Thursday Sep 12, 2013 by Dennis Keohane - Staff Writer, VentureFizz
Salsify, the cloud-based content management for e-commerce company, announced this morning that they have raised $8 million in a Series A round of funding from Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.
The company's SaaS product enables enterprises to share a wide array of different content through a cloud-based network, allowing for data, pictures, and written content to be exchanged more easily in the high-paced world of e-commerce.
As Rob Gonzalez, Salsify's VP of Marketing and one of the company's co-founders, explained, "To grossly simplify it, if you work for a company that makes digital camera accessories and you launch a new product, you have to get data about that product to your retail and distribution partners and on your own website to actually sell it."
"Today," he said, "that involves copying and pasting the data—sometimes with modifications—into dozens of different spreadsheets and emailing them around, and a month or so later your product might start showing up on websites. With Salsify, we’re aiming to make that data exchange instantaneous."
Gonzalez added, "We save companies dramatic amounts of time and money by giving them the means to share the right content with every audience at all times. The system is easy enough that anyone can use it."
The greatest feature of Salsify's content management tools is that it allows customers, in an assortment of various sectors, to manage content in a wide variety of ways. Gonzalez shared with me three client anecdotes that illustrate Salsify's flexibility in supporting the varied and complex issues that arise when managing product data within a company or with partners. The first "typical/beta" user story Gonzalez shared showed that Salsify can be extremely helpful in sectors where easy-to-access content could help the productivity, of, say, a cosmetics company needing to improve their go-to-market readiness. He gave another example where the product allows easier editing in industries that need to update online/catalog product info continuously, like the medical device industry. Lastly, Gonzalez explained how Salsify can help retailers (like those in the consumer electronics sector who need to manage an overwhelming amount of hardware and software accessories) to automate the input of new products and accessories, a process that normally could take a team of workers hours and weeks to complete.
As Gonzalez said, "On the surface these are very different specific problems, but it’s the same software solving all of them. We’re creating product relationships, managing the images and datasheets for products, and creating and managing product attributes as different parts to the overall problem of creating and managing high quality product data for online retail."
"Over time, he added, "we expect to see individual companies seeing all of the benefits experienced by these customers."
Salsify has deep roots in one of the best Boston success stories in recent years: Endeca, which sold to Oracle for over $1 billion in 2011. The entire leadership/founding team of Salsify are members of the ever-growing "Endeca Mafia" that is continuing to make a mark in the Boston innovation ecosystem. Gonzalez, VP of Products Jeremy Redburn, and CEO Jason Purcell all worked at Endeca before reuniting in 2012 to found Salsify.
Their experiences at Endeca inform a lot of what they have done with Salsify.
As Michael Skok of North Bridge Venture Partners said in the press release to announce the funding, “The product information bottleneck in e-commerce today is a big and growing problem.”
“In fact year-on-year online spending grew at over 4x traditional retail sales in Q4 - the fastest since over five years ago according to the Department of Commerce," he added. "But without the right product content being compiled with all the rich media required by buyers, then distributed through the now multiple channels of B2B or B2C e-commerce and formatted for all the forms of delivery from web to mobile and beyond, commerce simply grinds to a halt." Skok continued, "Keeping it up-to-date and available on demand is a distributed problem ideally suited to the cloud solution Salsify is delivering."
"But best of all this team is uniquely qualified to address this from their time at companies like Endeca and they have a vision to build an industry leading company that we’re honored to fund.”
Gonzalez said that the new funding will be used, "Primarily for hiring and marketing to accelerate growth."
"To fulfill our vision, we need quality engineers as soon as possible...as a SaaS company that’s focusing on inbound marketing we need to build out our marketing and inside sales organizations."
"This requires a lot of capital," Gonzalez said, "and in the current hiring market, being venture-backed is a necessity to attract top talent.
With the $8 million Series A round, Salsify will be growing rapidly.
With a product that is built to make in impact for e-commerce companies immediately and is flexible enough to adapt to the needs of an assortment of business sectors over time, Salsify may be announcing its latest funding this morning, but somehow, I don't think this will be the last time we hear of the company.