- Clari just raised another $60 million from new investors, including Sapphire Ventures.
- The Sequoia-backed AI cloud startup has now raised a total of $135 million, and its valuation has climbed to "just under half a billion," CEO and founder Andy Byrne told Business Insider.
- Sapphire had passed on the opportunity to invest in Clari last year. Sapphire President Jai Das said the VC firm had decided that Clari 's business "wasn't overwhelming."
- That turned out to be a mistake as Clari began attracting more customers, including big corporations like Adobe and Lenovo. "That was the 'aha' moment," Das said. That was when he said, "Oh shoot, we should have done that in the last round."
- Clari's platform uses AI to turn data collected from a company's sales, marketing, account management operations into insights that different teams could use to win over new customers or make sure their current clients are satisfied.
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Sapphire Ventures had the chance to invest in Clari last year, but the VC firm decided that the cloud startup, which uses AI to help businesses manage revenue operations, just wasn't that impressive.
"The adoption was there but it wasn't overwhelming," Jai Das, Sapphire's president and managing director, told Business Insider.
That turned out to be a mistake, he said. Within a year after that last funding round, Clari had begun attracting enterprise customers, such as Adobe and Lenovo, and more startups, including some that Sapphire had invested in.
"That was the 'Aha' moment," Das said. That was when he said, "Oh shoot, we should have done that in the last round…It was our bad that we didn't understand how big the opportunity was when they did their Series C."
On Thursday, Clari announced that it has raised another $60 million from new investors, led by Sapphire Ventures. With this Series D round, Clari, which is also backed by prominent firm Sequoia Capital, has raised a total of $135 million in venture funding.
CEO and founder Andy Byrne said the startup's valuation is now at "just under half a billion." He called the funding round "a fascinating journey."
"We weren't looking to raise any money," he told Business Insider. "But we had a massive amount of interest from different firms."
Less than three weeks to close the deal
The funding negotiations took less than three weeks, he said. "My board was blown away."
Clari's platform uses AI to turn data collected from a company's sales, marketing, account management operations into insights that different teams could use to win over new customers or make sure their current clients are satisfied.
Clari's rise underscores the growing interest in using AI to mine a company's data to revamp or fine tune every aspect of its revenue-related operations. A January Gartner report said AI "has permanently transformed the guided selling capabilities that sellers use to engage with prospects, manage deals and generate quotes."
Das of Sapphire says for many of these business software companies, winning a new customers is just one step. "They live or die by their customer renewals and up sells and churn and everything. Getting the first deal in is only part of the problem you need to solve."
He said Clari's momentum actually became clear during some board meetings he attended, where companies report how their sales operations are doing. The board has started to consult Clari's software itself to predict, or "call," the near-term performance of the company — as a way to augment more traditional accounting methods.
"As soon as the VP of sales puts down a forecast, everybody on the board asks, 'Okay, that's your forecast. What is Clari calling?''' Das said "It has become part of the board parlance."