Salesforce.com Launches $100 Million Mobile Development Fund - InformationWeek

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9/8/2014
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Salesforce.com Launches $100 Million Mobile Development Fund

Salesforce.com establishes dedicated fund for startups building mobile apps on Salesforce1 platform.

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Salesforce.com on Monday formally named its five-year-old technology investment arm Salesforce Ventures, and marked the occasion by introducing a $100 million fund to promote mobile development.

The Salesforce1 Fund is specifically earmarked to support companies building mobile apps on the Salesforce1 development platform. As part of Monday's announcement the company revealed that the first four companies to receive support from the new fund include DocuSign, InsideSales.com, i.am+, and Skuid.

"The goal is to create a really large ecosystem of companies that are building the next generation of mobile innovation for our customers," John Somorjai, EVP of corporate development and strategy at Salesforce.com, said in a phone interview with InformationWeek.

[Want more on Salesforce wearables plans? Read Salesforce.com Adds Devices To Wearables Platform.]

DocuSign built a mobile app that lets users sign documents. InsideSales is a telephony app that helps sales reps be more productive. Launched by Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am, i.am+ is venturing into the connected wearable devices market. Skuid is a toolkit built on Salesforce1 that supports drag-and-drop development of Web and mobile apps on Salesforce1.

The new Salesforce1 Fund is not exactly a huge war chest by venture capital standards. Just last week, for example, DataStax, the Cassandra NoSQL database support provider, raised $106 million all on its own to pave the way to a likely initial public offering. Nonetheless, Somorjai said Salesforce investments are a welcome resource for many startups.

"There's a lot of capital out there, but for many entrepreneurs it's hard to attract," he said. "If they can get Salesforce into an investment round, it can give them a lot of credibility and help to bring in other investors."

A new Salesforce Ventures site at salesforce.com/ventures explains the company's investment funds and programs.
A new Salesforce Ventures site at salesforce.com/ventures explains the company's investment funds and programs.

Salesforce Ventures is already invested in more than 100 privately-held companies, said Somorjai. As part of the program, Salesforce executives offer startups advice, and they can pitch the company's sales team to get feedback on their ideas.

According to Salesforce.com's last quarterly financial statement, the value of those investments, as of July 31, stands at $215 million. Companies on the list include enterprise vendors Adaptive Insights, Anaplan, FinancialForce.com, Kenandy, and Veeva, and more consumer-oriented vendors including Box, DropBox, and Evernote. Along the way, Salesforce.com has also acquired some of the companies it has invested in, including Assistly, Dimdim, and Model Metrics.

Is the Salesforce1 Fund necessary because startups that are dependent on Salesforce.com development platforms are somehow seen as too dependent upon the larger vendor?

"Our platform has been so well-adopted by so many companies, including public companies, that that issue has been taken off the table," Somorjai said. We co-invest with all the major venture capital firms in many companies that are building on our platform. There's now widespread belief that we have a really fast way for companies to get started."

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
9/8/2014 | 10:48:56 PM
Re: Venture seed money as supplement for R&D
As you see so many companies that do well aquire a lot of money.  And with that money they can invest in companies and continue to create a funnel for thier technology pipeline while at the sametime generate revenue.  Google has google ventures, salesforces has salesforce ventures and I wonder who will be next in teh venture venture.com
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
9/8/2014 | 10:10:28 PM
Venture seed money as supplement for R&D
This is clever seed money. It will call attention to the potential of mobile applications built on Salesforce 1 and it only needs one modest success to pull more venture capital into the field. Smart companies, including IBM, HP, and VMware, are modesting funding startups in hopes their inquiring minds will discover uses of their technologies that their own labs have overlooked. It's sort of like getting someone else to help you fund your R&D.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
9/8/2014 | 4:29:31 PM
Re: Veeva steps up with Salesforce.com investment
I am a big fan of DocuSign, and I think that many companies in this enterprise space don't get the amount of funding that they may deserve. Sure, everyone likes the consumer tech plays, the apps and the social products. But let's not forget that enterprise services are always in demand, and companies will pay top dollar for it. 

Mobile is the next step for many companies to leverage productivity options. This fund seems like a slam-dunk to me. 
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
9/8/2014 | 10:00:43 AM
Veeva steps up with Salesforce.com investment
Salesforce Ventures leader Somorjai cites Veeva as a company that has rocketed to success with seed investment from Salesforce.com. Veeva is now a CRM powerhouse in the Pharmaceutical industry, mentioned by executives from Eli Lilly and several other large drug companies that either presented or attended the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas (search "Lilly" using our site search feature). The system is built on the Force.com platform, but it's specialized for the Pharma industry. 
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