- Highspot uses machine learning to help salespeople land and retain customers by organizing and recommending the types of sales content, such as brochures or case studies, most likely to help them win a deal.
- The Seattle-based startup was cofounded by a former Microsoft exec who served as a chief marketing officer under Satya Nadella.
- Highspot announced $75 million in funding from existing investors ICONIQ Capital, Madrona Venture Group, OpenView, Salesforce Ventures, and Sapphire Ventures.
- The funding follows a $60 million Series D round in June. The company declined to reveal its valuation, but PitchBook estimated it was worth $530 million at the end of its June funding round.
- Highspot now has 375 employees and plans to grow to 700 employees by the end of 2020, including aggressively hiring engineering, product management and design roles based in Seattle.
- Highspot has focused on providing a platform for salespeople but now, with the latest funding, it plans to expand its services.
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Robert Wahbe left his job at Microsoft in 2012, a couple of years before his boss Satya Nadella would become CEO.
Now the startup that Wahbe left Microsoft to launch has achieved a big milestone of its own. Highspot, Wahbe's Seattle-based startup, has raised $200 million from investors including Salesforce's venture capital arm and has partnerships with Salesforce and Microsoft.
Companies such as Microsoft and Salesforce sell customer relationship management software that helps salespeople record interactions with current and potential customers, such as when they were last contacted and where they are in the sales process.
"It turns out those systems don't tell you how to engage those customers effectively so that you … either become or stay a customer," he said. "Highspot helps teams understand how to engage those customers – what to know and what to say."
Highspot on Wednesday announced $75 million in funding from existing investors ICONIQ Capital, Madrona Venture Group, OpenView, Salesforce Ventures, and Sapphire Ventures. The funding follows a $60 million Series D round in June. The company declined to reveal its valuation, but PitchBook estimated it was worth $530 million after the June funding round.How it works
Large enterprise companies might have 50,000 pieces of content, such as brochures or case studies, available for salespeople to use to court customers, Wahbe said.
Because of the sheer volume of documents, a lot of those pieces go unused. Highspot's software is meant to help salespeople organize all those pieces and provide guidance about how and when to use them to maximize their chances of landing or keeping a customer.
For example, when a salesperson is about to contact a potential customer, Highspot uses machine learning to analyze data including on the interactions the salesperson has had with that customer and can recommend the three or four case studies most likely to help them win the deal.Highspot's origins
Wahbe joined Microsoft in 1996 after the company acquired his first startup, a software maker called Colusa. He stayed at the company for more than 15 years, ultimately serving the corporate vice president who ran marketing for Microsoft's server and tools division, which Nadella ran before took over for Steve Ballmer in 2014 as Microsoft's CEO.
Wahbe left the company to start Highspot out of a rented house with his two cofounders Oliver Sharp, the former general manager of strategy for Microsoft's server and tools division, and David Wortendyke, a former partner architect for Microsoft's Azure cloud computing business.
Wahbe said the "moment of truth" for Highspot was when it landed its first large enterprise customer SAP Concur in 2015.
At the time, the company had commercial and small and medium business customers but was just starting to ask big customers to put their time, reputation and money on the line and work with a startup, Wahbe said.
He remembers driving to the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery about eight miles north of Microsoft's headquarters to a venture capital event where Satya Nadella would be attending at 7 p.m. on a weekday when he got a call from SAP Concur.
"I was driving in the dark and in the rain when I got a call from business contact at this major enterprise and thought, "Is this going to be good news or is this going to be bad news?'," he said. "They decided to adopt our platform – it's a great feeling when you start to feel validation."
Since then, Wahbe said Highspot has doubled year over year in metrics including revenue, user count and customer count, though Highspot declined to share actual figures for those metrics.What's next
Highspot has focused on providing a platform to salespeople but now, with the latest funding, it plans to expand its services to other groups within a company who interact with customers such as services and support.
Highspot now has 375 employees and plans to grow to 700 employees by the end of 2020, including aggressively hiring engineering, product management and design roles based in Seattle.
Highspot's website list 26 open positions, but the company may be hiring for more than one person per position, and it has space for about 800 employees in its Seattle headquarters.
Wahbe said the startup plans to grow across offices in the UK, Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa and potentially in the Asia-Pacific region.
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