ProsperWorks, Google's go-to CRM platform, secures funding for machine learning

ProsperWorks gives Google a way to keep up with intelligent sales services from Salesforce and Microsoft.

As companies like Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce compete for enterprise business, they're increasingly offering customers a wide range of integrated productivity tools, rather than siloed applications. Google, however, seems to be missing one key piece: customer relations management (CRM).

For that, it's turned to ProsperWorks, a cloud-based CRM platform built expressly for Google Apps for Work. Linking its future to Google's enterprise business, ProsperWorks has done well for itself so far, growing its revenue 504 percent year-over-year and attracting 63,000 businesses.

On Tuesday, the company announced it's secured $24 million in Series B funding, enabling its plans to expand internationally and build a data science team that will transform its CRM from a database to effectively a virtual VP of sales.

"We want to be able move CRM from being just a database to a system that tells you what to do next," CEO Jon Lee told ZDNet.

The funding round is led by Next World Capital, with additional financing from Storm Ventures, True Ventures, Industry Ventures, Devoteam, and a consortium of strategic angels. ProsperWorks' total funding now stands at $34 million.

"Stage One" of the business was developing a CRM product that, through automated data entry and integration with Google productivity apps, ensures data quality and comprehensiveness.

Stage Two, he said, is helping sales teams find the connections between their actions and their performance and, ultimately, to give sales teams advice on how to close deals. For instance, Lee explained, the system may tell a salesperson, "You've only done seven phone calls to this customer, you need to do eight more."

While ProsperWorks will be using its new funding to build out its data science team, it's also leveraging Google's machine learning platform, meeting with their team on a weekly basis.

"Where we can leverage third party tools, we're 100 percent Google," Lee said.

Hitching its fate to Google as the internet giant ramps up its enterprise business may be the best way for a relatively small CRM company to go up against Salesforce and other dominant players in the market. More than 5 million businesses use Google Apps, and ProsperWorks is uniquely positioned to capitalize on their growth.

In turn, ProsperWorks gives Google the ability to stay competitive with Salesforce as the CRM giant encroaches on its space -- the company's acquisition of the productivity platform Quip expands Salesforce's offerings in word processing and collaborative communications. Meanwhile, Microsoft's recent LinkedIn acquisition gives it the data to improve its own Dynamics CRM.

Both of those companies are also offering more intelligent sales and marketing services -- Salesforce recently announced its Einstein platform, while Microsoft's expanded partnership with Adobe combines its AI investments with Adobe's Marketing Cloud data.

"Everyone is recognizing sales software is a massive market," Lee said. As to whether Google would acquire ProsperWorks, Lee said, "We work so closely with Google, we're almost a part of it already."

In the meantime, ProsperWorks is also using its new capital to build its sales and marketing teams, both domestically and internationally. The company is expanding its business abroad for the first time, starting in Europe -- the second largest market behind the US by total IT spend. One of its investors, Devoteam, is the largest IT systems integrator in Europe.

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