Startups

Visual collaboration startup MURAL raises huge $118M Series B

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This morning MURAL announced it has raised $118 million in an outsized Series B. The visual collaboration startup provides a whiteboard-like digital environment that allows for users to cooperate and brainstorm.

MURAL announced it had raised $23 million earlier this year, though that investment closed in 2019. The $23 million round was a more traditionally sized Series A, coming after what TechCrunch then described as a “history of capital efficient growth.”

Since then, the company’s growth has accelerated and it has attracted new backers.

This new round was led by Insight Partners, along with a host of other capital vehicles, including Tiger Global, Slack’s corporate venture fund and the World Innovation Lab. QualtricsRyan Smith and Allison Pickens, a former COO at Gainsight, also took part along with other tech notables.

When MURAL raised its Series A, the company had millions in ARR, though how many millions wasn’t clear. It also had some accounts that were worth north of $1 million apiece. So, what’s happened since that allowed the company to more than quadruple its Series A raise in its Series B?

Growth

MURAL was performing well enough in late 2019 that when it decided to take on extra capital to expand its go-to-market motion, the funds were available. Since the start of 2020, the world has seen the COVID-19 pandemic reshape how hundreds of millions of information laborers work. Tools that help facilitate remote work and remote collaboration have been in high demand.

This has not harmed the startup’s growth.

In emails with TechCrunch, MURAL disclosed that it has tripled its annual recurring revenue (ARR) in the last year. And, the company has added “over a million” monthly active users (MAUs) thus far in 2020. How many MAUs did MURAL have before? The company declined to share, but did say that “prior to 2020” its monthly actives were in the “hundreds of thousands.”

As companies accelerate their digital transitions, employees detail a changed workplace

MURAL has therefore seen rapid revenue growth and rising usage in 2020.

The startup has plans for its new capital, including spending more on its global go-to-market capabilities, product work and “community engagement initiatives.” The first two planned efforts are standard-fare for startup funding news, while the last is a bit different. To understand it, recall that MURAL works with consultants who, in turn, use its product. The stronger that network is the longer the startup may be able to sustain its current revenue growth, as having a network of in-market product evangelists isn’t a bad way to get the word out.

The company and its backers think that it has a lot more market to sell into than it has reached to date. Insight Capital’s Nikhil Sachdev told TechCrunch in an interview that MURAL is operating in “a big horizontal category,” and that “even before COVID, there was a lot of great evidence” of how big the company might become, given its history of sales into enterprise companies, and its resulting “engagement metrics [and] net revenue retention trends, pre-COVID.”

Throw in a remote-work inducing global change, and things get even more interesting. In Sachdev’s view, “COVID has certainly accelerated the demand curve” for MURAL, which helps explain its torrid revenue expansion.

MURAL is helmed by Mariano Suarez-Battan, a CEO I’ve spoken to a number of times in the last year to keep tabs on the growth of his company. Asked how he wound up raising a somewhat peculiar $118 million in the Series B, he deadpanned “astrology.”

The real reason is that Suarez-Battan was looking for a few things in his new investor set, including “patience,” “money” and an “unfair advantage going into [the] large enterprises of the world.” Our read of the round, in light of that comment, is that providing the selected parties sufficient allocation to make the deal work wound up generating the very large $118 million Series B figure. (TechCrunch did confirm that the round was a minority investment.)

MURAL doesn’t appear overly worried about a return to the world from before, once COVID-19 is eventually brought to heel. To explain its view, Suarez-Battan told the story of a user who dramatically expanded the number of workshops they could host each week thanks to the digital service. The company’s point? Will that person go back to doing fewer, in-person events or stay doing more, online events, even after COVID?

Regardless of how the world reverts, or not post-COVID, MURAL has taken advantage of a big market movement in its direction. And now it has more money than ever to pursue its plan for growth. Let’s see how far it can get before we hear from the startup yet again.

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