InsideSales, a predictive analytics platform which helps salespeople focus on finding and engaging prospects at the right time and in the right way, announced a $50 million round today with a couple of strategic investors — Microsoft and the Irish government.
The round was led by Polaris Capital, a long time investor, along with newcomers QuestMark Partners, and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, the venture funding arm of the Irish government. Existing investors Microsoft, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Hummer Winblad, U.S. Venture Partners, Epic Ventures and Zetta Venture Partners also participated. With today’s investment, the company has raised over $250 million.
While CEO Dave Elkington wouldn’t say what the current valuation was, he told TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden during the March, 2015 funding round announcement, that the value was “north of $1 billion.” He added, that today’s round was flat or nominally up from previous rounds, so you can draw your own conclusions.
InsideSales is built on an artificial intelligence platform that uses Neuralytics, which the company describes a “a predictive and prescriptive self-learning engine.” The idea is to give sales personnel information on when and how to contact a prospect with the goal, of course, of increasing sales.
While Elkington was clearly pleased by the cash infusion, he seemed most enamored by the strategic investors. He said he wasn’t really looking for additional money, but while visiting Ireland, which has an active tech ecosystem, the government introduced him to a number of key stakeholders. The more they talked, the more it looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and the round began to take shape.
Meanwhile, the company had also been working on deepening their partnership with Microsoft, which invested in the 2015 round (along with rival Salesforce, which led that round). Lo and behold, before they knew it, Microsoft wanted to be included this time too. Polaris began to pull the whole thing together and when all was said and done, they had a cool $50 million.
The Irish government investment has the potential to give them entree into Europe, a prospect that intrigued Elkington. The company is also getting access to an untapped pool of data scientists in Ireland’s academic institutions along with sales talent and the ability to build a strong presence in Ireland.
As for Microsoft, which is coming back for a second turn, he says they can open a lot of doors for a startup like InsideSales, providing them with access to Microsoft’s product, go-to-market and partner and alliance teams, giving his company the kind of reach it could never get on its own.
The obvious question is where does the company go from here? Elkington balked at the idea of an acquisition by Microsoft or anyone else, although the deepening partnership certainly begged the question. He also downplayed the idea of an IPO, but said that obviously at some point he wants to return the investment of his employees and investors.
“We want something that creates value in the economy. We are not bent around the axle about going public, but we want to make sure people who have trusted us [will be] rewarded for that,” he said. That would suggest some sort of exit, at some point down the road.