Community Monitoring + Analytics Go Large: Vision Critical Takes $20M From Omers

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Vision Critical, a Vancouver-based developer of online community panels and analytics for companies like Yahoo, Virgin, Rough Guides and Banana Republic and some 600 other brands, is today announcing a $20 million round of funding from OMERS Ventures. The funding, which brings total investment in Vision Critical up to $23 million, will be used to expand product lines, support infrastructure and expand globally, the company said.

This is the second time that the VC arm of the Canada-based OMERS pension fund has put $20 million into a Vancouver startup that helps enterprises manage their online experience: earlier this year it ploughed the same amount of money into Hootsuite.

Vision Critical’s previous round was for $3 million from Wellington Capital back in 2006. The company was founded in 2000.

That points to Vision Critical most likely having built a sustainable business on its own steam, although now it looks like it’s seizing the opportunity to grow as brands look for more online engagement with consumers and analytics around those relationships — something made possible by the rise of social media and users’ willingness to engage a lot more online than they have in the past.

“Demand for strategic customer and market research is surging, and online community panels are already established as the key to unlocking the tremendous power of the internet as a tool for two-way communications with consumers,” Vision Critical chairman Angus Reid said in a statement. “OMERS Ventures is strongly aligned with Vision Critical, sharing our entrepreneurial nature, aggressive growth strategy and long-term vision for the future of the market research industry.”

In addition to customer panels, Vision Critical also helps online brands manage surveys and online discussions, putting them into a single platform.