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Milestones

Funded III

We’re now just over three years into Percolate and when I look back I tend to split the time based on our fundraises. It’s less because of the money and more about the things that happened to cause us to go raise a round. The first one was the end of our first year, 2011, when we were seven people, a few Fortune 500 clients, and the beginnings of the product that would eventually become Percolate. After building for just under a year, we felt like we had finally built something that answered a fundamental question every marketer was asking: “What should I Tweet about?” We believed we had a unique answer to that question and based on that went out and raised a $1.5 million seed round led by First Round Capital to help hire some more folks and bring Percolate to market. (more…)


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Milestones

The 3rd Phase of Marketing Technology

When I started my career in digital marketing 10 years ago we were living through the first phase of marketing technology. This was a world of banners, microsites, search and email. As a digital marketer you didn’t work with much technology but if you did, it most likely revolved around a category called advertising technology with DoubleClick or Aquantive for banners, marketing automation for email, or analytics like Omniture for your website. This phase of digital can be thought of as the web phase of digital. A snapshot of this phase can be seen here:

1st Phase:  Web

Largest internet media companies in 2005 by market cap: Google ($100B), Yahoo ($15B), AOL (~$1B)

During the first phase Google established itself as the most dominant marketing company in the world by owning search and they also made big acquisitions with marketing technology like DoubleClick.

The challenge for the first phase is advertising technology breaks down as the PC becomes less relevant. Almost all advertising technology, outside of email, revolves around web browsers and banners. This technology thrived in a browser based world that allowed for cookies to be dropped on users and retargeted through messaging that primarily came in the form of banners.

Social and more specifically mobile renders almost all this technology ineffective.  Social gathers almost all it’s data from first-party information, in other words, the data that you naturally give to a platform like Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn. Mobile eliminated any additional space that banners once occupied and forced both platforms and publishers to think about a native offering that strikes at a more consistent user experience than what banners can offer.

If you believe, like we do, that the first phase lives and dies with the PC, then the trend doesn’t look great: 

Decline in PS sales Year over Year

 

This brings us to the second phase, one that started to really gain traction in 2009 as Facebook passed 300 million users. Social in this phase for marketers was still on the web (ie. in the browser) and marketers spent millions of dollars on building Facebook microsites, often called tabs. A snapshot of the second phase can be seen here:

2nd Phase: Social Web

Largest internet media companies in 2010 by market cap: Google ($140B), Yahoo ($14B), Facebook ($10B)

A new type of technology  emerged in this second phase called SMMS (Social Media Management Systems). This technology served two functions. The first was focused on helping to build out the equivalent of microsites on Facebook in the form of tabs (to be fair, at the time this was really the only marketing solution available to brands). When Mark Zuckerberg spoke in the summer of 2013 and said Facebook was a mobile company moving forward that was an official signal that Facebook tabs were over and brands needed to re-align their focus on Facebook to take advantage of their mobile marketing solution, sponsored posts.

The second technology function that SMMS served was to help manage the explosion of CRM and customer service inquiries that occurred on social. The goal of this technology was to help brands build out their monitoring and response solutions, everything from being a new 1-800-number for social to building out customer profiles to crisis management.  The Altimeter Group  put together a nice slide on how SMMS differentiates itself along these lines:

What are  the two critical elements missing from this chart as it relates to opportunity that marketing now has and the internet that we are now dealing with?

Content and Mobile. Without a vision for content or mobile, part of SMMS marketing technology is left behind as a PC-centric solution and one that Facebook no longer actively promotes. The customer service solution side of SMMS is still thriving but it doesn’t solve the most strategic opportunity platforms and marketers have. That new opportunity brings us to phase 3.

3rd Phase: Social + Mobile

Largest internet media companies by market cap: Google ($400B), Facebook ($170B), Twitter ($30B), LinkedIn ($25B)

The combination of social + mobile creates an entirely new phase of marketing technology. From a media perspective, the promise is mobile media companies have larger global audiences and more sophisticated data and targeting than we have ever seen before. This is reflected in the market caps of social + mobile companies, for the first time ever, they are the largest media companies in the world:

Graph_2.003

In all cases, the native ad unit on these social + mobile platforms is content and marketers have been forced to move from creating a few pieces of content per year, like they did in traditional media, to creating hundreds of pieces of content per day as they have the opportunity to reach global audiences at a moment’s notice.

The media opportunity is only the outward-facing effect of this third phase.

The other opportunity for the marketing department that the third phase creates is how the marketing department changes inside the enterprise in a social mobile world.

The CMO and the marketing department have the potential to touch a much larger part of the organization than they ever did before. Every employee is on social and every employee is mobile. Never before, in the history of the enterprise, was there more of a transitional time for marketing to expand their reach.

What a marketer needs now is a system of technology that manages the creation and distribution of all this content with centralized oversight. The marketer moves from someone that once only moved content to audiences, to someone that needs to move content through the whole organization. In this new world the marketer has the ability to touch sales, HR and almost any department that puts social and mobile at the center of their activities.

This is our vision at Percolate and what we are building towards every day. For the marketer, we want to create a way for them to easily touch the whole organization and the massive global audiences that social and mobile now reach. The ability to do all this with Percolate creates a new type of marketer. A marketer that moves from campaign based communication to sustained communication. A marketer that moves from buying media to building systems. A marketer that moves from an average tenure of 24 months as a CMO to being the most strategic executive in the organization after the CEO.  A marketer that puts technology at the very center of their marketing process.

This is the next phase of marketing and we are excited about building it.


Want to see how Percolate is building a solution for the 3rd phase?

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Milestones

Capturing Your Brand’s Best Moments: Photographer on Android

Our latest milestone on the road to enabling better content across every device is the exciting launch of Percolate Photographer for Android. Percolate’s first Android release, Photographer lets our Android mobile customers easily take, tag and sync photos to their Percolate Media Library. Percolate Photographer 2.0.1 for iOS, which introduced direct publishing to Pinterest from media libraries, has been available since December.

Android is a platform we are excited about in 2014 and are investing heavily in to keep delivering on the same promise: giving brands and agencies the best tools for their employees to easily create real-time marketing content.

If you’re a current Percolate customer you can download Android Photographer in the business section of the Google Play Store today. The app is compatible with Android 4.0 and up.

If you’re not a Percolate customer and want to learn more about how our Photographer App is helping brands like P&G’s Braun capture their best moments on mobile, come introduce yourself.

 


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

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Milestones

2013: Year in Review

In trying to write up this post recapping 2013, I kept trying to come up with a way to define the first three years of a startup’s life. The first year is clearly about identifying the problem. We spent 2011 with a clear sense that there was a challenge to be solved in helping brands create content with technology (because James and I had lived it in our previous lives in the marketing world), but we still had to prove it was something we could solve and would drive value for our clients.

By the end of year one we had some great clients and a good sense for what needed to be done. From there we spent year two proving it. We started to build a bigger team and bring on more and bigger clients. By the end of year two (2012), we had seen real client success and continued to see momentum in the content space (especially from the big social platforms, who after Facebook’s IPO in May, 2012, were taken a lot more seriously by the business world).

Year three, last year, was about building out the business. We nearly tripled the business in 12 months (we’re now almost 90 people), shipped an incredible amount of product, and brought some of the world’s best brands on board as Percolate customers.  As a co-founder it’s a crazy and amazing feeling to walk into our office and feel the buzz of that many people working on delivering great marketing technology for clients. That our mission, to be your content marketing platform, has stayed the same only makes things feel even better.

But, of course, the life of a startup isn’t about looking back. So what does year four (2014) hold for Percolate? I’d say this is the year we fully establish ourselves in the market. We’ve learned enough (both over the last three years of the company and the course of our careers), to know definitively that we are solving the number one challenge in marketing: How to create engaging, relevant content on a continual basis without throwing an unlimited amount of money against the problem. We also know that we have built the best product and team to solve the problem, so this year is about making sure everyone else knows those things, as well as continuing to bring top-tier service and features to our clients day-in-and-day-out.

Finally, the last note here is a gigantic thank you to all our clients, both new and old. Their support, guidance, and ideas, have really driven our product, and more broadly business, through the last few years. It’s a cliche to say that without clients you don’t have a company, but it’s also very true. So, to all of you who are reading this, thanks for all the support. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you and it’s our commitment to continue to go above and beyond expectations (surprise and delight as Kiva, our VP of Sales likes to say). Keep being awesome.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

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Design

Introducing the new Percolate brand system

It all started with an orange drip.

It’s been almost three years since Percolate was brought into the world with a logo that loosely played on the notion of percolating coffee. The drip at the front represented the content inspiration our technology surfaces for a brand marketing team. Since then quite a lot has happened: We’ve grown a company, culture, and, importantly, a product that focuses on helping brands create content more efficiently and effectively.

As we’ve evolved as a company and product, our identity has mostly stayed put, picking up definition and flourishes along the way, but maintaining it’s core structure and patterns. As we reached this next stage of our development, a stage that involves us defining and building a new category of software, we felt like our identity needed to be upgraded alongside. Ultimately, there were some things working well in the system and areas where we could be stronger and use the opportunity to take a more sophisticated approach to better reflect where we are today and where we are going. So with that in mind we challenged ourselves to take the design of our brand system forward.

Today, we reveal that new system that takes our identity to the next level. We’ve created a system that has dialed down intricacies and dialed up flexibility to allow us to truly operationalize our brand: Giving our team confidence to create incredible on-brand communications that let people know about a thoughtful technology company called Percolate.

This also fits into our broad product philosophy. After all, if the things we build should continue to grow (no feature we ship is ever completely final), why should a brand system stay stagnant? At the end of the day we don’t expect it to move as much as the product does, which changes weekly, but we do think the identity of a technology company needs to be more flexible than average and that’s what we’ve gone for.

With that all laid out, let’s dive into the design. Since most of you are marketers I’m betting you’ll find it interesting. Here are the 7 things you need to know about our new brand system:

1. Kubrick would have approved

The first thing you will notice is the new logo. It’s all orange, unapologetically bold and set in a typeface called Futura. We’re excited about how the logo pushes our primary brand color and reinforces our iconic drip here. What you might not notice at first glance are some small customizations to the l and t we made to balance the form. If the typeface looks familiar it will be because typographer Paul Renner brought it into the world in 1927 and since then Futura been instrumental in building some pretty significant brands, and rumor has it that it was also a favorite of a film director called Stanley Kubrick. 01

2. Going all in on Orange

The optimism of our company could probably be distilled down to the color orange. It’s a color that has distinguished our look from a market of blue tinted companies. It became clear early on that it was important for us to take orange further with our evolution of the brand. You’ll see new primary applications and stationary lead with orange to provide that first touch point for customers, partners and potential employees. You’ll also notice we have introduced a new secondary typeface in Sentinel, it sets up an elegant contrast with our logotype that will revealed more throughout this post.

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3. Layers change the pace

If you’re following the color science theme in this post you’ll be pleased to hear that our optimism has been boosted with the addition of a secondary color palette. Four colors across maroon, purple and blue add further imagination and trust to our brand communications and products. We like using color to change the pace of our presentations so you’ll see the colors there, also it’s given us a stronger dynamic range on illustrations, patterns and editorial elements.03

4. Tools for building products

Part of designing our brand system was about providing our team’s guidelines on how to execute the new Percolate . So in the last couple of week’s behind the scenes we loaded up some tools with our new styles to do this; from the keynote theme which guides our presentations, our image editor application for creating social images and our product style guide which our designers and developers use. We also updated Welcome to Percolate, the website for all things Percolate which is now a great place to find our new logotype, fonts and desktop wallpaper patterns.04

5. All the screens

Being a technology company we were pretty excited to take the new system to our software products. Our customers will see a new look Percolate from today and for everyone else, you can see a preview in the imagery across this site. The move here was updating our style guides to integrate the new typography and colors across our web and mobile products. We also finally got round to building out an icon font based on our new style, basically this ensures the quality of display across all devices and makes our job as designers and developers much easier when pulling stuff together. 05

6. Collaboration brought new perspectives

There is approximately 1673 miles between us and our design partners Berger & Föhr in Colorado. For 6 weeks there were no in person meetings, just plenty of skype email conference call activity. It was important for us from day 1 to work with people outside the company to bring a new perspective to our brand evolution. Our partners, Todd and Lucian had no emotional baggage with Percolate and they managed to construct a thoughtful dialogue from initial research questionnaires through to design concepts and  iterations to push our team and take the system to places we hadn’t imagined. 06

7. Building culture

Design can do more at technology companies than help create great products and marketing materials; design can help build your culture and make your team proud to be part of what the company is creating. From the start of this project ‘make awesome stuff for the team’ was definitely part of our brief. Today you’ll see the first signs of this with our new t-shirt designs and wallpapers for desktop and iOS.07

And that’s 7. Hopefully that’s given you a good overview of what’s been going down. We dubbed today Day Zero internally; the business cards have been handed out and I’m surrounded in new T-shirts, but this is just the beginning. This system will be brought to life with stories that have yet to be told about the future of marketing technology and the products we will build. TV visualizations up next will be a nice place to play.

The last thing I would like to say is we’re hiring the best designers you know, so tell your friends. I had to get that in right?  Yeah I thought so too.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Clients

SPEAKEASY, a Night for Community Managers

Last night we held our first happy hour specifically for community managers, SPEAKEASY. We had an incredible turnout at Percolate HQ, especially for a night packed with holiday parties across the city.

Our celebrity photographer Dom Goodrum was on hand to document the night’s festivities:

Thanks to everyone who came out including our co-hosts Kristine Michelsen-Correa, bitly; Lauren Cucinotta, TEDx; and Allie MacPherson, TEXT100. We hope you enjoyed meeting team Percolate and other like-minded folk.

We’re busy planning the next SPEAKEASY so look for invites just after the New Year.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Milestones

Funded II

In December of last year we wrote a blog post about our seed funding. In it we outlined year one at Percolate and how we got to where we were (at the time 9 employees and the official launch of our “non-alpha product”). Here’s what we said about why we raised and what we were going to do with the money:

Up to this point we’ve been funding the company with money from clients (we’re up to eight) and the decision to take funding wasn’t one we took lightly. Ultimately we believed that the time is right for a product like ours and with the help of our partners we can really ramp up operations and bring Percolate to market in a real way. Needless to say, we’re stoked.

As for what we’re going to do with the money, the first order of business is to hire some more folks to spread the Percolate gospel. So, if you’re an engineer or sales person and want to work with an amazing team you should check our jobs page and apply.

It’s almost 11 months to the day of that post and I am excited to report that we are well on our way to executing what we set out to do with that seed round of funding.

Marketers are coming to us with their biggest challenges that intersect at real-time communication and the data their growing social audiences are giving off.

The team is up to 28 people and we have more than 30 Fortune 500 clients. This year has been a wild ride of growth on all fronts (product, business, company) and we’ve hit many milestones (profitability, version 3.0 of the product, an amazing list of blue chip brands).

At the time of our seed round, we made the decision that we would look to raise again when we felt like the only thing holding us back was that we needed even more people to help spread the word about what we’re doing at Percolate on a daily basis. Well, we reached that point more quickly than we could have imagined and decided to jump on the opportunity by raising our second round of financing with the objective of really scaling out our business and building the best software in the world to help brands create content at social scale.

To that end I’m incredibly excited to announce that we’ve raised a $9 million Series A financing led by GGV Capital with participation from existing investors First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures and many others.

We are super excited to have such a great group of investors and even more excited for what lies ahead. We feel the opportunity has never been better to build the next great enterprise software company headquartered in NYC and to get there we’ll need to continue to hire the most talented people in the world.

If you are an engineer or sales person (or account manager or designer) looking for an amazing place to work, check out our open jobs. I’m sure you’ll fit right in.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Employees

Rethinking Our Company Pages

After almost two years in business, Percolate has undergone lots of change: new employees, new spaces, new products. With that, we wanted our company pages to better reflect who we are as a organization. Today you’ll see new pages outlining our business, how we work, our culture, new job opportunities and a place to showcase our clients.

Here’s how we got there.

Our first round of company pages were a collection of facts and job descriptions, which worked well for a time. But as the company culture has taken root and become an inextricable part of how we do business, the new pages aim to give visitors a real sense of what we’re all about. The pages are designed to be that initial conversation on the Percolate story: from the story of our founders and mission to our clients and the immense change in brand marketing we help tackle.

Here are the questions our new online headquarters will answer:

Is the company solving an interesting problem?

1. Our Business: Here’s the company mission and an interview capturing the founders’ vision and passion. As we continue to build Percolate, we’ve included a timeline of the company milestones to date.

What are the team’s values and how do they work together?

2. How we work: Percolate is built around two teams: product and business. Our professional values, our thoughtful technology and content set the tenor for the entire company.

What are the people really like and how happy will I be at Percolate?

3. Our Culture: We love the culture we’re building and demonstrate that with a tour of the office and day-to-day life. Our people are crucial to maintaining a healthy and happy place to work, so here’s where you’ll meet the team, too.

What opportunities are available?

4. Jobs: The company is growing and fast, so we’ve included here the many opportunities to join the team and define the future of brand marketing. A career at Percolate means helping build a lasting culture and developing professionally.

So, have a look around. Stay awhile, get to know us and maybe we’ll see you (or your resume) some time soon.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Milestones

Funded

On January 1st of this year James and I started Percolate. It was a bit scary to make the leap, but we were excited about the Percolate product and the space of helping brands create content. That month we started working on the publishing layer: Building a simple interface on top of the algorithm that would make it easy for brands to curate content for their social channels and .coms.

In March Reuters came on as our first client, licensing the API to power Counterparties. They were the perfect first client as we knew that Felix and Ryan would push the product hard (and they did, pushing 40+ stories on some days).

As they experimented with the early alpha version we prepared a public alpha for release. In July we pushed that out the door and began to show the world what we had been working on. By that point GE had joined the client list and the team was five strong.

Since then things have kept moving (faster than I ever imagined), culminating with the release of our full-featured product last week (and exit from “alpha” … whatever that means these days). Thanks to an amazing effort by the team (nine strong now) we pushed out a product we’re all incredibly proud of. The new Percolate.com brand dashboard makes it even easier for social editors to create content to push across the brand’s social presences. In addition, the analytics layer helps brands see how their posts are performing and even build out their interest graph by adding additional sources to their Percolate library.

With the official release of the new Percolate we’re also excited to announce that we’ve raised our first round of funding from an incredible group of investors. Leading the round are the excellent folks from First Round Capital. Joining FRC are Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Transmedia Capital and Advancit as well as angels Dave Morin, Rick Webb, Paul Woolmington, Nick Gross, Josh Spear and Jerry Neumann.

Up to this point we’ve been funding the company with money from clients (we’re up to eight) and the decision to take funding wasn’t one we took lightly. Ultimately we believed that the time is right for a product like ours and with the help of our partners we can really ramp up operations and bring Percolate to market in a real way. Needless to say, we’re stoked.

As for what we’re going to do with the money, the first order of business is to hire some more folks to spread the Percolate gospel. So, if you’re an engineer or sales person and want to work with an amazing team you should check our jobs page and apply.

Finally, I’d be remiss to not give huge props to the team here at Percolate. As proud as I am of the product we’ve built, I’m more proud of the team of people. We’ve got an amazing group of folks who are talented, passionate and excited. It’s awesome to get to come to work every day and I honestly believe we can do anything with the team we’ve got.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Milestones

Connect Tumblr to your Percolator

Are you on Tumblr? Looking to add some inspiring sources to your Percolator?

Good news! We’ve integrated Tumblr into Percolate.

Link your Tumblr account on your connections screen and we’ll add the Tumblblogs you follow as sources to your Percolator.

We’re excited about this one. Pulling content from the people you follow on Tumblr adds a new dimension to your brew, and makes it even easier for you to access the web’s most interesting stuff.

You can also share your favorite Percolate posts on Tumblr. Simply select the toggle in the post draw to effortlessly top up your Tumblr. Look Ewoks…

To get started, head over to your connections screen and link your Tumblr account.

 

 


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.