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Percolate, a marketing software startup, raises $40 million to make the CMO’s life simpler

May 14, 2015, 11:30 AM UTC
contract Armin Harris. Kyle Bean for Fortune
Kyle Bean for Fortune

Sales teams have customer relationship management tools to track pipelines. Division heads consult enterprise resource planning software for insights into production. Finance departments glean all sorts of data from accounting software.

If you think about it, pretty much every corporate function has a centralized software system of record, except for the chief marketing officer and the marketing team. Four-year-old software company Percolate wants to change that, and it just found more investors who believe in its mission.

The four-year-old startup has closed $40 million in Series C financing led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, even though it still has money in the bank from a $24 million round disclosed in March 2014, said co-founder and President James Gross. The infusion brings the New York-based company’s total backing $74.5 million, although the valuation isn’t being made public.

The company’s other backers include Sequoia Capital (which led its last round), GGV Capital, First Round Capital, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

Percolate’s software is tough to categorize, because it cuts across content marketing, social media management and applications that manage specific marketing tasks, such as campaign performance. In essence, the startup hopes to provide a single orchestration point where marketers can juggle literally dozens of marketing and advertising tools. Percolate figures the average Fortune 500 team uses at least 50 of them.

“What we want to provide the CMO is not just performance insights, how the message is performing, we really want to measure and analyze the planning and production process and how we can make it better,” Gross said.

Percolate is finding clients among multinational businesses that have multiple brands to manage. It counts more than 200 customers, including seven of the world’s biggest consumer packaged goods companies. Some high-profile accounts include ABInBev, Airbnb, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Mattel, and Unilever.

“Percolate continues to execute on a vision that systematizes marketing at a global scale, at a time when brand consistency needs to meet the demands of 24×7, multi-channel communications,” said Lightspeed partner Will Kohler, commenting on his firm’s investment. “Their platform understands the workflows that put marketers firmly in control of their future, and we’re excited to lead this financing.”

In its recent report on “social relationship platforms,” technology analysis firm Forrester Research recommends Percolate as practical way to integrate social media efforts into broader marketing strategies. The firm is designated a “leader” for the category. “The platform boasts best-in-class workflow and content creation tools; its Brew content recommendation is the most sophisticated we’ve seen,” the firm writes in its report. That said, the company has room for improvement in sentiment analysis, social network integration (it only monitors Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and scheduling features, according to Forrester.

Because Percolate’s ambition is so broad, its sales team has a lot of positioning to do. Aside from competing with point solutions for content marketing or social mediate management, the company often finds itself justifying its strategy vis a vis the marketing “clouds” sold by Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce.

The new funds are specifically earmarked for a hiring spree in San Francisco, where the company plans to triple its headcount to almost 50 people this year. Percolate expects to increase its total workforce from 200 to 300 by yearend. It also plans to recruit for offices in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

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