J.P. Morgan leads a huge investment in this hot cloud startup

October 7, 2015, 11:00 AM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

J.P. Morgan’s investment arm, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, led a whopping $140 million funding round in the cloud startup, AppDirect, the company said on Wednesday. With the funding, AppDirect is now valued at a little over $1 billion, earning it a spot on Fortune’s list of so-called unicorn startups.

Previous investors also participated in the funding round including the Foundry Group, iNovia Capital, StarVest Partners, Stingray Digital Group, and Mithril Capital Management. AppDirect now has $245 million in total funding.

AppDirect specializes in building and managing virtual stores where users can buy cloud-based software services, like Salesforce.com (CRM) and Box (BOX). It’s similar to Apple’s App Store in which users can buy Apple-sanctioned software, except AppDirect’s virtual marketplaces only contain business software.

The company builds these virtual stores for clients like AT&T (T) and Deutsche Telekom that want to sell apps to their customers but don’t want to create and manage the technology that powers it, AppDirect co-CEO Daniel Saks said in an interview with Fortune.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management first contacted AppDirect shortly after the company’s last funding round in February to ask about investing more money in the startup, Saks explained. With a willing investor in J.P. Morgan (JPM), the startup decided to formally raise another funding round with the intention to use the cash to expand its worldwide operations, he explained.

Although U.S.-based executives generally know the names of big cloud software companies like Salesforce.com and Box, such cloud companies are less known overseas, Saks said. As a result, foreign businesses are less willing to buy cloud software from U.S. companies.

AppDirect is betting that by providing virtual stores to international clients like Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, foreign companies will be more inclined to buy U.S.-based cloud software because of it being sold through a company they recognize.

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