New funding: Seattle startup Highspot today announced a $75 million “Series D-1” investment round, bringing total funding for the 7-year-old company to more than $200 million. Existing investors ICONIQ Capital; Madrona Venture Group; OpenView; Salesforce Ventures; and Sapphire Ventures all participated. Highspot wasn’t looking for fresh cash but there is “incredible investor excitement about this $50 billion category,” CEO Robert Wahbe told GeekWire. Highspot raised $60 million in June as part of the original Series D round.
AI-fueled sales software: Highspot aims to help make salespeople more efficient, equipping its users with artificial intelligence-infused technology to improve how they have conversations with prospective buyers. Its “sales enablement platform” is a sales playbook of sorts, analyzing hoards of internally-produced information — historical data; marketing presentations; case studies; data sheets; etc. — and then applying AI to optimize the selling process. Highspot also provides communication and analytics tools. It has expanded recently to help not only salespeople but anyone who talks to customer, such as a customer service rep fielding technical questions.
Key last mile: Over the past two decades, software has helped go-to-market companies with various automation tasks related to sales, marketing, support, and more. Wahbe said Highspot compliments all those tools as part of the “key last mile,” or the actual conversations with customers. “We come in and say, how should you engage? What does it mean to have an effective engagement?” Wahbe explained. “That is the missing layer of software between the strategy companies have for go-to-market, and the underlying system that records all the action.”
AI and job displacement: While artificial intelligence is at the center of Highspot’s platform, Wahbe doesn’t expect robots to replace salespeople anytime soon. He said the sales process is “art and science,” with technology helping the latter, such as Highspot’s new SmartPage feature that provides customer-facing teams with automated guidance. “The science is there to empower the individual to have that effective human-to-human personal conversation,” said Wahbe.
Metrics: Highspot’s lifetime customers, users, and annual recurring revenue has more than doubled year-over-year. The company was a finalist for AI Innovation of the Year at the 2019 GeekWire Awards and just made Deloitte’s list of the 500 fastest-growing tech companies in North America.
IPO? Highspot is not profitable but aims to get there, especially if the company enters the public market. “Whether it’s Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow — we are following essentially the same pattern,” Wahbe said. “Establish leadership in a category on the way to profitability, but preserving that growth.”
New digs: Highspot employs around 400 people across the world — that’s up from 100 a year ago, when the company raised a $35 million Series C round — with a majority in Seattle, where it will move into a new headquarters space later this month. Highspot will continue hiring in Seattle but it also plans on expanding internationally, including in Europe and Asia.
Founder roots: Wahbe got the idea for Highspot when he was working at Microsoft, where he spent 16 years equipping sales teams with necessary information to help craft perfect pitches to potential customers. He founded the company seven years ago with former colleagues with Oliver Sharp and David Wortendyke. A GeekWire analysis from July showed that Microsoft veterans lead nearly 25 percent of Seattle region’s top tech startups.