Hearsay Social, a startup offering for reaching sales leads and customers on social networks, is announcing that it has raised $30 million in Series C funding.
CTO Steve Garrity told me Hearsay has had “a fantastic year” (more on that in a second), and the company raised the round to further accelerate growth, particularly by hiring to expand the product development, customer support, and sales teams. And since the funding came from Hearsay’s existing investors (the round was led by Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates), it was a quick fundraising process, he said.
Garrity and CEO Clara Shih (who’s also on the Starbucks board of directors) founded the company back in 2009. Initially, they emphasized the idea of helping large companies manage the social media presence of their local branches. Now, however, Hearsay describes itself as a “social selling platform” — among other things, it allows salespeople maintain their own social media presence, find relevant content to share, and monitor the “social signals” of people in their network.
“The vision has always been: How do we help businesses better connect to customers one-to-one [on social media],” Garrity said. A natural way to start doing that was to focus on things like compliance and training. Over time, he said, it made sense to move into helping businesses “sell socially.”
Garrity added that he still doesn’t see any direct competitors. There are a lot of companies offering social media tools for businesses, but none of them are trying to do exactly what Hearsay is doing. Some of them are focused on compliance, for example, but Garrity argued that compliance without other tools is like having a car with “a great set of brakes but no engine and no steering wheel.”
He also touted the fact that in a company study, 64 percent of Hearsay customers said they’d used the platform to both generate new leads and build stronger customer relationships.
As for the recent growth, Hearsay isn’t releasing revenue numbers, but it did say that it has doubled its customer base in the past year, adding “dozens” of new customers including Raymond James, Mutual of Omaha, Bank of the West, Nationwide Insurance, Allianz Global Investors, Wunderlich Securities, and Modern Woodmen of America. It also opened a London office a few months ago as the first step in its European expansion.
Hearsay Social has now raised a total of $51 million.