Salesforce.com has set aside $US100 million to invest in mobile app startups through its Salesforce Ventures VC arm.
While lots of tech companies have venture funds (from Google to SAP), Salesforce has to be one of the most active. Launched in 2009, Salesforce Ventures at first focused strictly on enterprise cloud companies, backing more than 100 enterprise cloud startups, including companies like Anaplan, Box, DocuSign, Dropbox, Evernote, GainSight, MuleSoft. MongoDB, and SurveyMonkey.
That vote of confidence certainly helped sow a healthy enterprise software-as-a-service cloud computing market, which generated $US33.1 billion in 2013 and will more than double that to $76.1 billion by 2017, IDC says.
And now it wants to do the same thing for enterprise mobile apps, which it calls the Internet of Customers. It calls this new fund the Salesforce1 Fund, named after its enterprise app-hosting service Salesforce1.
The fund has already made three investments:
- DocuSign, a company Salesforce Ventures had previously backed. It makes digital signature software for signing legal documents.
- i.am+, a startup created by musician Will.i.am that combines consumer tech products with fashion. Its first product is foto.sosho, that turns your iPhone into a vintage point-and-shoot camera.
- InsideSales.com, a productivity app for remote salespeople.
- Skuid, a service that lets people easily build Salesforce1 apps and webpages without coding.
Funding from Salesforce Ventures also means that a startup commits to CEO Marc Benioff’s 1-1-1 model of philanthropy. That’s when a company spends 1% of its time, 1% of its products, and 1% of its equity to charity.
Benioff is a big proponent of tech companies giving back to their communities and not being perceived as greedy “Wolves of Wall Street” types.