Gigya Grabs $15.3M From Benchmark, Adobe To “Socialize” Your Business

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On the Web, it’s all about engagement. Site owners, administrators, content producers, eCommerce companies — and everyone in between — are constantly trying to find better ways to keep their customers engaged and interacting with their content and products. With the share-pocalypse at hand, brands big and small have to find ways to better utilize and harness social media in their content, customer relation, and marketing strategies. Do this, or get left behind — it’s the directive of eBusiness in the era of Facebook and Twitter.

As businesses catch on to the fact that social is not a trend but a way of doing business, Gigya is looking to help them navigate this “socialization” and what it means for their business. To help it in its own quest, the startup is today announcing that it has raised $15.3 million in venture capital, bringing its total to just under $45 million.

New investor Advance Publication, which publishes more than 125 paper and digital publications through Conde Nast, and Adobe joined a field of previous investors as part of the new round, including Mayfield Fund, Benchmark Capital, and DAG Ventures.

Over the past year, Gigya has been growing fast. It now has over 500 customers, its technology is reaching more than one billion unique users per month, and the startups sales more than tripled YOY, with the average deal size doubling. Its revenues are growing in kind, and CEO Patrick Salyer says this raise wasn’t for extra cash flow. Right now, it’s all about scaling.

While social media management (think Buddy, Vitrue, Hootsuite, etc.) is a bit more mature, Salyer thinks social infrastructure is still emerging. So, for competitive reasons, he remained tight-lipped about revenues, but did say Gigya expects sales to triple again in 2012 and is seeing encouraging trends in cash and revenues.

That can sound like marketing drek, but Gigya is now working with 40 of the top 100 web properties in the U.S. and is expanding its presence into Europe, recently opening new headquarters in London and attracting customers like the London Evening Standard, The Independent, and Goal.com.

With its new funding, “We’re looking to turn on the heat,” Salyer tells us, expanding its 120-person staff by an additional 50 or 60 heads over the coming months.

“There’s not a company out there that doesn’t think they have to implement a social strategy,” or boost what they’ve already got, the Gigya CEO said. There’s a reason Salesforce and Oracle have stepped up their acquisition strategies when it comes to social solutions, and Salyer sees this as validation for Gigya’s business.

“They’re not buying these companies for their revenues or for their teams — although that’s a part of it — they’re buying them to integrate their solutions into their existing products, to begin offering them to their clients immediately,” he says.

Just for a bit of background for those unfamiliar, Gigya offers an all-in-one-place SaaS solution, providing businesses with social infrastructure that lets them make their sites social. In other words, businesses can use Gigya’s suite of plug-ins to tie their own social profiles and their users’ social graphs into their websites. The startup offers plug-ins for comments, ratings, reviews, live chats, and news feeds, etc. that integrate with social log-ins, sharing, and gamification tools to let businesses consolidate and offer a more social experience in one fell swoop.

The startup counts brands like ABC, CBS, Pepsi, Verizon, Home Depot, White Castle, and PlayStation as current customers, and Salyer says that with the average enterprise company spending $300 or $400K on social initiatives (and growing), there’s still a big market (and a sizable share) left to capture.

The CEO says that, when it comes to these social initiatives, media sites and their product managers were the first to get on board, followed by consumer brands (the Pepsis and Cokes of the world). eCommerce companies were slower to adopt, but the CEO says that, on a percentage basis, they’ve seen eCommerce adoption really hockey stick over the last nine months.

Over the last six-odd months, the startup has been adding to its social infrastructure suite with functionality like Social Identity Management and Social Gamification to let businesses enable registration through social login, increase engagement through plug-ins and differentiate marketing approaches by leveraging permission-based social identity data.

And, going forward, Gigya is going to be accelerating its efforts to bring these technologies to eCommerce companies, which are accelerating their own social strategies.

Gamification is also becoming a bigger part of both SMB and enterprise social strategy, for eCommerce companies and beyond. Gartner Research estimates that more than 70 percent of “Global 2000″ organizations will have a gamified app by 2015. The players in the gamification space are finding plenty of funding to fuel their fires as the space heats up, as startups like Badgeville are going deep with cloud-based gamification suites.

Salyer said, that while Gigya will be competing with companies like Badgeville in the gamification department, he thinks they’ve got a leg up because they can attract them with gamified solutions yet give them the whole top-down social infrastructure on top.

It’s a smart play, and we’ll see if businesses continue to buy it.

For more, find Gigya here.