Huddle boosts enterprise collaboration warchest by $51m

SUMMARY:
  • Huddle has more than doubled its venture funding with a $51m round
  • Its ambition is to be a $1 billion enterprise collaboration player
  • The investment demonstrates the perceived market opportunity
Alastair Mitchell, Huddle
Alastair Mitchell, Huddle

Enterprise collaboration provider Huddle today reveals a $51 million boost to its venture funding. The series D round more than doubles its total raised to over $90 million and comes two and half years after a $24 million series C round.

The company says the new funds will underpin further expansion of Huddle’s business in Europe and the US, as well as allowing its product development team to double in size. It stated enterprise revenues have tripled in the first three quarters of this year compared to the same period last year, including signing seven of its ten biggest contracts to date.

Huddle competes with larger players such as Microsoft and Google as well as better-funded startups including Box, Dropbox and publicly listed Jive Software. But its focus on enterprise collaboration gives it an edge over others in the field, CEO Alastair Mitchell told me when we met at the company’s San Francisco offices on Tuesday.

Storage and sync and social are all features of basically what is essentially helping people to work together more successfully. If you are a Dropbox, you are about small teams, businesses, consumers, doing that. If you’re Box you’re about a storage play with a bit of collaboration on top.

What we fundamentally believe is that collaboration is an entirely different paradigm shift for the enterprise. It sits above storage, it sits above sync. It is about providing one platform that the entire organization can work on, both internally and externally, in customers, partners, suppliers.

It’s all about collaboration and there’s only going to be a small number of big winners in it. I think what’s exciting about this round is it shows that Huddle’s going to be one of those.

Billion-dollar ambition

The combination of accelerating growth with new funding puts Huddle on track to become a billion-dollar player in the emerging enterprise collaboration space, he added.

Enterprise collaboration is a multi-billion dollar space. There will be four or five really big winners who are all billion dollar businesses. One or two of them will be the arms of established businesses — Microsoft’s already a billion dollar vendor in this space. There will be two or three big winners who are billion dollar businesses in this space who have come in from anew.

That’s what we believe — and we’ve got a really good shot at it, especially with this funding.

The funding was led by new investor Zouk Capital with all existing investors also taking part. Zouk is also a significant investor in iZettle, a Scandinavian payments processing venture that’s taking on Silicon Valley darling Square. There’s a parallel there with British company Huddle taking on the likes of Box and Dropbox.

Europe vs US

Europe — and particularly the UK — still represents sixty percent of Huddle’s revenues, said Mitchell, with the remainder in the US. He said the company has won some big deals in the US this year, including accountancy firm Baker Tilly, and continues to develop its public sector presence.

We started in Europe, we’re a British company. Every time we say the US is going to overtake Europe, Europe grows again.

We’re now seeing, especially in the enterprise side, some of our biggest customers coming out of the US. It started in US government and now we’re seeing major multinationals starting to deploy Huddle.

They all have on thing in common, which is they say we need everyone to be working together on one platform, we need that platform to be really easy to use and to be in the cloud, but it needs to be highly secure and it needs to sit above all of these other silos and systems that we run, so that it becomes a common platform for everyone in the enterprise and all of the ecosystem.

Integrating an ecosystem

The increased investment in product development will focus on integration and on having solutions in place for specific industries, said Mitchell.

You need a lot of muscle to take this category. Huddle has ambitions to be a platform for an entire ecosystem to work on. The work that we want to spend time on isn’t adding more features, it’s doing two things.

It’s sitting across the top of all these silos, so integrating, if you’re using Google or Office 365 or a cloud storage tool like Box, Huddle sits across the top of those as the collaboration platform. That’s what our customers are asking for. That’s where the real value is. Integrating with all of these different silos.

The second thing is on making it truly accessible for all of our users in a way that really fits their workflow. So if you are using Huddle as a project tool with your clients, that we have the workflows and the tools in there for you to do that. If you are using Huddle as a full-on collaboration platform across all of your documents across your insurance company, that we have the metadata to be able to handle that. So it’s being able to handle really very large and wide-ranging user cases in our biggest customers, but all from a collaboration perspective.

Intelligent recommendations

There will also be more investment in using machine intelligence to help find the resources they need more easily, using technology similar to Microsoft’s Office Graph, said Mitchell.

It is ridiculous to me that I have to search for my stuff in the enterprise or that I have to find the document that my team are working on or that my lawyer has asked me to look at.

We believe a big trend in the enterprise software world and certainly for Huddle is this idea of intelligent recommendations, which we’ve been steadily working on in the background, and is now powering more and more of stuff in Huddle.

It’s basically the idea that if you work in enterprise with thousands of people on tens of thousands of documents, search is becoming impossible, especially when it’s spread across so many silos. You should have the intelligence in tools like Huddle to be able to figure out what’s useful to you and the people that are useful and recommend them to you.

My take

We’ve often said here at diginomica that the enterprise collaboration space presents a big opportunity for vendors. Huddle is well aware of the nature of that opportunity and this new warchest gives it valuable extra resources to draw on.

Image credit: Alastair Mitchell portrait courtesy of Huddle.