Think Passenger Inc., a Los Angeles-based provider of on-demand customer collaboration solutions, has raised $8.3 million in Series B funding. StarVest Partners and Shelter Capital Partners were joined by return backer Steamboat Ventures.
StarVest Partners, a venture capital firm that is funding and building the next generation of technology-enabled business services companies, today announced its participation in an $8.3 million series B financing round in Think Passenger, Inc. (dba “Passenger”), the Los-Angeles-based technology leader in on-demand customer collaboration. StarVest participated with previous investor Shelter Capital Partners and new investor Steamboat Ventures, the venture capital arm of The Walt Disney Company.
Passenger, which has now raised $13 million in venture capital financing, will use the funding to expand its sales operations and evolve its market-leading on-demand technology platform.
Passenger combines cutting-edge social media, community building and collaboration technologies to enable companies to collaborate with customers within private online communities. Based on current Web 2.0 technologies, Passenger enables brand marketers to create private and secure communities to generate and refine new product ideas, gain contextual insight and drive customer advocacy like never before. The company's advanced analytics engine allows companies of all sizes to collect, synthesize and distill real world conversations into actionable business decisions.
Today's announcement marks StarVest's eighth investment in a Software-as-a-Service company since 1999 and underscores the firm's laser focus on high-growth technology-enabled business services. Many industry analysts predict the social media market could reach $2 billion by 2012 as Fortune 1000 companies turn to this technology to manage ongoing conversations with their customers.
“We have long maintained that the technology-enabled business services sector will continue to offer innovative products for customers while generating significant returns for investors,” said Larry Bettino, general partner, StarVest Partners. “Passenger's differentiated technology and proven success with customers fits perfectly into our investment strategy and we look forward to helping them expand their customer base while continuing to build their brand.”
The tremendous growth and success of consumer-based social communities such as MySpace and Facebook has encouraged marketers to use the power of social media to build lucrative online communities of customers. Passenger has emerged as a leader in this sector, winning customer installations at more than a dozen large, brand-centric global companies.
StarVest has followed the Software-as-a-Service model for years and counts as portfolio companies iCrossing, now the largest privately held digital marketing services company, and NetSuite, the on-demand business applications provider founded by Larry Ellison that recently filed for an Initial Public Offering.
“StarVest has been instrumental in our efforts to grow our business, adding tremendous value at the start of our relationship with introductions to several important customers and partners,” said Andrew Leary, co-founder and CEO of Passenger. “With the infusion of additional capital we can now significantly broaden our marketing and sales operations while expanding our technology platform in our bid to become the definitive social media provider to Fortune 1000 companies that want to harness the power of online communities to strengthen their brand and deepen their market penetration.”
About StarVest Partners
With a different kind of vision, StarVest Partners is a disciplined venture capital firm that is funding and building next-generation businesses. The firm's value-added partnership maintains a laser focus on five key emerging technology and services sectors: Software as a Service (SaaS), Internet Marketing Services, eCommerce Services, Data and Content Services and Identity and Security Management. StarVest combines a sophisticated investment background with the experience to foresee opportunities for both its portfolio companies and funding partners. Highly selective, StarVest's approach has already led to a tenfold increase in and compound annual revenue growth of over 70 percent for its active StarVest I portfolio. More information about StarVest is available at the company's Web site: www.starvestpartners.com .