Martech company Iterable just raised $60 million in what it calls its last funding round, and plans to use it to take on Salesforce and Oracle and get profitable

Iterable co-founder and CEO Justin Zhu

  • A growing number of marketing tech companies are trying to help
    brands make sure the messages they send to customers are
    relevant.
  • Iterable is a 6-year-old, San Francisco-based firm that raised
    $60 million in series D funding led by Viking Global Investors,
    bringing its total funding to more than $140 million.
  • It wants to take on big marketing cloud companies like
    Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe with its platform that lets marketers
    create, run, and tweak communications with customers through email,
    texts, and the like.
  • Iterable counts Priceline, Evernote, Zillow, and SeatGeek as
    customers. 
  • It plans to use the new funding to grow its headcount to 400
    from 300, build its AI and data-privacy capabilities, and get
    profitable.
  • But martech has become hotly competitive, and it’ll be hard to
    win big clients that are tied up in years-long contracts with the
    big marketing clouds.
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The battle to manage marketers’ customer relationships is
heating up. 

Iterable, a 6-year-old San Francisco-based firm, is announcing
today that it has raised $60 million in series D funding led by
Viking Global Investors, along with Index Venture, CRV, Blue Cloud
Ventures, Harmony Partners, and Stereo Capital, bringing its total
funding to more than $140 million.

Iterable has a platform that lets brands send messages to people
by email, text, and in-app and on-site messaging. It sells software
as a service (SaaS) to companies based on the number of contacts
they have and volume of messages sent. Its typical enterprise
contract starts at $200,000 and goes up to $1 million or so.
Priceline, Evernote, Zillow, and SeatGeek are clients.

Justin Zhu, cofounder and CEO of Iterable, said this funding
round would be the company’s last as it focuses on getting
profitable. He said the company would use the funding to bolster
its platform and build its list of marketing tech partners. He said
he expected headcount to grow to 400 by the end of 2020, from 300
now.

“Our focus is to bring Iterable’s CRM to the mainstream, to be a
fourth option outside Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe,” he said. 

People are being bombarded with more marketing messages than
ever, and there are all kinds of companies helping marketers make
sure they don’t get ignored. A November Forrester report titled
“The Forrester Wave: Cross-Channel Campaign Management (Independent
Platforms)” listed Iterable as one of nine independent vendors
including Sailthru and Cheetah Digital that are trying to win
marketers’ business in this area.

But Zhu is also going up against the big marketing cloud
companies like Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe, which are also
building up their CRM businesses. Salesforce took a big step in
that direction when it
acquired Tableau for $15.7 billion
earlier this year.

The Forrester report characterized Iterable as a “strong
performer” among independent vendors, with strength in areas like
strategy and market presence. Customers said Iterable had a “super
fast email solution with an intuitive interface,” Forrester wrote
in the report.

But it also ranked Iterable low in areas like user experience,
delivery model, and said Iterable lagged in the area of mobile
engagement automation.

Guy Horrocks, who founded Carnival Labs, a mobile marketing
automation platform that was sold to Sailthru, is well versed in
Iterable and its competitors. He said Iterable’s advantages are
that it works across channels, is easy to use, is winning some tech
savvy customers that have scale, and has an opportunity to get a
jump on personalization, which marketers are still new to. 

On the other hand, it’ll be hard for Iterable to crack big
legacy marketers because they’re tied up in multi-year deals with
big marketing cloud companies that have more features and are
willing to keep prices low to keep them, he said. There has been
tons of money flowing into marketing tech, and as a result, there
are a lot of other competitors, some of which have better email
products, in his view.

“It’s an intensely competitive space,” Horrocks said.

Iterable says it plans to compete on personalization

Zhu’s argument is that Iterable has a leg up over companies like
Salesforce that built their CRM platforms by buying other
companies. Companies like Iterable also position themselves as
giving marketers flexibility to use multiple vendors to manage and
use the data they gather on customers versus the big marketing
clouds with their one-stop-shop approach. 

In terms of Iterable’s platform, he’s pitching its ability to
help companies comply with privacy laws and personalize their
messages. Iterable assigns scores to consumers based on how engaged
they are with the company, and suggests different messages
depending on their engagement level.

“Consumers are sick of being targeted, so it’ll be difficult to
track people unless they explicitly opt in,” he said. “And it’s
going to be an era of first-party data. We help customers use all
the data they have permission to use.”

SEE ALSO: Marketing-tech
company Sprinklr has acquired the social media business of one of
Facebook’s oldest marketing partners


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Martech company Iterable just raised million in what it calls its last funding round, and plans to use it to take on Salesforce and Oracle and get profitable