Eight years ago, I met the founders of a new startup in the sales and marketing software space.
As a venture investor, I was naturally jaded when I took the meeting. Thousands of startups were launching to re-invent sales, VCs were pumping out market maps with tiny logos crammed onto one slide, and there were a graveyard of companies that failed to gain meaningful traction.
But when I left my meeting with Andy Byrne and Venkat Rangan, the founders of Clari, I was energized. This one was different.
At the time, they were a pre-revenue company with a handful of design partners and an early prototype. They had a vision so ambitious I wasn’t sure they could pull it off.
But the piece that caught my attention was the underlying data infrastructure.
They claimed they could automatically capture the important customer-facing events and activities from email, calendars, help desk systems, websites, and other tooling, eliminating the biggest pitfall of enterprise software — the required human data entry which had been the plague of CRM data quality for 20 years.
Based on the vision and the strength of the founders and the technical team, we invested. Eight years later, we are thrilled to support Clari’s latest funding round, a $225 million Series F led by Blackstone at a valuation of $2.6 billion, marking a milestone in Clari’s journey as the leader in the emerging revenue operations (RevOps) space.
What’s the secret of Clari’s success, and what has fueled Clari’s recent momentum?
The Underlying Data Infrastructure Enables An End-to-End RevOps Solution
Clari’s key insight was to build CRM software that didn’t require customer-facing professionals to complete manual data entry.
Clari’s data hub architecture automatically processes millions of real-time events from a variety of internal systems to capture the key activities which might impact revenue. This foundation can be leveraged for an array of applications.
Clari’s first application was pipeline inspection which highlights deals at risk. They then added a sales forecasting module which is a workflow and artificial intelligence engine that helps revenue leaders and finance leaders understand the forecast and make adjustments to improve outcomes.
But this is just the start. Clari is attacking every major workflow in revenue operations: cross-selling, upselling, upstream pipeline generation, sales coaching, and performance management. All of these processes rely on the same data infrastructure which provides a unified data foundation for an end-to-end RevOps system.
Clari Has Become The Standard
Clari’s customers include many of the fastest growing companies in technology — decacorns, unicorns, public companies, and future unicorns. These firms utilize Clari across their sales, marketing, finance, and customer success functions. Individual sellers and operations teams use Clari, as do C-suite and executive teams.
Increasingly in the board room, Clari is being used as a more interactive and collaborative way to provide visibility into a company’s revenue, pipeline, and net retention rate. I’m seeing a growing number of the companies I’m involved with abandon the standard sales powerpoint slides for a real-time walk through Clari. And Clari is now mentioned in public company earnings calls.
Clari’s adoption goes well beyond the technology vertical to include health care, financial services, telecom, and manufacturing companies.
Executives and individual sellers who have experienced Clari don’t want to go back to the old way: manual data entry, complex BI systems, endless spreadsheets, and lack of quality data. When these executives move to a new company, they want Clari. This has fueled the incredible momentum Clari has experienced over the past 24 months. Our customers are our most vocal advocates. Revenue professionals swear by Clari and when they join a company without it, it feels like the Dark Ages!
A Team That Is Going The Distance
As VCs, one question we always ask ourselves at the beginning of a seed or Series A investment is: Does this team have the tenacity, vision, and ambition to go the distance? Startup journeys are hard. Even for the very best companies, the dark days often make an early exit seem attractive.
Andy, Venkat and the entire team at Clari, are special leaders. They led the company through the early years when it wasn’t obvious that the Clari solution could be built, or that companies would be ready to move beyond their tried and true CRM approaches of the last two decades.
Building the data infrastructure required extensive R&D from the start, without commensurate results in terms of revenue or ARR. They struggled to find early adopters because the traditional systems for managing revenue had become so ingrained. But under Andy’s leadership as CEO, the company persevered and stayed true to its vision.
Today, Clari’s funding milestone, fueled by the passion and support of Clari’s customers, represents an important moment in the creation of the RevOps category, and solidifies Clari’s position at the pinnacle of next generation companies.
A huge congratulations to the entire team at Clari for what they have accomplished over the past decade. We are excited to see what the future holds for Clari and the category of RevOps.