Aiming At Small Business And Headed By Ex-Yahoo Head, NumberFour De-Cloaks In Berlin With A $38M Series A, Europe’s Biggest In Two Years

NumberFour, founded in 2009 by former senior Yahoo executive Marco Boerries in Berlin to re-engineer small business processes, has secured an enormous $38 million in Series A financing led by Index Ventures, specifically Mike Volpi. Volpi Participating in the round is Allen&Co, T-Venture/Deutsche Telekom, Andreas von Bechtolsheim, former Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Klaus Hommels and Lars Hinrichs among others. Unusually, the company has remained almost completely quiet since its foundation four years ago. It will obviously compete against a number of players, not least Salesforce among them.

Also participating in the round was German entrepreneur Andy Bechtolsheim who co-founded Sun Microsystems and Simon Levene, a former partner of Accel Partners, and executive at Excite@Home and Yahoo!.

Perhaps oddly, its business platform and apps are not yet publicly available. The company said “an announcement will follow at an appropriate time.” The startup is producing apps on smartphones, tablets and PCs. It has offices in Berlin, Hamburg, Germany and Palo Alto, California.

The round is Europe’s biggest in the last two years since Rovio raised $42m in 2011. Out of the largest Series A rounds in the last few years, Spotify raised $21.6m in 2008 and iZettle raised $11.2m in 2011 (also led by Index Ventures).

NumberFour’s long-in-the-tooth history is in marked contrast to many other businesses that raise similar rounds, such as the ill-fated Color which, with $41m to play with, rushed out a widely-derided product.
Colour’s Peter Pham recently revealed that he was pushed to get a product out along with the funding announcement and that it simply wasn’t ready. A salutary tale.

NumberFour says it has a platform that provides productivity, communication, sales, production, procurement, delivery, reservation and financial tools for offline and online businesses. Boerries’ vision is that in the future, most small businesses should have the efficiencies and scale effects that large enterprises enjoy. Why NumberFour? It’s his fourth company, as I explain below.

In statements, Boerries said: “I deeply care about enabling small businesses to become more competitive and successful. Having started four businesses myself, I know how hard and rewarding it can be at the same time. Small is beautiful!”

Mike Volpi, Partner, Index Ventures said: “From a technology perspective, small businesses are the most underserved market in the world. NumberFour is the first comprehensive business platform that offers amazing technology, wrapped in apps with a stunningly simple user interface.”

Klaus Hommels an investor in NumberFour said: “NumberFour combines huge market potential, scale effects and passion – paired with the powerful and meticulous leadership of one of the best and most experienced entrepreneurs. It is a truly special opportunity.” Klaus Hommels is one of Europe’s leading business angels and has invested in Skype, Facebook, Xing and Spotify, among others.

Lars Hinrichs, Founder of XING and investor stated, “NumberFour has the potential to become the leader for small business software, a multi-billion opportunity. Marco is a successful serial entrepreneur and has proven multiple times that he can make big ideas work.” Hinrichs founded LinkedIn competitor Xing and is now best known for founding the startup accelerator HackFwd.

Inspired by a high school visit to Silicon Valley as an exchange student Borries founded Star Division out of his family garage Lüneburg . There here developed the software StarWriter which became StarOffice and later developed into OpenOffice, as an alternative to the office suites from Microsoft. In 1999 he sold eventually StarDivision to Sun Microsystems, where he stayed briefly.

His Hamburg-based Star Financial created StarMoney and developed into a major supplier of home banking software. In early 2001, he sold his shares and founded founded Borries VerdiSoft.

This developed software for the Yahoo! Go mobile product and was picked up by Yahoo in 2005, where Borries became executive vice president in the Connected Life division, until he left in to 2009.

It was after this that he returned first to Hamburg and then moved to Berlin to start NumberFour (fourth after StarOffice, StarMoney and VerdiSoft).

The full press release is here.