Business COVID-19 Startups Venture

Utah’s Podium Raises $125M Series C, Rolls Out Free Version Of Its Product

Podium, a customer messaging platform for local businesses, announced this morning it has raised a $125 million Series C round of funding led by YC Continuity.

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A number of high-profile investors also participated in the financing including Sapphire Ventures, Alkeon Capital, Recruit Co. Ltd., IVP, Accel, Summit Partners and GV. The round brings Lehi, Utah-based Podium’s total raised to $217.6 million since its inception in 2014, according to Crunchbase data. It is also more than double Podium’s June 2018 $60 million Series B, which was led by IVP.  The company had also raised a large $32 million Series A in May of 2017.

The new raise values the company at about $1.5 billion, according to TechCrunch.

Podium launched as a product to help local businesses get “honest and timely” online reviews. Since then, the company has evolved to offering an entire suite of messaging tools that aims to allow any business with a physical location to interact with its customers.

Specifically, Podium’s platform now supports customer messaging, mobile payments, webchat, online reviews and customer feedback. The startup claims that in just over five years, its platform has been used by half of all smartphone owners in the U.S. to interact with local businesses. Today, Podium has 45,000 businesses across the U.S., Canada and Australia on the platform, ranging from single-location SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) to large enterprise companies with thousands of physical locations.

Digital transformation

In conjunction with the funding, Podium is rolling out a cost-free version of its product, Podium Starter. The new basic package will allow businesses to interact with their customers and process contactless payments completely via messaging, in the face of social distancing due to COVID-19. The company is initially rolling it out via invitation, but plans to make the offer available to every local business in the U.S.

Podium Co-founder and CEO Eric Rea said the digital transformation that has been taking place in recent years has only accelerated with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are putting this round to use to not only make this transition the most effective for these businesses during this period of time,” he said, “but also to continue giving every local business the tools they need to grow and succeed moving into the future.”

Ali Rowghani, CEO of YC Continuity, said YCombinator has had a “deep partnership” with Podium since the startup was part of its 2016 winter batch.

He said that Podium is unique in the fact that its market is made up of almost every local business that consumers interact with on a daily basis.

“The company is modernizing the way we all reach out, interact, schedule, pay and give feedback to our local businesses,” Rowghani added. “When we had the opportunity to take a larger role in the growth of Podium and the positive change they are creating for the local economy, we were thrilled to partner in such a substantive way.”

Numbers

I’ve reached out to Podium for some recent growth metrics. But in the meantime, let’s look at some we published in 2018 in an article by our former EIC, Alex Wilhelm. Podium–which operates as a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider–was around the $12 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) mark when it raised its Series A in 2017. By the end of 2017, the startup was doing around $30 million ARR.

As of November 2018, Podium was past the $50 million ARR mark with the expectation of reaching $60 million by year’s end and $100 million in 2019.

I’ll update this post with more recent numbers when I get them.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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