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.
The next big moment came just six months later in May 2012 when three big things happened: First, Facebook went public, totally changing the conversation around social and content. Second, Buddy Media got bought by Salesforce, which helped solidify to the market that marketing technology was a real category. Finally, Facebook switched over to timeline, declaring the end of the “social web,” as tabs fell to the wayside. Based on those events, plus some good traction, we went out and raised a $9 million Series A led by GGV.
The third big moment came over the summer, when Mark Zuckerberg officially announced Facebook was a mobile company, bringing to bear the fact that every marketer now needs to be a great content creator. We’ve been describing this as the beginning of the 3rd phase of marketing technology: The shift from the social web (Facebook pages and Twitter replies) to distributed mobile + social and all the opportunities that opens up. This shift came to a head last week as Wildfire, one of the poster children for the SMMS category, announced it was shutting down its service. To us that announcement was yet another proof point in our broader third phase story about the shift to a mobile + social world. As James, my co-founder, pointed out in a blog post earlier this year, the opportunity for marketers in this new world is so much greater:
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.
That, in essence, is what we see in front of us: The chance to build a whole category of software and be the first to deliver a true system of record for marketing. It’s that vision combined with our 2013 growth and execution that drove us to decide to go out and raise a $24 million Series B led by Sequoia Capital. We’ve never been shy in laying out our goals and vision, and this gives us some significant firepower to back those up.
Since these are always nice moments to reflect and thank people, let me take a moment to give a heartfelt thanks to our employees and clients, without whom we’d be nothing. We’re now over 100 people and 150 brands and each and every one of them has contributed so much over the last three years. The two most amazing parts about running a marketing technology company are getting to come to work with awesomely talented people on a day-to-day basis who have internalized the vision for the organization and made it their own, as well as getting the chance to work with some of the smartest marketers on the planet and sop up every bit of insight they have to offer. That’s what really drives this business.
Finally, a little pitch for Percolate:
Our vision is simple: we want to redefine marketing through technology. If you’re a marketer and that sounds intriguing, you should get in touch. If you’re working for someone else and you’d rather work for Percolate, we’re hiring all over the world.