Sydney software startup Autopilot just raised a $US12 million round led by Blackbird Ventures

Autopilot’s Mike Sharkey. (supplied)

Sydney marketing software startup Autopilot has secured $US12 million in new capital in a deal led by Blackbird Ventures.

The round, which also includes existing investors Rembrandt Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures and Southern Cross Venture Partners, was announced Wednesday along with the company’s new product Insights – a “fitness tracker” for marketers.

“With the launch of Insights and continued support from our investors, we’re helping marketers move beyond batch and blast email to create remarkable multi-channel experiences across the entire customer journey,” said Autopilot co-founder and chief Mike Sharkey.

The latest money brings the total investment into the company to $US32 million, all while big brand customers like Microsoft, Atlassian and Lyft are hopping onto the platform. The company stated it had opened new offices in both San Francisco and Sydney in the past year, while product usage in terms of events processed has surpassed one billion per month.

Autopilot’s platform allows relationship management and engagement tracking in email, online, text message and direct mail marketing campaigns. The system integrates into Salesforce, Twilio, Segment, Slack and Zapier.

Sharkey said that even though marketing has become increasingly sophisticated, companies are still using primitive tools to manage campaigns in the background.

“Good marketing doesn’t feel like marketing at all, yet companies today still view their customers as a name and an email in a spreadsheet,” he said.

Autopilot, established in 2012, is Sharkey’s third startup, all of which he launched with his older brother Chris. One of their previous efforts, accommodation marketplace Stayz, was sold to Fairfax for $AU17.5 million in 2006 when Mike was just 19 years old.

In 2015, Mike sent profanity-laden emails to venture capitalists in the hope they would reject his pitch, so that he could qualify for government funding. The move failed when one of the investors actually liked the startup, and Autopilot ended up raising $US7 million.

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