During the pandemic, especially when we were in lockdown, just about every retailer had to build its online presence and do it quickly. As people move to shop online in larger numbers, being able to personalize that experience has become more crucial. That made the pandemic a pivotal moment for Bluecore, an e-commerce personalization platform, and today the company announced a $125 million Series E on a $1 billion valuation.
Existing investor Georgian led the round, with participation from other existing investors FirstMark and Norwest, along with new investor Silver Lake Waterman. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $225 million, according to the company.
Until fairly recently, Bluecore CEO and co-founder Fayez Mohamood says that retail outreach was mostly about driving traffic to brick and mortar stores or to the company website, but as more business gets conducted online, it has changed how brands have to interact with their customers.
“We believe in that shift, and Bluecore is a retail-specific, multichannel personalization platform, and we combine basically three types of data. First is customer identity. Second is shopper behavior. And then thirdly and most importantly, the product catalog of a retailer, and using that we drive personalized experiences on various channels,” Mohamood explained.
The company was founded in 2013, and has been able to evolve the notion of personalization since then in a significant way. Mohamood says the pandemic really pushed things into the digital realm where his company’s strength lies, and that’s one of the primary reasons they are taking on this funding.
“Personalization has always been important, but I think the value retailers can derive from it has dramatically accelerated as digital became a bigger and bigger portion of everybody’s revenue stream. And over the last year, that became even more critical,” he said.
As the company’s growth has accelerated, so has the hiring. In May 2020, Bluecore had 236 employees; today it has more than 300, and it’s shooting to be over 400 by the end of the year. He says that as he grows the company, diversity and inclusion is a crucial component to have the employee base reflect the diversity of the customers they serve.
“It starts with the executive team, so I’m extremely proud of the fact that on our executive team close to half our team is female. We have a committee that is represented by the core employees that is a diversity, equity and inclusion committee where we have thoughts and ideas and most most importantly actions on how we can build a better diverse, inclusive workplace. And that translates it into OKRs,” he said.
As a Series E company with a billion-dollar valuation, Mohamood can see becoming a public company at some point, but it is not an immediate goal, as he pursues growth over profitability. “The way we think about it is we have this brand that’s going to help us invest in our product capabilities, our leadership capabilities and our go-to-market capabilities to build something that has the ability to [be a public company some day]. Having said that, we’re pursuing growth, and if that’s the goal, we find that staying private helps us do that,” he said. And with $125 million of runway, the company has plenty of freedom to take its time.