Inside one of the most interesting strategic partnerships the cloud has ever seen.
Image Credit:Courtesy Company
Jordan Kretchmer founded Livefyre four years ago. Today, it employs more than 150 people and is still growing fast. Here, he’s pictured in the company’s new office near Market Street in San Francisco.
Livefyre’s latest deal just got a lot hotter.
After rounding up $15 million in fresh investment from venture-capital firms, it added $32 million in outside funding from a mix of investors and a pair of strategic partners, two seriously heavy hitters who could help determine the future of the business.
Both Salesforce and Adobe–the two biggest players in the cloud-marketing space–are investing heavily in Livefyre, the San Francisco based social-media curation platform, which licenses its technology to more than 700 major brands and media companies. They invested equally, according to Livefyre’s founder and CEO, Jordan Kretchmer, in what will be the company’s fourth major funding round–known as a Series D.
“What we do fills a unique gap that neither of them have,” says Kretchmer, who pointed out that this is the first time both Adobe and Salesforce have invested alongside each other. He also claims that he observed no animosity between the companies during the fundraising, and that each was fully aware of the other’s participation. “They were really interested in our take on content, and how real-time content interacts with brand marketing.”
Not familiar with Livefyre? Actually, you probably are. You’ve seen it used for aggregating social-media feeds, comments, and other community news if you’ve visited CNN or any site run by News Corp, owner of the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Fox News. Here’s what I wrote about the company when Kretchmer was featured as part of Inc.’s 2014 35 Under 35 package:
Livefyre, which calls itself the “world’s largest social-curation platform,” has 145 employees based in a massive, new, San Francisco office. Its product is quickly becoming one of the publishing backbones for media on the Internet; the company has built comment-management and social-media aggregation platforms for roughly 700 of the largest publishers in the world (these are enterprise customers, including AOL, CondÃ© Nast, and CBS, that pay for customized solutions or support; anyone can use Livefyre tools for free).
For its part, Livefyre is banking on its two new strategic partnerships to help scale its company from the operations side. It will also use the new millions in funding to help launch new products–particularly products that don’t require a lot of tech savvy by its customers. “The big goal is to start launching products that don’t require any code to integrate,” Kretchmer says. “There’s an appetite for the kind of content you can create easily and quickly. CNN, for instance, is already using our automated tools to create microsites.”
Kretchmer says Livefyre began discussions with Adobe approximately one year ago; the companies shared clients. “Those conversations led them to want to be closer to the business,” he said. Conversations with Salesforce sparked about six months ago.
With four rounds of funding–totaling $67.3 million–tucked under his hat, Kretchmer says its been fascinating how conversations with investors change over time, and how what he and Livefyre have sought has changed. Early on in the company’s life, he says he was looking for investors who could help with product development and connecting with customers. But now that Livefyre is quite large–for a startup, at least–it needs help supersizing itself.
“These were less like a normal VC conversation, like, ‘What are your CAC [customer-acquisition cost] ratios,’ but rather us asking, ‘how can we build a big company,’ and them wanting to help contribute. It was a very different process this time,” Kretchmer says.
There is, of course, another path Livefyre could take: acquisition by either of its new “strategic partners.” But Kretchmer demurred. “We don’t talk M&A stuff. They don’t talk M&A stuff,” he said. But let the trial period begin.