StarVest Partners has led a $21 million Series B funding round in Persado, which automates persuasive language used in digital marketing and other applications. Other participants in the funding round include Citi Ventures, American Express Ventures and existing investor Bain Capital Ventures.
Persado today announced it has closed $21 million in Series B funding, led by StarVest Partners, with participation from new investors Citi Ventures and American Express Ventures, and existing investor Bain Capital Ventures. The funding will be used to expand Persado’s sales, marketing, and product development for their ground-breaking persuasion automation platform, a new class of technology that uses computers to automate the creation of the most persuasive language used in digital marketing and other applications.
“Our team is focused on investing in next-generation technologies, and Persado’s offering has the potential to improve the way financial services companies engage with customers,” said Arvind Purushotham, Managing Director, Citi Ventures. “Persado generates messages based on data and insight into what resonates with customers and enables companies to create more meaningful dialogue.”
Citi engaged Persado technology in its credit card business and, to date, its email open rates have increased by 70 percent and click-to-open rates by 114 percent using this software.
Persado’s persuasion automation platform leverages a field of computer science called natural language processing. The software uses semantic algorithms to engineer the optimal pitch for any given persuasive communication, selecting from all possible combinations of emotional appeals, feature descriptions, and formatting elements.
“Persado’s semantics-based platform reduces the guesswork for marketers and allows them to more effectively communicate with their target audiences through a scientific selection of words,” said Rohit Bodas, Partner, American Express Ventures. “We are pleased to be investing in technology that can help create a more relevant and engaging marketing experience that benefits both marketers and consumers alike.”
Persado saw a profound acceleration in customer uptake in 2014, its second year of commercial operations. Total customers expanded 300 percent, primarily driven by strong demand within financial, retail, telecommunications, and travel and hospitality sectors, among customers based in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Funds from the new round will enable the company to launch additional products beyond their core enterprise offering, while also growing sales and marketing worldwide.
“Persuasion automation represents a new class of technology that has far-ranging applications,” said Alex Vratskides, CEO and Co-founder of Persado. “In addition to digital marketing and advertising, the use of optimal language designed to drive action extends to areas like digital health, persuading patients to stick to doctors’ recommendations; transactions, persuading people to pay bills; citizen compliance, persuading people not to litter or encouraging them to enroll for healthcare; and elections and social media applications, such as on-line dating. In all cases, Persado is using math and science to eliminate the guesswork of copywriting.”
In addition to the new funding, Persado announced that it had added two members to its board of directors, Reggie Bradford and Laura Sachar. Bradford is currently senior vice president of product development at Oracle and a successful three-time tech entrepreneur. His three startups have delivered nearly $5 billion in value for their shareholders.
“The things that most impressed us about Persado,” said Sachar, General Partner and Founder of StarVest Partners, “is the quality of the brands they were attracting, and the size of the contracts they were closing. We spoke to chief marketing officers who said Persado is a game changer. It changes how messages are written, not only across all digital marketing touchpoints, but across all customer touchpoints.”
About Persado, Inc.
Persado’s platform generates the most persuasive language for communications designed to drive action. The software uses semantic algorithms to map emotions and generate language for marketing communications such as emails, landing pages, mobile, push notifications and social media. By breaking down marketing language into emotional, descriptive, and formatting components, Persado’s software linguistically engineers the optimal language, replacing the guesswork of copywriting.
Using Persado, leading brands such as Best Buy, Citi, LivingSocial, MetLife, Neiman Marcus, Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, and ZipCar are realizing tens of millions of dollars in incremental revenue compared to campaigns written traditionally, using copywriters. Winner of the DMA’s 2014 Innovation Award for Digital Technology, Persado is backed by Bain Capital Ventures, StarVest Partners, American Express Ventures, and Citi Ventures. The company is headquartered in New York City, with offices in San Francisco, Athens, London, Rome, and Rio de Janeiro. For more information see www.persado.com.
About Bain Capital Ventures
Bain Capital Ventures (BCV) is the venture and growth affiliate of Bain Capital, a global alternative assets platform with approximately $80 billion in assets under management. BCV invests from early-stage through growth equity in companies focused on technologies and technology-enabled services primarily for enterprise customers. BCV has offices in Boston, New York and Palo Alto and has a long history of partnering with information services businesses including sales and marketing companies including Booker Software, BloomReach, Captora, Clari, CQuotient, Gainsight, Kenshoo, LinkedIn and SurveyMonkey. Since 2000, BCV has helped steer ideas to success by working in partnership with management teams, pairing talented and passionate entrepreneurs with industry experts, opening doors to customers, and collaborating on long-term strategies. For more information please visit www.baincapitalventures.com or follow us at @BainCapVC on Twitter.
About StarVest Partners
StarVest Partners is a New York-based venture capital firm investing in the growth of technology-enabled business services companies in the U.S. for more than a decade. With $400M under management, the firm targets emerging cloud-based technology service providers in the marketing, eCommerce enablement, financial services, and human capital management sectors. A software-as-a service pioneer since the late 1990s, StarVest was the sole venture firm to invest in NetSuite (NYSE:N) and other sector leaders include MessageOne, acquired by Dell computer; Connected Corporation, acquired by Iron Mountain; iCrossing acquired by Hearst; Insurance.com, acquired by QuinStreet; and Fieldglass acquired by SAP for $1B. StarVest continues to expand its portfolio with investments such as AppDirect, Host Analytics, PeopleMatter, RetailNext, and Veracode among others. More information is available at www.starvestpartners.com.
About Citi Ventures
Citi Ventures is the innovation engine of Citi, committed to conceiving, launching and scaling new initiatives with the potential to transform the future of financial services. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Citi Ventures aims to deliver next-generation experiences for Citi’s customers by investing in startups and piloting new technologies through our global lab network. More specifically, the venture team invests in four key focus areas: Commerce & Payments, Security & Enterprise IT, Big Data & Analytics and Financial Technology. Citi Ventures accelerates its portfolio companies’ ability to scale through collaboration with Citi’s global businesses and industry experts. For more information visit: http://ventures.citi.com/
About American Express Ventures
American Express Ventures is the strategic investment group within American Express that seeks to invest in innovative startups in order to enhance American Express’ core capabilities and accelerate efforts in digital commerce and financial inclusion. For more information visit: www.amexventures.com