Bloomfire, an Austin-based startup attempting to create a better way for businesses to capture, save, display and share information, announced today that it has raised $8 million in series A financing led by Austin Ventures and Redpoint Ventures.
The new funding, which brings the company’s total investment to $18 million, comes on the heels of a solid year of growth for Bloomfire, in which the startup crossed 250 paying customers (including Bechtel and Etsy, for example) and 65,000 active users.
Founded in early 2010, Bloomfire has come to classify itself as a “knowledge sharing platform,” which is a vague way of saying that the company provides businesses with a platform that allows them to store, share and consume critical knowledge and information in the cloud, on mobile devices and social networks — picking and choosing according to their specific needs. In other words, the startup’s web-based SaaS platform creates an internal network through which employees can create and post content, search and browse for relevant information, ask and answer critical questions, along with finding and following those with expertise around a given subject.
In the big picture, while sales may be booming again in the enterprise content management market, judging by what customers are saying on user forums, these players are still failing to provide the kind of “consumerized” feel and features that are now standard in business apps like Yammer and Salesforce.
For example, earlier this week, Microsoft announced SharePoint 2013, but IDG (among others) find the product lacking, particularly because it still fails to offer an easy extension to mobile phones and continues to lack those now-critical enterprise social-networking features. Recognizing gaps in its social media capabilities is precisely what led Microsoft to acquire Yammer for a whopping $1.2 billion.
Against this backdrop, Bloomfire wants to combine the best of enterprise content and knowledge sharing platforms with a sticky, social interface and enterprise social media functionality. In tandem with its new funding, the company is also today unveiling the next version of its platform, which adds a number of tools and features designed to simplify the process of posting and sharing multimedia content, access to realtime Q&As along with other types of social engagement.
For example, the new platform now allows group of users to create a single piece of content (like a post, for example) and more easily add third-party (or external) content to Bloomfire’s network via drag-and-drop functionality, along with adding integrations with Android, iOS and LinkedIn, for example.
In explaining why Austin Ventures decided to re-up its investment in Bloomfire, Chris Pacitti tells us that “the way people discover, consume and share information has fundamentally shifted,” opening the door for a new generation of companies to fill the gaps that Sharepoint, Documentum and ArborText are currently scrambling to fill.
And, certainly, Bloomfire has plenty of competitors to deal with in the big picture, as startups like Socialcast and Yammer allow employees to create social profiles and quickly share information and posts in realtime with colleagues. In turn, Jive offers a host of enterprise-level project collaboration tools, Box.net offers storage, and a number of startups focus on providing businesses with internal Q&A capabilities.
Analysts are predicting that it’s just a matter of time before the incumbents and entrenched players catch up, and there’s likely to be a continued blending of these various services and point solutions going forward. To this point, most have opted to focus and specialize on a particular rung of the value chain, but Bloomfire is rolling the dice on the horizontal approach, hoping to differentiate by becoming an end-to-end solution and by trying to bring the simple, design-centric user interfaces of consumer services (like Dropbox and Pinterest) to internal business communications.
For more, find Bloomfire at home here.