It’s been a very tough year for Placer.ai’s core customer segments of retail and commercial real estate, to put it mildly. But the foot traffic and location analytics startup saw growth in new categories, including consumer packaged goods (CPG) and hedge funds that use its tech to perform due diligence. The Los Altos, California-based company announced today that it has raised a $50 million Series B led by Josh Buckley, the chief executive officer of Product Hunt, Todd Goldberg and Rahul Vohra. Participants included Fifth Wall and returning investors JBV Capital and Aleph VC.
The new capital will be used on research and development and expanding Placer.ai’s sales and marketing teams. Its last funding announcement was in January 2020 for a $12 million Series A.
Placer.ai collects geolocation and proximity data from devices that are enabled to share that information by their users, and creates anonymized and aggregated consumer profiles. Since its launch, the company’s key customers have been offline retail businesses, shopping centers, hotels and other brick-and-mortar businesses that use it to analyze foot traffic, the success of marketing campaigns and location performance. Placer.ai’s co-founder and chief executive officer Noam Ben-Zvi said he expected the COVID-19 pandemic to be challenging as people stayed away from stores and purchased online instead.
But adoption of Placer.ai’s tech increased among several new segments, including CPG and hedge funds, and it is continuing to expand in retail and commercial real estate as companies plan ahead.
The company’s CPG clients use its tools for market analysis, refining category management or promotion strategies and tracking product performance. Ben-Zvi expects its CPG customer base to continue growing as more brands, like direct-to-consumer labels, open their own stores.
Placer.ai’s hedge fund clients use it to research potential investments. “Because data is in near real-time, reliable and very granular, it allows investors to quickly identify signals that speak to the true offline health of any brand. But there is also a qualitative data element that allows strategic initiatives to be thoroughly analyzed,” Ben-Zvi said in an email.
“For example, we looked at CVS Health Hubs when they were in their pilot stage in a handful of locations. When the company announced that they would be rolling this out to over a thousand branches, investors had a strong sense of the potential,” he added. “The ability of the data to fuel both quantitative and qualitative analysis at a very high level is a powerful combination.”
For retail and commercial real estate users, “the situation ahead is going to be turbulent, and data is going to play a fundamental role in confidently navigating the changing environment and driving effective decision making,” said Ben-Zvi. Commercial real estate owners need to make sure the mix of tenants in their properties are compelling enough to draw in shoppers, and understand how they are faring against competitors. Some retailers are focused on expansion, while others are testing new concepts and formats.
In a press statement about his investment, Buckley said, “Placer allows businesses that operate offline to make data-driven decisions, fundamentally improving the way they operate. This is the same type of tooling that online businesses have used to grow, moving from hunches to definitive answers. I’m excited to be partnering with the company’s next phase of growth and product development.”
Edit: List of leading investors updated.