According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, domestic digital advertising revenue in the US grew 20% to $59.6 billion in 2015, driven by 66% growth in the mobile segment to $20.7 billion. Social media advertising at $10.9 billion was the second-fastest growing segment with a 55% growth rate. Billion-Dollar Unicorn club member Sprinklr (Private:SPNK) is a fast-growing company helping companies manage their social media advertising spend.
New York-based Sprinklr was founded in 2009 by its current CEO Ragy Thomas. Prior to setting up Sprinklr, Ragy had worked in the marketing field at several other technology companies. Raised in India, Ragy had come to the US in his early twenties. He moved to New Jersey to do IT consulting for AT&T (NYSE:T) and Bell Labs, before moving to a dot-com during the boom of 2000. When the bubble burst, Thomas was responsible for the spin-out of the company's e-mail marketing unit, which later went on to become Bigfoot Interactive. He served as the chief technology officer there until it was acquired in 2005 by Alliance Data Systems (NYSE:ADS).
A year later, Ragy saw businesses steering from traditional e-mail marketing toward social media marketing. His experience helped him realize that with the explosion of social networks like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), brands were finding it difficult to manage advertising campaigns across multiple product lines and geographies. He figured that there was an opportunity to create a solution that could help big brands with a social software platform to cohesively manage each customer's social experience. With that idea in mind, he began coding social publishing tools in his spare bedroom and launched Sprinklr in September 2009.
Today, Sprinklr boasts of being one of the most complete social media management systems for the enterprise. Its platform helps brands with marketing, advertising, care, sales, research and commerce activities on social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (LNKD) and 21 other channels globally. The platform is able to successfully integrate with legacy customer-facing systems like email, CRM and the website to create a unified system of engagement that allows employees to collaborate in real time across business units, markets and departmental silos to manage customer experience - at scale. It offers its services across 75 countries and has names like McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Nike (NYSE:NKE), Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ) and Match.com (OTC:MTCH) as some of its clients.
Sprinklr is privately held and does not disclose its detailed financials. Analysts believed that in the fall of 2015, it had crossed $100 million in annualized revenue, growing 150% over the year. Sprinklr was bootstrapped for nearly three years. Since then, it has raised $228.5 million in funding from investors including Temasek Holdings, Battery Ventures, Intel Capital and Iconiq Capital. Its last round of funding was held in July this year, when it raised $105 million in a round led by Temasek Holdings that valued it at $1.8 billion. Prior to this round, Sprinklr had raised $46 million in March last year at a valuation of $1.17 billion.
Sprinklr is facing strong competition from bigger players like Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) and Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM). But to make itself competitive, the company has entered into several partnerships and acquisitions. Earlier this summer, it expanded its relationship with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The partnership allows Sprinklr to offer its applications on the Microsoft Azure cloud service. Additionally, the two companies are jointly developing a system that will integrate Sprinklr's marketing apps with Microsoft's tools, including business management software such as Dynamics, an analytics platform like Power BI and the applications suite Office 365.
Earlier this year, Sprinklr also entered into an agreement with Yelp (NYSE:YELP). Through that tie-up, Sprinklr's customers now have access to reviews and customer sentiment details on Yelp.
Additionally, the company also is growing its product offerings inorganically. Recently, it announced the acquisition of Portland-based social media tool Little Bird. Founded in 2011, Little Bird helps researchers quickly find the top experts and influencers on any given subject using Twitter. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Sprinklr plans to integrate Little Bird into its social media management platform's influencer and advocacy management solution. Earlier this summer, Sprinklr had acquired social analytics startup Postano. Postano's technology helps analyze trend data and convert it into graphics to be displayed on a website or digital displays in sports arenas or retail locations.
Many believe Sprinklr is now ready to go public. But with market valuations trending downwards and the IPO market still weak, the company may need to wait a while before it tests those waters.