17 Enterprise Startups To Bet Your Career On

YammerIf you worked for Yammer you’d be hanging with these dudes.

Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider

Enterprise tech was once considered dull. But there’s nothing dull about a job with stock options that could make you a millionaire.¬†And enterprise tech is hot in 2012 in every way.

  • VCs are looking to fund more enterprise ideas
  • Some of the brightest minds in the Valley are working on enterprise software
  • Enterprise startups are landing huge rounds of funding with big fat valuations
  • Investors are eating up enterprise IPOs.

So if you’re thinking of making the jump, where should you go? Here are some of the biggest, most innovative, and fastest growing enterprise startups in a bunch of different categories….

Workday is expected to go public soon and be a superhot stock when it does.

Company: Workday

Location: Pleasanton, CA

What it does: Workday is to human resources software what Salesforce.com is to customer relationship management software. It offers a suite of apps as a subscription service delivered over the cloud.

Founded: 2005

Funding: A total of $175M, including an $85 million round in October.

Why it's hot: Its success has made the big enterprise HR software makers trip over themselves to compete. SAP paid $3.4 for SuccessFactors, Workday's competitor. Oracle bought Taleo for $1.9 billion. Workday's revenue hit more than $300 million in 2011 and the company is said to be worth around $2 billion. Co-CEO Aneel Bhusri is also a partner at VC firm Greylock.

Workday is expected to go public maybe even in 2012. It will be one hot stock when that happens.

SugarCRM is making a killing against big players like Oracle.

Company: SugarCRM

Location: Cupertino, CA.

What it does: SugarCRM offers open source customer relationship management software. Its basic product is available for free and it earns revenus by offering a supported, subscription version. It competes against Salesforce and other companies, but believes it has an edge because it ONLY focuses on CRM, while these other companies are expanding into new areas.

Founded: 2004

Funding: $79 million, including a $33 million round in April.

Why it's hot: SugarCRM has been cash flow positive since 2010, and has more than one million end users, making it the third-largest CRM vendor. Billings were up 67% last year, and almost doubled in the fourth quarter. While SugarCRM can run on its own cloud, its app is also uber popular on some of the biggest clouds out there including Amazon, IBM's SmartCloud, Rackspace and so on.

IBM recently announced it was going to ditch Oracle's Siebel software for SugarCRM.

Zuora has mastered a new market born from cloud computing.

Company: Zuora

Location: Redwood City, CA

What it does: It offers subscription billing software. For instance, when a Box customer wants to convert from a free account to a paid account, it uses Zuora to handle that.

Founded: 2007

Funding: $77 million total including a $36 million round in November.

Why it's hot: The tech industry has changed its business model. It used to be that you downloaded something from the Internet (or bought a CD at the store) and paid for it once. Now, most companies charge monthly service fees and the old methods of tracking customers can't handle it. They need Zuora. The company is connected, too. It has a partnership with Workday, PayPal's Scott Thompson sits on its board and one of its angels is Marc Benioff.

Zendesk is making a killing helping companies help their customers.

Company: Zendesk

Location: San Francisco

What it does: Zendesk is a web-based customer support and help desk service.

Founded: 2007

Funding: $25.5 million including

Why it's hot: Zendesk has more than 15,000 customers including Box, Groupon, OpenTable, Adobe, and many more. In December, the company integrated its service with Facebook, so user comments on Facebook will flow directly into a company's hep desk system. This allows companies to respond to complaints quickly before they blow up into a public relations crisis.

Yammer is making a name for itself by helping employees talk to each other.

Company: Yammer

Location: San Francisco

What it does: Yammer is an enterprise social network, similar to Twitter but available only to employees.

Founded: 2008

Funding: $142 million including an $85 million round in February.

Why it's hot: Yammer has 5 million users and is growing at a fast clip. It's been able to convert about 20% of its users from freebie accounts to paid users. It's developing a bunch of hooks into popular enterprise apps so that these apps can post to the Yammer stream. The company was founded by David Sacks, former COO of PayPal, so it has strong connections in the Valley power-player ecosystem.

Box is growing like crazy and is branching out in smart new ways.

Company: Box

Location: Los Altos, CA,

What it does: Box is a cloud storage and file sharing service aimed at businesses, not consumers.

Founded: 2005

Funding: $159 million including an $81 million round in October.

Why it's hot: Over 120,000 businesses use Box and 10 million employees and it's growing crazy fast, adding about 250,000 end users every month. Box recently launched a program that encourages other startups, partners, and customers to write their own information sharing apps, too, and is building itself to be the host of lots of these apps, similar to Salesforce.com's AppExchange.

Box is expected to go public sooner rather than later -- if it doesn't get acquired first.

Opscode has customers that love it so much, they do half the work.

Company: Opscode

Location: Seattle

What it does: Offers open-source software that helps IT professionals automate servers. The tool is called 'Chef' and it uses a cute cookbook and recipe analogy to show IT professionals how to automatically set up of servers.

Founded: 2008

Funding: $33 million including a $19.5 million round in March.

Why it's hot: As cloud computing grows, IT people need to automate as many functions as possible. Everyone loves this software. Although users can take the open source version for free, Opscode has 13,000 registered users and some 400 customers have shared their own 'cookbooks' that automate stuff on everything from Apache servers to Windows. Its management includes some of the people that originally built Amazon's Web Services cloud, too.

Lithium Technologies was ahead of its time and now its ahead of its competitors.

Company: Lithium Technologies

Location: Emeryville, CA

What it does: Lithium does social media monitoring. It watches Twitter, blogs, forums, and comments for mentions of a company so a company can keep track of what the public is saying about it.

Founded: 2001

Funding: $92 million including a $53 million round in January.

Why it's hot: Yeah, the company is 10 years old. But Lithium has a different take in this crowded market. It helps Fortune 1000 companies figure out who their biggest fans are, and then gets those fans, or experts at the company, to follow up with posts of their own. Its founders came from the gaming world so it uses game-like motivation to get fans involved.

Couchbase is cashing in on the need for faster, better databases and web companies love it.

Company: Couchbase

Location: Mountain View, CA.

What it does: It makes NoSQL database software. This is a new kind of database that can grow super big, handle all kinds of data, and still work extremely fast. Most major web app startups rely on this type of tech.

Founded: 2009

Funding: $31 million including $15 million in 2011.

Why it's hot: Couchbase is one of the biggest players in the noSQL world, created from a merger between two players, CouchOne and Membase. Couchbase's tech powers web sites for Zynga, AOL, Cisco, and about 150 others. Couchbase was the secret to OMGPOP's incredible scaling success.

Asana has got a lot of star power that is making it super successful super fast.

Company: Asana

Location: San Francisco

What it does: Web based project management, collaboration tool for workgroups.

Founded: 2009

Funding: $10.2 million including seed money from an all-star list of angels.

Why it's hot: This is the new baby of Facebook billionaire Dustin Moskovitz and Facebook coding wiz Justin Rosenstein. Its star power has attracted a lot of attention. The service has only been live for a few months but it's already extremely popular in Silicon Valley. Its founders have some audacious plans for the company and they have the capital and connections to make their plans happen.

Cloudera has got a stronghold on one of the biggest trends to hit the Internet.

Company: Cloudera

Location: Palo Alto, CA

What it does: Cloudera develops and distributes Hadoop, the open source software that powers the big data analytics engine of the world's largest and most popular web sites.

Founded: 2008

Funding: $76 million including a $40 million round in November.

Why it's hot: Hadoop is one of technologies behind the big data phenomenon. Cloudera has already established itself as the biggest Hadoop player. Its founders want to build it to be a huge enterprise software company. Its founders are bright stars in the Valley tech scene (Amr Awadallah from Yahoo, Jeff Hammerbacher from Facebook, Mike Olson from Oracle) and its investors are even bigger names. Everything about Cloudera smells like success.

Acquia has a famous founder and is the go-to company for millions of web sites.

Company: Acquia

Location: Burlington, MA

What it does: The support and hosting arm for companies using Drupal. Drupal is a popular free, open source content management systems used to build websites.

Founded: 2007

Funding: $38.5 million

Why it's hot: Drupal was written by Dries Buytaert when he was college and it organically grew into a massively popular CMS today. Buytaert is to Drupal what Linus Torvalds is to Linux. Drupal powers a million websites including major sites like the White House.

Acquia is Buytaert's commercial entity to support Drupal users. You can't get better support than from the guy that wrote the program.

Acquia is growing like mad. The company has nearly 2,000 customers and its cloud service is hosting over 100,000 web sites.

SendGrid solves a hard problem with e-mail that many web companies need solved.

Company: SendGrid

Location: Boulder, CO

What it does: SendGrid is a cloud-based email service that delivers email on behalf of websites and companies like Pinterest, Foursquare, Hootsuite, Spotify, job sites, and daily deal sites.

Founded: 2009

Funding: $27.4 million including $21 million raised in January.

Why it's hot: SendGrid is growing at an insane rate of 10% per month. It sends out more than 3 billion emails per month on behalf of 40,000 customers, and its gaining new customers rapidly. SendGrid is expected to IPO within the next three years.

Blue Jeans Network is changing the videoconferencing industry.

Company: Blue Jeans Network

Location: Mountain View, CA

What it does: Offers a cloud service that lets any two videoconferencing systems talk to each other ... Skype to Cisco to Polycom, doesn't matter

Founded: 2009

Funding: $23.5 in one Series A round.

Why it's hot: Blue Jeans doesn't compete with other video conferencing services from established giants like Cisco, Google, Microsoft Lync, Skype, or Polycom. It solves their biggest problem -- making them all work together. It's got big customers like Facebook, Foursquare, and Match.com, plus a management team with deep connections to Cisco and Skype who have already sold multiple startups. It was also named number 3 on the 2012 Best Places to Work in the Bay Area list by San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Nicira Networks has brand new technology that every enterprise is going to want.

Company: Nicira Networks

Location: Palo Alto, CA

What it does: Offers equipment that use a new kind of technology called 'network virtualization.'

Founded: 2007

Funding: $89.5 million including a $50 million round in February.

Why it's hot: There are several startups using this same network virtualization technology but this startup is the baby of the guy that invented the technology, Martin Casado. Casado is quickly making a name for himself as an engineering genius. This is technology that will change how networks are built and it has the big players, Cisco, HP, Juniper, all stumbling over themselves to see how they can use it. It is backed by a some big players in the network industry, including Diane Greene, founder of VMware.

Buddy Media is making Facebook easier for big enterprise companies

Company: Buddy Media

Location: New York

What it does: It makes software that helps big brands manage their Facebook pages (and other social media, but mostly Facebook).

Founded: 2007

Funding: $90 million including a $54 million round in August.

Why it's hot: Buddy Media has clients like Citibank, IBM, Volvo, and the National Football League, plus eight out of the 10 largest global advertisers. While there's been some speculation that Facebook might up and buying this company, that hasn't slowed Buddy Media down. It solidified its position by making two acquisitions of its own: Spinback and SAM by Brighter Option.

Numecent has cool technology and a smart business model for changing the software industry.

Company: Numecent

Location: Irvine, CA

What it does: Offers technology called 'cloud paging' that delivers software over the Internet in a truly groundbreaking way.

Founded: 2009

Funding: $2 million series A in February.

Why it's hot: Numecent's technology could be a game-changer in the software industry and it's lead by a team that has a great track record. Numecent has an interesting business model, too. It will sell the tech directly and also creating a series of spin-out companies that will use the tech in different ways. It has all sorts of ways to cash in on its amazing tech.

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