Jul
13
2021
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Product-led sales startup Endgame raises over $17M

Endgame, enabling software companies to turn customer observations into go-to-market strategies, announced Tuesday it raised a total of $17 million in back-to-back seed and Series A funding rounds.

The $12.25 million Series A was led by Menlo Ventures, while the $5 million seed round was led by Upfront Ventures. Also participating in the round are a group of investors including Todd and Rahul’s Fund, Liquid 2 Ventures and Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta.

Los Angeles-based Endgame was founded in 2020 and provides a self-service look at what’s happening in a software trial so that a sales team can prioritize accounts based on user behavior signals and act on them faster without having to be a data scientist or engineer.

Company CEO Alex Bilmes told TechCrunch that the concepts of product-led sales and product-led growth have taken over the sale of software. Today’s customers sign up for a trial, and if they like it, they invite their friends to try it.

However, at a certain point, some sales pressure is needed to close the deal. That’s where Endgame comes in: It shows who is doing what, and what features are being used — data that is typically opaque to sales and revenue teams.

Traditional customer relationship management systems are designed to be rep-driven, meaning the sales rep is responsible for adding notes. It’s simpler if a rep only has a few accounts, but across tens of millions of users, Endgame analyzes the data and identifies which accounts are most likely to convert, who are the users to engage, what makes a good customer and how to take action with the right people.

Endgame is not competing against other companies so much as in-house developers that are cobbling a bunch of apps together in efforts to create a system that works for them, Bilmes said.

“Most of this is solved with do-it-yourself,” he added. “I have built Endgame a number of times at other companies using databases and other piece-meals to put together something so I could mash data from lots of places and build subscriptive views for revenue teams. We compete with those data scientists and internal teams stitching together horizontal tools.”

Endgame is pre-revenue and is already catering to a group of beta customers like Figma, Loom, Airtable, Clubhouse, Mode, Retool and Algolia that are looking for a dedicated software platform to capture product-led value.

Bilmes said the customer relationship management market, both huge and fast-growing at 35% annually, is expected to reach $114 billion by 2027. To meet demand, he intends to use the new funds to continue hiring aggressively. He has already tripled the size of the team to nine in the past few months, and expects to double that in the coming year. In addition, funds will go toward R&D and to further define the product-led sales landscape.

Growth over the next year will be customer-focused as Endgame works to get into the hands of the right customers and making it as accessible as possible for people to begin doing product-led motions.

“Our efforts are product-focused,” Bilmes said. “We’ve seen more demand than we can possibly hope to fill given the problem is so real for so many.”

As part of the investment, Upfront Ventures Partner Kara Nortman and Menlo Ventures Partner Naomi Ionita will join Endgame’s board of directors. Sandhya Hegde, partner at Unusual Ventures, which also participated in both rounds, joins as a board observer to create an all-women investor board.

When Endgame was raising its seed fund, it wanted to work with Nortman, who has expertise in applying consumer concepts to enterprise, Bilmes said. When it came to the Series A, Bilmes said he felt Ionita was the perfect partner due to her similar background to Bilmes and expertise in teaching salespeople how to engage.

Ionita told TechCrunch she learned about Endgame from Nortman, with whom she has invested in other startups. The company understands the pain point and is for companies that offer a self-service version for the “why and how.”

“This intelligence doesn’t exist, and I know that because I lived it — building in-house or seeing companies flying blind,” she added. “Alex just gets this, and I see Endgame being the system of record and intelligence for bridging self-serve. They will be the final bridge that needs to exist between product teams and product-facing sales reps for which accounts to address and why.”

 

Nov
30
2020
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Vista acquires Gainsight for $1.1B, adding to its growing enterprise arsenal

Vista Equity Partners hasn’t been shy about scooping up enterprise companies over the years, and today it added to a growing portfolio with its purchase of Gainsight. The company’s software helps clients with customer success, meaning it helps create a positive customer experience when they interact with your brand, making them more likely to come back and recommend you to others. Sources pegged the price tag at $1.1 billion.

As you might expect, both parties are putting a happy face on the deal, talking about how they can work together to grow Gainsight further. Certainly, other companies like Ping Identity seem to have benefited from joining forces with Vista. Being part of a well-capitalized firm allowed them to make some strategic investments along the way to eventually going public last year.

Gainsight and Vista are certainly hoping for a similar outcome in this case. Monti Saroya, co-head of the Vista Flagship Fund and senior managing director at the firm, sees a company with a lot of potential that could expand and grow with help from Vista’s consulting arm, which helps portfolio companies with different aspects of their business like sales, marketing and operations.

“We are excited to partner with the Gainsight team in its next phase of growth, helping the company to expand the category it has created and deliver even more solutions that drive retention and growth to businesses across the globe,” Saroya said in a statement.

Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta likes the idea of being part of Vista’s portfolio of enterprise companies, many of whom are using his company’s products.

“We’ve known Vista for years, since 24 of their portfolio companies use Gainsight. We’ve seen Gainsight clients like JAMF and Ping Identity partner with Vista and then go public. We believe we are just getting started with customer success, so we wanted the right partner for the long term and we’re excited to work with Vista on the next phase of our journey,” Mehta told TechCrunch.

Brent Leary, principle analyst at CRM Essentials, who covers the sales and marketing space, says that it appears that Vista is piecing together a sales and marketing platform that it could flip or go public in a few years.

“It’s not only the power that’s in the platform, it’s also the money. And Vista seems to be piecing together an engagement platform based on the acquisitions of Gainsight, Pipedrive and even last year’s Acquia purchase. Vista isn’t afraid to spend big money, if they can make even bigger money in a couple years if they can make these pieces fit together,” Leary told TechCrunch.

While Gainsight exits as a unicorn, the deal might not have been the outcome it was looking for. The company raised more than $187 million, according to PitchBook data, though its fundraising had slowed in recent years. Gainsight raised $50 million in April of 2017 at a post-money valuation of $515 million, again per PitchBook. In July of 2018 it added $25 million to its coffers, and the final entry was a small debt investment raised in 2019.

It could be that the startup saw its growth slow down, leaving it somewhere between ready for new venture investment and profitability. That’s a gap that PE shops like Vista look for, write a check, shake up a company and hopefully exit at an elevated price.

Gainsight hired a new chief revenue officer last month, notably. Per Forbes, the company was on track to reach “about” $100 million ARR by the end of 2020, giving it a revenue multiple of around 11x in the deal. That’s under current market norms, which could imply that Gainsight had either lower gross margins than comparable companies, or as previously noted, that its growth had slowed.

A $1.1 billion exit is never something to bemoan — and every startup wants to become a unicorn — but Gainsight and Mehta are well known, and we were hoping for the details only an S-1 could deliver. Perhaps one day with Vista’s help that could happen.

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