When you’re raising venture capital, it helps if you’ve had “exits.” In other words, if your company has been acquired or you’ve taken one public, investors are more inclined to take a bet on anything you do.
Boston-based serial entrepreneur David Cancel has sold not just one, but four companies. And after a few years running product for HubSpot, he’s in the midst of building number five.
That startup, Drift, managed to raise $47 million in its first three years. Now it’s announcing another $60 million led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from existing investors CRV and General Catalyst. The valuation is undisclosed.
So what is Drift? It’s “changing the way businesses buy from businesses,” said Cancel. He wants to eventually build an alternative to Amazon to make it easier for companies to make large orders.
Currently, Drift subscribers can use chatbots to help turn web visits into sales. It has 100,000 clients including Zenefits, MongoDB, Zuora and AdRoll.
Drift “turns those conversations into customers,” Cancel explained. He said that technology is comparable to what is commonly used for customer service. It’s the “same messaging that was used for support, but used in the sales context.”
In the long-run, Cancel says he hopes Drift will expand its offerings to compete with Salesforce.
The company wouldn’t disclose revenue, but says it is ten times better compared to whatever it was in the past year. And it’s on track to grow another five times this year. This, of course, means little without hard numbers.
Yet we’re told that the new round means that Drift will have $90 million in the bank. It plans to use some of the funding to make acquisitions in voice and video technology. Drift also plans to expand its teams in both Boston and San Francisco, with new offices for both. The company presently has 130 employees.