Zuora Aims To Be Salesforce for Online Billing; Benioff Agrees

Zuora, the SaaS startup run by industry veterans from Salesforce and Webex, and backed by the face of SaaS himself, Marc Benioff, is launching its online billing solution today.

As Erick explained in March, Zuora aims to alleviate the need for online businesses to develop their own billing systems, especially to handle recurring payments like those associated with subscriptions.

Its so-called “Z-Billing Platform” that goes live today handles four main billing-related areas: customer accounts and subscriptions, product catalogs, billing operations, and order management. The whole offering is provided a la Salesforce as an on-demand solution. Online businesses just need to configure their Zuora accounts, import data from their old billing systems, and plug in their sites through a set of APIs. Customers who buy items or subscribe to services on their sites will then get handled by Zuora, which tracks orders, invoices and payments.

Naturally, Zuora has opted for a utility-like pricing model. The company will take 2% of all invoiced amounts, with that percentage increasing decreasing as payments get bigger and eventually getting capped completely for particularly expensive items.

The startup has already signed up six clients, three of which have implemented the system, but only one of which has been disclosed: Coremetrics, which provides Omniture-like web analytics. CEO Tien Tzuo says that Coremetrics demonstrates the capabilities of Zuora’s billing system particularly well because it requires 27 different pricing models, each of which must be handled appropriately.

Since the founders of Zuora come from a SaaS background, you can expect them to partner initially with other SaaS companies. However, the platform is not limited to this category; it potentially can be implemented for a wide range of services from music streaming to online dating.