SimilarWeb raises $47M at valuation approaching $800M to take on Nielsen in digital market intel

Companies are increasingly dependent on digital platforms for their business growth, and that is giving a boost to analytics firms that are helping them make better sense of that digital landscape. SimilarWeb — which offers analytics and insights about the performance of websites and apps, as well as competitive intelligence about how other apps and sites are doing (covering 80 million websites and three million apps across more than 190 countries in all) — is today announcing a significant fundraise of $47 million. Or Offer, SimilarWeb’s CEO, said the funding will be used to continue building out its analytics, business development and acquisitions.

Offer and his CFO Jason Schwartz both said they would not comment on valuation. I understand that it is not quite double — but close to it — compared to the last round. The last round valued SimilarWeb at $400 million, so my educated guess is that this round has a post-money valuation approaching $800 million. “It’s getting close to being a unicorn,” a source close to the company said, referring to that $1 billion watermark that so many startups (or perhaps more their investors) are aiming to hit these days.

SimilarWeb — co-headquartered in San Francisco and Israel — has already made three acquisitions to date, all to expand the kinds of data that it is able to ingest and analyze. For example, at the end of 2015 it acquired Quettra to move deeper into mobile app intelligence.

This latest round was led by Viola Growth, with participation also from Saban Ventures, CE Ventures, and other unnamed investors. (Previous backers include Naspers, which led its previous round of $25 million.) It brings the total raised by SimilarWeb to $112 million.

SimilarWeb competes against the likes of Nielsen (and in the past, Alexa, before Amazon repurposed the name and business for its voice-based assistant). On the web, it provides data about how sites are performing, and offers comparative data for other sites; it also offers insights for mobile apps, where others providing mobile analytics include App Annie, Verto Analytics and Apptopia (among many others).

In the case of the competitive market insights, the “similar” of its name is a good product/branding fit, although it actually started as a different business: its first product iteration was as a Firefox plug-in that helped you find websites that you might like to visit that were “similar” to those you were already browsing.

Despite the size of the competitive field, Offer says that SimilarWeb’s focus on deeper metrics — for example, engagement over basic traffic data — has meant that it provides businesses with a more unique set of data, and this has led to a rush of growth for the business. 

“Nielsen is still stuck in the TV age,” Offer said. “We have an amazing set of data in market research, focusing on areas like conversions and audience insights, and we think we have the data to disrupt the whole of the market research world, as old models die with the shift into digital.”

Today, the company says that more than half of all Fortune 100 companies are using its products, along with “thousands” of other CMOs, investors, analysts, marketing agencies and consultants –customers include Google, eBay, Airbnb and Staples. No information provided on how many are using free versus paid versions of its platform (SimilarWeb is built on a freemium model, where you can use SimilarWeb’s own dashboard or implement its analytics by way of an API).

The reasons customers come to it, Offer said, are not just to help improve the performance of their own properties, but to figure out how to invest marketing budgets, how to develop their products, build bigger audiences and perhaps what acquisitions to make. 

SimilarWeb itself is taking a cue from that list to figure out how it will develop its business going forward.

As you might guess from his comments on disrupting market research, Offer noted that one area where SimilarWeb might do more in the future is consulting, where it not only provides intelligence and analytics data but also some insight into how that information can be used by the enterprise that has asked for it, to improve its business. In all, the market intelligence industry is worth some $68 billion, Offer said, so there is a lot of room to grow into adjacent areas.

“We’re excited to lead the round and support SimilarWeb’s growth towards further establishing its presence as global leader in the market intelligence industry,” said Harel Beit-On, Founder and General Partner of Viola Growth, in a statement. “SimilarWeb empowers some of the most notable global brands to better understand, grow, and track their digital market share, fueling the rapid adoption of SimilarWeb’s platform globally. With their proven technology, impressive team and global list of customers, the company is well positioned for accelerated growth and mass market penetration.”