I’m delighted to announce that BrightFunnel has raised a $6 Million Series A, led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from Salesforce Ventures. This is an important milestone for the company, and I’d like to share my thoughts on what this means for us, for our customers and the market.

But first, the facts:

  • This funding milestone comes on the heels of an incredible year, growing 14-15% month-over-month (500%+ CAGR), and more importantly, adding incredible validation from having the most demanding data-driven marketers, such as Cloudera, Invoca, New Relic and Five9, as our customers.
  • The round was oversubscribed, and all of our previous institutional seed investors also participated: Bloomberg Beta, Karlin Ventures, Resolute Ventures and Tekton Ventures. Thank you for your support!
  • David Silverman of Crosslink joins our Board of Directors. Besides the obvious benefits of David being an incredibly nice and intelligent person, he brings a lot of domain expertise to the table. In fact, there are very few people with David’s depth of marketing tech and ad tech experience. He was a pre-IPO investor in Omniture (Adobe), and more recently, Bizo (LinkedIn), two of the most significant companies in the history of data-driven marketing.
  • With this new capital, we will do one of two things. Either we will buy a superyacht, if today’s holiday party progresses as I expect, or we will use the new capital to accelerate our growth, and to continue aggressively investing in our platform. To do this, we will need to hire exceptionally talented people at an even faster pace. (We’re hiring for a variety of positions in  sales, engineering, and everything in between).

What this means for the BrightFunnel team

I have to admit, before I’d raised money myself, I was somewhat cynical about funding announcements. (“Come back when you’ve turned a profit!” I’d yell silently at Twitter feed, in my best get-off-my-lawn voice, while shaking my first). But I’ve come to realize early stage fundraising and company-building is incredibly hard. Yes, it’s true that what really matters is how much value we create from the $6 million. As perspective, Tableau went public on $15 million raised (compared to the $9 million we’ve raised to date), and is now worth $7 billion. No pressure. My point is that of course, we shouldn’t be gaudily celebrating the money itself. But I’ve also come to realize that it’s equally true that a funding event be understood as an important public milestone that reflects a cluster of almost-impossible-to-achieve private milestones before it. And those tangible outcomes — in terms of product and customer success — only result when you combine incredible talent, hard work and grit. So heck yes, let’s give ourselves a big pat on the back, BrightFunnel team! Aeron chairs and motorized standing desks for everyone!! (Just kidding. those are really expensive. The build-your-own IKEA standing desk program will continue until morale improves).

What this means for our Customers

What I’d like to say to our customers is: you should be incredibly proud of what you’ve accomplished. You’re at the forefront, with us, of an incredibly powerful shift towards data-driven marketing. Together, we’re still one of the crazy ones, thinking about marketing performance measurement in new terms like “account-based, multi-touch attribution” and “marketing forecasting.” You’ve had the courage to go to your CFO and have the awkward conversation, “uh, no, actually, CRM and marketing automation didn’t solve that problem.” But what’s at stake is very real — your company’s financial performance and your team’s success and satisfaction. To achieve those goals, you had to push your organization towards the cutting edge of data-driven marketing. We hope to reward that courage with continued rapid innovation on our platform (and definitely more free food and wine for customers). We have ambitions far broader than what you see and use today, and I ask that you continue pushing us to be the very best, to shape the future of marketing together.

What this means for the Market

Finally, I want to reflect on what this milestone means for the market. I believe that our success is just one more datapoint indicating a much larger trend. The way that people buy is changing dramatically. We’ve all seen this in e-commerce, over the last decade and a half, and we’re more recently seeing these changes in B2B, as buyers change the way they buy, and businesses reach them in new ways. The combination of an always-on, mobile buyer and the emergence of new channels, such as social, has meant that a lot more of the buying cycle happens through interactions with various marketing campaigns — many of which are automated — vs. humans. In other words, Marketing is eating Sales. (Just think of what will happen when your chat-happy Gen Z relative becomes an enterprise IT buyer).

So as marketers, we have to shoulder a much greater burden than our predecessors for generating revenue. And we have to measure and be held accountable for our activities in entirely new ways. Consider a few of the benchmarks we published today: it takes an average of 17.6 campaign touches from lead to close. Half of those touches occur during the sales cycle. And while those sales cycles are 108 days on average, the total revenue cycle is 512 days, which is 32% longer than it was last year. I don’t know if that pace of change will continue, but these trends are very real. As you reflect on your own year ahead, I believe it’s worth asking what this means for your organization (and what your own metrics are). As for BrightFunnel, I believe our mission has never been more important: to connect marketing to revenue.