IFTTT raises $24M led by Salesforce to expand its platform to ‘connect everything’

IFTTT, a startup that was an early mover in API integrations by creating a platform for people to write easy scripts to connect different apps to each other (the name stands for “if this, then that”), is announcing another $24 million in funding to take its business deeper into areas like enterprise and IoT services.

This funding comes on the back of what CEO Linden Tibbets described in an interview as the company’s strongest-ever year in terms of revenue and growth (without disclosing any actual numbers; IFTTT has never been very transparent on this front, frustratingly).

IFTTT today has 14 million registered consumers (although it will not say how many are active), 75 million Applets since launch, and more than 5,000 active developers building services and more than 140,000 building Applets on the IFTTT Platform. Products from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, BMW, Samsung, IBM, MyQ, and Verizon are among those touched by IFTTT scripts.

The round is notable for a couple of reasons. It’s the first funding announced by IFTTT in four years, a relatively large gap in the startup world. and it’s the first time that IFTTT has had strategic investors. The Series C was led by Salesforce, with participation also from IBM and the Chamberlain Group (best known for a variety of brands of automatic entry gates and garage door openers) — who all have services and Applets available on the platform — along with Fenox Venture Capital.

“They see IFTTT as an important business, ecosystem and partner in the industry,” said Tibbets of the strategics in this round. 

“IFTTT is at the forefront of establishing a more connected ecosystem for devices and services. It’s a prime example of the amazing innovation and commitment to customer success that we look for in our portfolio companies,” said John Somorjai, EVP of Corporate Development and Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce, in a statement.

(IFTTT’s longish list of previous investors have included Andreessen Horowitz, Betaworks, Greylock, NEA, Norwest, SV Angels and more.) The company has raised $63 million to date.

No valuation disclosed in this round, but for some context, IFTTT’s post-money valuation in August 2014 was around $210 million, according to PitchBook.

In 2010, IFTTT was one of the first startups to realise the opportunity in our fragmented tech world of linking up disparate apps — and later other services and devices — via their APIs, but a lot has evolved in the last eight years.

Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple have doubled down on their own interconnected platform plays, which include connected home products and both enterprise and consumer hubs that control different apps and services.

Meanwhile, on the enterprise IT end of the scale, you have services like Slack that have become funnels for calling in data from dozens of apps; and a number of companies that are also building bridges to connect up disparate apps and IoT services for businesses.

(Notably, new investor Salesforce acquired MuleSoft earlier this year for $6.5 billion, and invests in Workato, respectively already covering its bases in enterprise IoT and IT integrations and business intelligence integrations.)

Despite all the competition, IFTTT has grown as a long-tail play, by focusing on specific actions between apps and devices, some of which are created by users of its platform and some by the companies themselves, and often are not provided elsewhere either because companies have yet to integrate directly, or the action is perhaps too specific. (Example: this Applet lets you add any item on your Alexa to-do list to Facebook Messenger, by way of an IFTTT bot.)

“Building your own API platform and developer ecosystem is incredibly hard and expensive,” Tibbets said. “Business are forced to focus on just a small handful of integrations and platforms.”

This, plus the added benefit of getting exposure by being on a platform where many other services are being used, were two of the reasons why it’s picked up strategic investors.

“IBM and IFTTT are working together to realize the potential of today’s connected world. By bringing together IBM’s Watson IoT Platform and Watson Assistant Solutions with consumer- facing services, we can help clients to create powerful and open solutions for their users that work with everything in the Internet of Things,” said Bret Greenstein, VP, Watson Internet of Things, IBM, in a statement. “Our work together is an important step to enable true interoperability between devices as IoT becomes pervasive across business and society alike.”

The company has essentially thrived on the double tensions of ongoing fragmentation in the tech world (which is a good thing: we don’t want one company to control everything), and people’s desire to simplify their busy lives and wanting to use the technology they own to do that.

“Every single business, product and organization is becoming a service,” Tibbets said. “Getting all of these services to work together is a massive problem, opportunity and market. IFTTT is focused on defining and improving the relationship between businesses, their customers and the expanding universe of services that those end customers use.

Interestingly, we’ve had dozens of tips over the years about IFTTT, claiming potential sales of the company to the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and others. We were never able to get any corroboration for them from IFTTT or other sources — and whether or not they were completely accurate, an exit obviously never came to pass.

I resurfaced the rumors to see if I could get anywhere on them now, with a funding round off the ground, but got deflected once again. “We are focused on cementing IFTTT’s position as the leading, neutral platform for a more connected and compatible world,” Tibbets responded. “There is huge opportunity ahead for IFTTT and we’re excited to pursue it with all of our investors, users, customers and team.”