Brand Networks, a company offering tools for brands to market themselves on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and elsewhere, has raised $68 million in its first round of funding.
Founded in 2006, Brand Networks has been bootstrapped and profitable until now, said co-founder and CEO Jamie Tedford — with revenue growing by more than 100 percent every year since 2010. So why raise funding? Tedford said that with all the activity in social marketing — particularly all the big acquisitions — Brand Networks was left as one of the last big independents. As a result, he’s been getting a lot of interest from both potential acquirers and potential investors.
“We very quickly determined that we feel, to steal a phrase from Facebook, that we’re only 1 percent finished,” Tedford said. So the team decided to take on a big investment in order to pursue the larger opportunity, which includes expanding globally while continuing to improve the product. Brand Networks’ continued independence will provide a competitive advantage, Tedford added, because it can “go deeper with a smaller set of customers, versus to build a one-size-fits-all solution for big, medium and small markets.”
The funding comes from private-equity firm AEA Investors, which is taking two board seats and has also appointed Kurt Holstein, a former P&G executive and COO of digital agency Rosetta, as an independent board member.
In addition to announcing the funding, Brand Networks is launching what it calls its Social Marketing Stack. Tedford noted that the company is one of very few to receive all four Preferred Marketing Developer badges from Facebook, covering the four main areas of its product — social publishing, social apps, social analytics and social advertising. Tedford said that there are a number of “point providers” that tackle one of those areas, but for a company to address all of their social marketing needs, they’d normally have to work with multiple services, which can be particularly challenging from a data perspective.
With the Social Marketing Stack, Brand Networks is highlighting the fact that it can address all four needs in one place, and it’s also launching a unified dashboard for accessing each set of tools from one place.
Brand Networks didn’t start out as a social marketing platform (not surprising since it started seven years ago), but Tedford said social makes up most of the company’s business now. At the same time, he said that the term is no longer limited to campaigns and pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, but also encompasses building websites and mobile apps that integrate social in crucial ways.
“We’re on the verge of not necessarily talking about social in a vacuum,” Tedford said.