Madrona Venture Group made the first investment out of its Acceleration Fund, launched earlier this year to both expand the firm’s geographical reach and invest in more mature startups that have evolved beyond Madrona’s typical early-stage investments.
Clari, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup that makes artificial intelligence-powered revenue operations software, raised $60 million. Sapphire Ventures led the Series D round with participation from Madrona and existing investors Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures and Tenaya Capital.
Clari’s software applies AI and machine learning techniques to data from CRM systems, marketing tools, customer success tools, email, calendar and more to guide revenue forecasts. More than 25,000 sales, marketing, customer success and go-to-market professionals across 170 countries at companies like Qualtrics, Lenovo, Adobe, Dropbox, Zoom and Okta use Clari’s software.
Intelligent applications that bring together and analyze information from a variety of sources are right in Madrona’s wheelhouse, S. Somasegar, managing director, wrote in a blog post about why Clari was the first Acceleration Fund investment. The leadership team, use of technologies like AI and ML and customer reviews also played a role.
“Hearing things like ‘sales folks just love the product’, ‘my CEO doesn’t ask me for forecast information anymore and just looks at Clari’s forecast’, ‘my Board member’s first question always on the plan is how does this relate to Clari’s forecast”, etc. reinforce how Clari’s core value proposition resonates strongly with customers,” Somasegar said.
Madrona is best known as an early-stage investor — including an insightful gamble on Amazon in the 1990s by managing director Tom Alberg, who just stepped off the Amazon board — and the Acceleration Fund represents a new play in the 24-year-old firm’s playbook. Madrona struck gold with early bets on Apptio, Impinj, Smartsheet and Redfin. Madrona says the new fund ensures it can invest in companies at later stages of growth.