RealTime IT News

Salesforce.Com Raises $35m to Fund Expansion

Online sales automation service Salesforce.Com announced closing another $35m in funding today, bringing total funding to $52m since the company was formed in March 1999.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based company said it will use this newest round of funding to expand its product offering and grow operations domestically and abroad.

Investors in the latest round include Credit Suisse First Boston and WR Hambrecht & Co, as well as individuals Ted Waitt, CEO of computer manufacturer Gateway, and Stratton Sclavos, CEO of Internet security company VeriSign.

Salesforce.Com's original cast of investors include a glittering array of Silicon Valley celebrities. As well as company chairman Marc Benioff, a former Oracle executive, they include Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, CNET chairman Halsey Minor, KLA Tencor's founder Bob Anderson, and Bill Hambrecht, chairman of investment bank WR Hambrecht & Co.

Since launching its product early in February, Salesforce.com has signed up more than 4,000 companies for its service, and is currently recruiting 150 more each day. Later that month at a San Francisco party billed as "The End of Software," it launched its go-to-market strategy, unveiling alliances with BigStep.com, eBizServ.com, Fortune, inc.com and pcOrder.com. Its advertising budget this year is estimated to be in excess of $10m.

The completely Web-based sales force automation service is free for a year for the first five users, and costs $50 per user per month for each additional user. At the end of the first year, the first five users are billed a single $50 monthly fee, while extra users continue to pay $50 per month each.

The service can be implemented in hours for access any time, anywhere from a Web browser. It also synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook and handheld computers such as the Palm Pilot. Businesses can share information entered by users and can customize reports so managers and sales people can measure performance, track deals in the pipeline or create forecasts. It plans to add other customer relationship management functionality later on.

Alongside the application it provides business information such as news, stock and financial updates, and services including gift giving, directions and restaurant listings.

Explaining his personal decision to invest in the business, VeriSign's Sclavos said: "By the 2003, it is estimated that online business services will be a $6.6 billion market. Salesforce.com has defined the future of software and has the management team in place to maintain its leadership position in this space."