How do you ensure you win in the category you created?
It’s a question guiding Crossbeam, its cofounder and CEO Bob Moore told Technical.ly this week on the heels of the partnership ecosystem platform maker’s new $76 million Series C led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Crossbeam, now about three years old, was born from the growing number of partnerships roles developing at tech companies. There wasn’t a great way for building relationships without sharing too much data, and there wasn’t a great way to scale or measure these role’s impact, Moore was finding.
In 2018, Moore and Buck Ryan sought out to fill that knowledge gap with what they now refer to as an “escrow service for data” which allows companies to see how their customers and sales overlap without sharing too much information. Today, they say, more than 5,000 companies are using the platform, and seven out of 10 customers are brought in from a client that was already working with Crossbeam.
Since 2009, Moore has cofounded three Philly tech companies. First, there was RJMetrics, where he met Crossbeam cofounder Ryan. It was acquired by San Francisco-based Magento in 2016, and Moore became a second-time founder when its newer product was spun out into a standalone company called Stitch.
In 2018, Stitch was acquired by Talend, but by that time, Moore had already begun work with Ryan on Crossbeam. The quick transitions left a lot of people eyeing Crossbeam — and Moore, now officially a serial entrepreneur.
“The most important thing [for people to know] is that we genuinely believe that we can build an important significant, long-lasting technology company in Philadelphia with this business,” Moore told us in 2018. “We wouldn’t have signed up to do it if not. This is the right mix of opportunity in the market and the team’s ability to make it work.”
And the founder’s kept his word. The company quickly raised a $12.5 Series A in 2019, and a $25 million Series B about a year later in 2020. This round — led by a16z with participation from existing investors Redpoint Ventures, FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital and Uncork Capital — comes in at a very Philly figure of $76 million.
Raising a lot of money in itself isn’t a reason to celebrate, Moore said. It does, however, represent a level of confidence that the company’s out to make a big impact.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘Are we ready for it? How far do we think we can see into the future?'” he said. “It’s different with Crossbeam than it was with Stitch or RJ. We’re in this very unique position, basically creating the category we live in.”
Some of the green flags that Crossbeam’s on that right path happened within the last year or so, Moore said. The team went from having to convince people that a partnership platform mattered to growing organically to their recent 5,000-company count. They stopped seeing and planning for months into the future and instead started thinking in years.
And this time around, the “market pull” was much stronger. When you build something, Moore said, you always put the effort in to push it out to the world.
“But then after some time, you always ask, ‘Am I pushing this out? Do I need to do work to get more people excited? Or is the market pulling us in?'” he said.
This time around, the fundraising process was also different. It took four years to raise a Series A with RJ, back in 2012, when it was quite literally a “hinderance” to be doing so in Philly, the founder said. Previous teams spent so much time and energy explaining to investors why a Philly company was worthy, but between the pandemic — no need to travel for pitch meetings — and the region seeing record-breaking raises so far this year, that notion is gone.
“We don’t spend time pitching Philly anymore, they already believe it’s a great place to start a company,” Moore said of investors. “And we owe that to people like the folks at dbt, DuckDuckGo, Guru — those people who are a few steps ahead of us who have kind of shown the way that you can build these businesses.”
Rick Nucci, Guru’s founder and a Crossbeam customer, said his company signed up at the beginning because Crossbeam solved an important problem by helping them work with their partners more efficiently. It’s also great to see that energy focused here in Philly, Nucci said.
“This is a great example of creating regional growth, by having founders such as Bob take the learnings from their prior companies and bring them to life in new startups,” he wrote via email. “And not only is this the case with Crossbeam, but Bob never hesitates to share his time and learnings with the startup community around us here in Philadelphia (and beyond) which is so valuable to current and future founders as well.”
Dean Miller, president of PACT, another org Moore mentioned as supporting the startup ecosystem here, called the three-time founder a “player’s coach” — someone who embraces the individuality of their team and enables players to have a say in how they operate.
Expanding the team is one of the priorities that comes along with this Series C, Moore said, along with the start of a customer conference (more on that to come.) The company currently has a distributed team of 70, although there is a concentration of folks here in Philly, and that Philly-founded identity is still important to them. They hope to add team members across departments and be at about 85 by the end of the year.
“I think more than anything, we owe this round to the team that we have. It’s easy to have a narrative that this repeat founder has raised another round, but truly I spend a majority of my time finding people to do these jobs way better than I could do,” Moore said. “And that’s going to continue. We’re hiring a ton, we’re going to try to hire here in Philly. It’s time to really build.”