members join New Relic

immediately Immediately, a startup that built mobile sales tools, will be shutting down at the end of the month, while part of the team will move on to cloud-monitoring company New Relic. According to the official announcement, both the Immediately app (which offers a number of features, including phone logging and detecting when emails are opened) and the company’s Gong app (a “pocket… Read More

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