The 21 Hottest Cloud Startups Right Now

Enterprise
cloud startups are a particularly hot area these days. Since 2012, 18 enterprise cloud companies have gone public and half of them are worth over $US1 billion today.
And there’s more where that came from, like the 21 startups on this list.

We curated this list in a couple of ways. We asked enterprise venture capitalists to tell us about cloud startups they are particularly excited about. That’s fair. These VCs believe enough in these companies to invest.

But we also insisted that, for every portfolio cloud company they named, they had to tell us about an interesting startup outside their portfolio.

Plus, we threw in a few picks of our own.

Blue Jeans Network: easy videoconferencing

Blue Jeans CEO Krish Ramakrishnan

Name: Blue Jeans Network

Funding: $US99 million to date, including a recent $US50 million raised in one week.

What it does: A cloud service that lets different videoconferencing systems work with each other, so a Cisco room system can talk to someone on Skype and Google Hangouts.

The buzz: Blue Jeans is far and away the most talked about cloud startup. Four VCs told us about it including Peter Levine from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock's Asheem Chandna (not investors) and Scott Raney from Redpoint Ventures, Matthew Howard from Norwest Venture Partners (investors).

Bitglass: locking down corporate files

Nat Kausik, CEO, Bitglass

Name: Bitglass

Funding: $US10 million

What it does: Bitglass is still in stealth mode but we know it's a new twist on an old computer security market called (among many names) 'data leak prevention.' It's a cloud app that secures corporate files even when downloaded onto a tablet or uploaded into Dropbox. It lets you see if these files were opened from other cloud apps.

The buzz: Matthew Howard from Norwest Venture Partners says, 'IT is faced with securing corporate data that resides on third-party servers and travels over third-party networks to mobile devices. Conventional security technologies are not suited to the task.'

Relationship: Investor

SendGrid: Cloud email made simple

Jim Franklin, CEO, SendGrid

Name: SendGrid

Funding: $US27 million

What it does: You know those emails you get from Pinterest, Foursquare and Uber? SendGrid sends them.

The buzz: SendGrid is one of the kingpins of the warm-and-cozy Boulder, Colorado, startup community.

'It's a very interesting company. It moves the email infrastructure to the cloud, relieving businesses of the cost and complexity of maintaining custom email systems,' explains Matthew Howard, Norwest Venture Partners.

Relationship: Not an investor. Just thinks this is a cool company.

CareCloud: a cloud that eliminates paper health care records

Albert Santalo, CEO CareCloud

Name: CareCloud

Funding: $US56 million

What it does: A cloud service for hospitals and doctors for patient and billing records.

The buzz: Promod Haque, Norwest Venture Partners, says: 'CloudCare is revolutionizing the health care experience through it's cloud-based electronic health record solution.' It's used in over 47 states and 'currently manages over $US2 billion in annualized accounts receivables.'

Relationship: Investor

Illumio: secret security startup everyone is watching

Andrew Rubin, CEO, Illumio

Name: Illumio

Funding: $US35 million

What it does: Illumio is still in stealth. What we know is that it will secure applications in the cloud. Angel investors are said to include Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff and Box's Aaron Levie. VCs include General Catalyst and Andreessen Horowitz.

The buzz: Promod Haque, Norwest Venture Partners says, 'A strong technical team from Juniper and VMware.'

Relationship: Not an investor, just thinks the company is interesting.

ClearDATA: a cloud for doctors and hospitals

Darin Brannan, CEO, Cleardata

Name: ClearDATA Networks

Funding: $US7 million

What it does: A cloud that doctors and hospitals can use to host their apps. It's special because it meets all of the extra security from health care government regulations like HIPAA, a law that protects patient privacy.

The buzz: Robert Abbott, Norwest Venture Partners says it helps hospitals provide 'better health care at lower costs.' Investors see clouds for health care as a $US35 billion-a-year market.

Relationship: Investor.

Okta: handling passwords for other clouds

Todd McKinnon, cofounder, Okta

Name: Okta

Funding: $US79 million

What it does: Okta helps enterprises manage logins and passwords for their employees across all cloud apps. Instead of giving each employee a password to every cloud app, they use Okta. It has more than 200 enterprise customers, including Allergan, Clorox, LinkedIn and SAP.

The buzz: Robert Abbott, Norwest Venture Partners likes this startup because its founders were early Salesforce.com employees. Okta is also encouraging corporations to 'increase usage of cloud apps.'

Relationship: Not an investor, just thinks the company is interesting.

Skyhigh Networks: finding shadow IT

Rajiv Gupta, cofounder, Skyhigh Networks

Name: Skyhigh Networks

Funding: $US27 million

What it does: Skyhigh Networks helps IT departments keep track of all the cloud services that employees are secretly using on their own, something called 'shadow IT.' This helps IT with computer security.

The buzz: Greylock's Asheem Chandna says, 'Skyhigh Networks accelerates the secure adoption of cloud services within the enterprise.'

Relationship: Investor

Netskope: also finding shadow IT

Sanjay Beri CEO Netskope

Name: Netskope

Funding: $US21 million

What it does: Netskope is a competitor to Skyhigh Networks that just came out of stealth. It's a cloud app that lets organisations find 'shadow IT' apps, meaning those used by employees without IT's knowledge.

The buzz: Arif Janmohamed, Lightspeed Venture Partners, says Netskope is hot because it 'assembled an incredible team out of companies like Juniper, Palo Alto Networks, and McAfee.'

Relationship: Investor

Sumo Logic: finds solutions to problems IT didn't know it had

Vance Loiselle, CEO, Sumo Logic

Name: Sumo Logic

Funding: $US45 million

What it does: A cloud service that analyses all the logs from IT products to help IT manage data centres better. Sumo Logic is a cloud-based alternative to the hot public company Splunk.

The buzz: Greylock's Joseph Ansanelli says it's hot because it works automatically, just 'plug and play.'

Relationship: Investor

CloudPhysics: teaching IT how to do things better

John Blumenthal, CEO, CloudPhysics

Name: CloudPhysics

Funding: $US13 million

What it does: A cloud app that watches thousands of data centres and tells everyone what makes a cloud data center run well or not so well.

The buzz: Greylock's Jerry Chen, 'They are combining analytics with VMware, cloud management and delivering it as a service.'

Relationship: Not an investor, just thinks the company is interesting.

Infer: helps sales people close more deals

Vik Singh, CEO, Infer

Name: Infer

Funding: $US10 million

What it does: A cloud tool that helps sales people predict which prospects are most likely to say yes and sign a contract.

The buzz: Scott Raney, Redpoint Ventures, says, 'They use your data plus third-party data to help you handicap accounts most likely to close. It is a young company,' he says, but their customers 'are very impressive.'

Relationship: Investor

ZenPayroll: making payroll painless

Joshua Reeves, CEO and co-founder, ZenPayroll

Name: ZenPayroll

Funding: $US6 million

What it does: A cloud app that handles payroll and makes the process a lot easier.

The buzz: Scott Raney, Redpoint Ventures says, 'There is an enormous hole in the market that these guys can fill (the incumbents are dumb and lazy).'

Plus, by handling payroll, they will be in tight with their customers and can easily 'expand the product to solve a broad array of problems associated with human resources.'

ZenPayroll has a lot of famous angels, too, including Yelp's Jeremy Stoppelman, Box's Aaron Levie, Zuora's Tien Tzuo.

Relationship: Not an investor, just thinks the company is interesting.

FreshBooks: amazing bootstrapped accounting company

FreshBooks CEO Mike McDerment

Name: FreshBooks

Funding: $0 from VCs.

What it does: A cloud alternative to QuickBooks.

The buzz: Arif Janmohamed, Lightspeed Venture Partners, says, 'This is an amazing company up in Canada. Over the past decade, they have quietly bootstrapped themselves to a user base of over 5 million users in the stodgy old world of accounting, invoicing and billing.' They are 'well on their way to building one of Canada's best companies.'

Relationship: Not an investor, just thinks the company is interesting.

Zuora: a new-age way to invoice customers

Tien Tzuo CEO Zuora

Name: Zuora

Funding: $US128 million

What it does: Zuora is a cloud service for invoicing customers that competes with financial apps from SAP and Oracle, but with a twist: it's designed for recurring billing. That makes it a popular tool used by cloud companies.

The buzz: In September, Zuora landed a hefty $US50 million in funding. Its cofounder and CEO, Tien Tzuo, was an early employee of Salesforce.com and Salesforce's CEO Marc Benioff is also an investor. 'Oracle and SAP are dead. They just don't know it yet,' Tzuo told Business Insider.

Relationship: Our pick.

CliQr Technologies: helps companies move apps to the cloud

Basab Pradhan, CEO, CliQr Technologies

Name: CliQr Technologies

Funding: under $US1 million in seed funds

What it does: Lets companies instantly move apps from one cloud to another, or from their own data center to the cloud. This is a tech that supports a hot area of enterprise tech called 'hybrid clouds' where companies run apps in their own data centres using the cloud as needed.

The buzz: Peter Levine from Andreessen Horowitz likes CliQr's tech because 'they move workloads around in the cloud.'

Relationship: Not an investor, just thinks the company is interesting.

Mixpanel: shows companies how their websites and apps are doing

Suhail Doshi CEO Mixpanel

Name: Mixpanel

Funding: $US12 million

What it does: Mixpanel is a cloud service that tells companies how their customers are using their websites and mobile apps.

The buzz: Peter Levine from Andreessen Horowitz says, 'Mixpanel has built the most advanced analytics platform for mobile and web, growing the number of actions they analyse to over 6 billion every single month.'

Relationship: Investor

Pertino: a smart new way to build corporate networks

Pertino CEO Craig Elliott

Name: Pertino

Funding: $US29 million

What it does: Pertino is a cloud service for building computer networks. No more buying network hardware (routers, switches, hubs). Instead businesses can connect their computers securely with Pertino's cloud for a monthly fee.

The buzz: Pertino is one of the new cloud companies arising from a new technology called 'software defined networking.' Once everyone had to buy network hardware. Now they can buy software. 'It's the de-lamination of the network,' Pertino CEO Craig Elliott told Business Insider.

Relationship: Our pick.

Quixey: the search engine for apps

Tomer Kagan, cofounder, Quixey

Name: Quixey

Funding: $US74 million

What it does: Quixey is a search engine for apps. It powers about 100 million searches a month and is used by companies like Microsoft, Sprint, and Ask.com

The buzz: Quixey just raised $US50 million including an investment from huge Chinese ecommerce site, Alibaba Group. The 29-year-old CEO cofounder, Tomer Kagan, is also a 'futurist' working with scientists to create tech for the future.

'By 2016, the mobile Internet will become the dominant form of Internet access ... Quixey is at the epicentre of this brave new world,' Kagen told Business Insider.

Relationship: Our pick.

BloomReach: a better way to shop using your smartphone

BloomReach CTO cofounder Ashu Garg

Name: BloomReach

Funding: $US41 million

What it does: BloomReach offers an ecommerce and web cloud service to retailers that analyses what customers are looking for and automatically gives it to them. It's used by companies like Neiman Marcus.

The buzz: BloomReach makes shopping on a smartphone suck less. It was founded by ex-Googler Ashu Garg who wanted to do for mobile shopping what Google did for the web. With BloomReach every page is 'personalised' for every user 'based on past experience,' Garg told us.

Relationship: Our pick.

Anaplan: an easier way to plan and predict

Anaplan CEO Frederic Laluyaux

Name: Anaplan

Funding: $US44 million

What it does: Anaplan is a cloud service for financial analysts. It's an alternative to using spreadsheets or expensive software from companies like SAP or Oracle. It helps companies predict the raw materials to buy, how to set up sales territories, what their quarterly sales profits will be, any tough financial problem.

The buzz: Anaplan can handle enormous amounts of complex data instantly. A year ago, it snatched a SAP exec, Frederic Laluyaux, as CEO. 'After two minutes of looking at the software, I called my wife at 8 a.m. and said I'm going to do this' and he quit SAP.

Relationship: Our pick.

Here's a look at the first crop of cloud success stories ...

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