CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 30 September 2021

All the latest martech and adtech news from Freshworks, NielsenIQ, Optimove, Bigeye, ActionIQ, Blackbird.AI, Litmus and Talkwalker

Freshworks goes public with US$10bn+ valuation

Freshworks has raised more than US$1 billion in its September initial public offering, pushing up its market valuation to in excess of $10 billion.

The CRM vendor priced 28.5 million shares at $36 per share for its Nasdaq debut on 22 September 2021, higher than the originally intended $32 - $34 share price expected, thanks to the popularity of the IPO. The vendor is reportedly the first India-born software products startup to list on the US stock exchange.

The vendor was founded by CEO, Girish Mathrubootham, and CTO, Shanmugam Krishnasamy, in 2020 as Freshdesk, then rebranded to Freshworks in 2017. Their goal was to create a ‘fresh’ helpdesk in response to a poor customer service experience Mathrubootham experienced.

Freshworks today specialises in customer support and hosts messaging platforms and AI-backed chatbots. Its main offerings are cloud-native CRM, ITSM and HR tools. It has over 50,000 customers globally.

The IPO proceeds are earmarked for working capital, operating expenses and capital expenditures, with acquisitions or strategic investments in complementary businesses, services and technologies, including intellectual property rights, it said. Freshworks last year acquired Indian IT orchestration and cloud management platform, Flint, as well as AI-based agent assistance specialist, AnswerIQ.

  • With additional reporting by CIO India’s Poojitha Jayadevan

NielsenIQ confirms two acquisitions

Global measurement and data analytics vendor, NielsenIQ, has confirmed two acquisitions it expects will shore up its position around omnichannel solutions.

The company is firstly acquiring Data Impact, an ecommerce intelligence player operating in 40 markets, in order to improve its omnichannel measurement service. Nielsen said the combination of Data Impact’s hypergranular view of banner and store-level ecommerce insights with its own retail measurement offerings will help deliver scale and capability internationally.

Nielsen is also acquiring Rakuten Intelligence, three years after the pair struck an exclusive deal that saw Rakuten Intelligence’s ecommerce purchase panel in the US combined with NielsenIQ’s retail sales data. The purchase is being positioned as a way to deliver more integrated online and offline measurement across custom client hierarchies, underpinned by the Nielsen Connect platform. The first product to result from this alliance is NielsenIQ’s Omnisales offering.

The vendor said the ambition was to provide retailers and manufacturers with a harmonised, granular and consistent view of customers across channels in order to better understand and react to consumers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We will be able to provide a single number for online sales measurement through multi-sourced data - the truth the market needs - and we will also deliver ecommerce execution recommendations with unrivalled actionability,” said NielsenIQ head of international ecommerce measurement, Clément Colin. “With unique scale and granularity, the landscape of opportunities is unlimited.”

Optimove raises US$75m

Optimove says its latest US$75 million capital raise will be used to support mergers and acquisitions, strategic hiring and expansion of its CRM Marketing Hub.

The company this week confirmed its most significant fundraising round to date, led by growth investor, Summit Partners. Prior to the latest cash injection, Optimove had raised US$20 million over the past 10 years.

In a blog post, Optimove founder, Pini Yakuel, said the company chalked up 40 per cent over the past 12 months, buoyed by growing global ecommerce take-up. Optimove’s platform aims to give marketing teams direct access to customer data and the ability to build, test, and optimise CRM campaigns. The tech is now used to send 23 billion optimised messages to over 3 billion customers every year by 2200 users from over 500 brands across ecommerce, gaming, retail, QSR, telecommunications and financial services.

“This new capital positions us to accelerate our growth further, expand our global footprint, and cement our position as category leaders,” he stated. “This financing will support our continued investment in strategic hiring and M&A - something we successfully ventured into once or twice before, expansion of our platform’s capabilities and further acceleration of our overall rapid growth.”

Yakuel also flagged plans to double headcount by the end of next year. Off the back of the raise, Summit Partners head of Europe, Han Sikkens, and managing director, Steffan Peyer join Optimove’s board of directors.

Bigeye score US$45m

Also raising funds this week is Bigeye, a vendor focused on data monitoring, compliance and management. The company has raised US$45 million in Series B funding to scale its ‘data observability’ platform and grow its market footprint.

The latest funding round was led by Coatue with participation from existing investors, Sequoia Capital and Costanoa Ventures, and comes off the back of a $17 million Series A round six months ago. This brings total funding in Bigeye to $66 million to date.  

The cash injection also comes after four consecutive quarters of doubling usage as well as new customer wins including Clubhouse, Recharge and Udacity. Bigeye said it plans to scale its team to address the rising demand for data observability and continue building on its product leadership.

Bigeye’s platform is used to quantify and improve data quality and ensure reliable data pipelines for business-critical applications including self-service analytics, machine learning and AI initiatives and third-party data ingestion.

ActionIQ debuts advertiser CDP

ActionIQ has taken the wrappers off an advertiser-oriented customer data platform (CDP) solution to address the impending demise of third-party cookies.

The vendor said its Customer Experience for Advertisers solution aims to address the changes disrupting the digital advertising industry and is designed for marketers who will need to increase their reliance on first-party customer data in light of the looming demise of third-party cookies and other changes to user-tracking capabilities.

Specific capabilities include real-time data collection and identity append via the ActionIQ Tag, the ability to augment first-party identities, both cookie and non-cookie-based IDs, with third-party identity providers to expand reach and accuracy, and built-in ‘lookalike’ models to expand audience reach for prospecting and retargeting strategies. ActionIQ said it’s also struck dozens of direct downstream media integrations to enable seamless targeting and suppression across the advertising ecosystem.

Disinformation startup raises US$10m

Our final investment raising news item this week is from Blackbird.AI, which has raised US$10 million in Series funding A for its AI-powered Disinformation Intelligence Platform.

The Series A round was led by Dorilton Ventures, with participation from new investors including Generation Ventures, Trousdale Ventures, StartFast Ventures and former chief counter-terrorism advisor for the US Government National Security Council, Richard Clarke. The plan is to scale up engineering and sales teams, fast-track new product development and accelerate platform adoption by a global client base.

Blackbird.AI’s origins are in the national security space. The vendor’s Constellation Engine is driven by proprietary algorithms and designed to empower analysts and decision-makers to respond quickly to harmful information campaigns by surfacing complex relationships and insights within billions of data points in real-time.

“Industrialised disinformation is the scourge of the digital world,” commented Dorilton Ventures’ Daniel Freeman. “Until now, bad actors have operated with impunity from behind a cloak of confusion to distort reality for companies and private citizens alike. Dorilton Ventures is very proud to partner with Blackbird.AI to build a powerful platform that tackles this problem algorithmically and at Internet speed and scale.”

According to figures quoted by the vendor, the cost of disinformation campaigns is rising exponentially and estimated to have been worth $78 billion in 2020. Spending on threat intelligence is growing at an estimated 17 per cent per annum according to Gartner forecasts.

Blackbird.AI CTO and co-founder, Dr. Naushad UzZaman, explained its system “deconstructs the flow of information and exposes underlying dynamics through a combination of signals related to narratives, networks and how they are being influenced by manipulation and deception”.

The company also recently formed a partnership with communications agency, Weber Shandwick, focused on helping companies enhance media security practices by understanding harmful information risks that can impact their businesses.

Litmus integrates with Adobe Journey Optimizer

Email marketing player, Litmus, has integrated its platform with Adobe Journey Optimizer in a bid to bring real-time customer engagement insights into email campaign activities.

Adobe Journey Optimizer sits within the Adobe Experience Cloud application and used to manage and deliver more personalised email and digital marketing activities. Through the integration between Litmus’ Email Previews and Adobe Journey Optimizer, users can test emails as they build, as well as leverage engagement insights from Litmus in email campaign creation and management.

Marketers using the Litmus Email Previews application and Adobe Journey Optimizer can access real-time previews across more than 100 email clients and devices within email design. Adobe Journey Optimizer users will gain access to additional Litmus email testing, a review and approvals preview tool, additional security features and customer analytics and insights.

Talkwalker ups the ante on intelligence

Social listening platform vendor, Talkwalker, has debuted two new products to extend its consumer intelligence offering, the Consumer Intelligence Acceleration Platform.

The Talkwalker platform now includes two new solutions. The first is Market Intelligence, aimed at providing consumer trends analysis and real-time industry datasets and apps for a number of industries including consumers goods, entertainment and health and wellness. A second offering, Customer Intelligence, creates a single customer view by combining customer and consumer data, social, ratings and reviews. Again, the aim is surfacing real-time actionable insights.

These sit alongside Social Intelligence, Talkwalker’s deep social listening platform, which has also been expanded.

Talkwalker also announced two further pieces of news this week. The first is the debut of its professional services Talkwalker Activate team to offer training, onboarding and insights to clients. The vendor has also become a Twitter Official Partner, which means it’s recognised as a vetted, best-in-class solution for brands. Talkwalker now becomes one of 13 companies globally with this partner accreditation.


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