Many companies linked to customers by smartphones and sales software have obvious questions about the data they collect — such as, Who else sells to these folks? And, How can we find them, and work with them to sell more?
Robert J. Moore and Buck Ryan, former CEO and boss engineer, respectively, at business-intelligence platform RJMetrics (now part of Adobe), said Wednesday that they have convinced venture capitalists from Boston to San Francisco to pump $12.5 million into their Center City firm Crossbeam. It has signed up more than 100 U.S. companies (including marketing platforms Guru, Heap, Sendoso, and Uberflip) to safely answer those questions, and find clients new business partners by letting Crossbeam compare their data.
“People have said we’re ‘Tinder for business partnerships.' We enable you to try out partners before you buy,” said Moore.
Users of Crossbeam’s free software, told they have a potential match, must upgrade to the paid service, costing thousands of dollars a year “and up” to learn details on which other companies are a good fit to pursue common customers with linked services, for example.
As with the “data rooms” investment bankers set up for potential buyers to view a company’s intimate financials, Crossbeam says it offers private, secure, regulator-compliant comparisons of customer data.
The investors in Crossbeam are led by FirstMark Capital, the New York firm that also backed Pinterest, the freelancer site Upwork , Berwyn-based Boomi (now part of Oracle), and ex-Boomi boss Rick Nucci’s Philadelphia-based Guru, among others.
Crossbeam, started in early 2018, raised its initial $3.35 million last July, and has hired 15 engineers and managers. Plans are to use the new cash to double the staff.
“We’re excited to be doing this in Philly. It’s different than back [when he co-founded RJMetrics] in 2008, the maturity of the talent and the start-up ecosystem,” Moore said. Philadelphia’s software scene has evolved to where “you can build a team here. We have a generally healthy mix of people coming in” from corporate employers such as Comcast, university engineering staff, and, increasingly, rival start-ups, Moore says.
Previous Crossbeam investors First Round Capital of Philadelphia, Silicon Valley-based Uncork Capital, and San Francisco-based Slack Fund joined FirstMark in this round of financing. So did new investors HubSpot Ventures of Boston and Salesforce Investors, the venture arm of the San Francisco business software giant.
“It’s been a pretty quick run,” said Moore. What about Philly’s old reputation as a town that lacks growth capital, forcing start-ups to expand elsewhere? It’s tough, he agreed, to get Silicon Valley or Boston-area investors to buy into start-ups far from home — but less tough when you have a track record: “History, credibility, outcomes, and being well-networked among venture circles” can “mitigate” mere distance. "Having recently sold a company successfully and worked with VCs who had a good experience, it gives us a place to start the conversation.”
Moore, a Princeton grad, and Ryan, a Drexel grad, started Crossbeam after selling part of RJMetrics, a business intelligence platform, to Magento Commerce (now part of Adobe) in 2016 for somewhere north of the $23 million investors had pumped in since 2008. They reorganized the rest into data pipeline company Stitch — then sold it for an extra $60 million to Talend two years later. (RJMetrics co-founder Jake Stein now runs Stitch for Talend.)
FirstMark’s business-to-business software specialist Matt Turck has joined the Crossbeam board as part of the deal. “Crossbeam really resonated with me as [solving] a quintessential example of a data problem that’s poorly addressed by spreadsheets and other ad hoc solutions,” Turck said in a statement. “Sharing data across organizations” is becoming “a routine business practice,” and Crossbeam offers a secure, private, reliable way.
“Crossbeam is taking a powerful, data-driven approach to empower companies to find overlapping customers and prospects to build more valuable partnerships,” said Matthew Garratt, managing partner at Salesforce Ventures.
Separately, Ben Franklin Technology Partners says its Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund (GO Philly Fund) has picked its first two investments, in a pair of Philadelphia marketing software platform makers: