Rokt Pte Ltd., an eight-year-old e-commerce marketing software provider, has raised $80 million in Series D funding. The round, which was led by investment firm TDM Growth Partners, Rokt’s largest backer, raises the company’s valuation by 42% to more than $450 million, the company said.
The investment in Rokt comes as online commerce is growing by leaps and bounds during the coronavirus pandemic: Consumers spent $466 billion online in the U.S. between March and September of this year, up 52% from the same period last year, according to Adobe Inc.
That has provided a lift to the technology vendors selling their services to businesses—from retailers to food-delivery companies—that are being forced to adapt.
E-commerce and technology companies are receiving greater attention in turn from private-equity firms and other investors, said Tom Cowan, a partner at TDM Growth Partners.
TDM in September participated in a $100 million Series E round for sustainable footwear maker Allbirds Inc., which has grown its business by selling directly to customers online.
“We need businesses that are growing revenue north of 25% per year,” said Mr. Cowan. “As it happens, there are only so many businesses and industries that can achieve that, and e-commerce is one of them.”
Other digital commerce-centric technology companies that have raised money this year include Profitero Inc., which provides tools to help brands manage the placement, presentation and pricing of products across online retailers, among other services.
Rokt offers tools that let companies make personalized marketing offers during and after a transaction. For example, New York Rangers fans purchasing seats at Madison Square Garden on Ticketmaster could also receive an offer to book parking at a nearby lot or to get a discount on Uber, depending on whether they are coming in from out of town or live near the arena. In other cases, Ticketmaster might simply want the fan to download its own app or view another internal marketing offer.
Live Nation Entertainment Inc., which owns Ticketmaster, is a Rokt customer, along with other companies in sectors such as travel, retail and subscription services.
Rokt’s technology enables such cross-selling and upselling efforts based on a client’s existing commercial relationships. It collects a technology fee from clients in the process. It also operates a marketplace to connect different businesses and vendors—including integrating payment and shipping providers—from which it takes a cut of the transaction.
The new funding will help Rokt continue investing in tools that enable e-commerce marketing deals and tech integrations as a customer is making a purchase. The company’s software originally focused on personalization within web real-estate after the transaction—for example, a marketing offer on a confirmation page after the customer made the purchase.
“E-commerce transactions require a lot of third parties to come together in the transaction moment,” said Bruce Buchanan, chief executive of Rokt. “Trying to make it personalized for the end customer was almost impossible—that was the problem we set out to solve.”
Existing investors in Rokt include venture-capital firm Square Peg, which also participated in the Series D round, and Lachlan Murdoch, the co-chairman of Wall Street Journal parent News Corp.
Rokt, which has been profitable since 2014, will make more money this year than it did last, even after accounting for the six-month pandemic-induced hole in the middle of the year, Mr. Buchanan added.
Before the coronavirus hit, the company was averaging weekly revenue of $2 million to $3 million and forecasting $140 million in revenue for the year. Once the pandemic took hold, business in areas such as travel and live entertainment fell sharply, while increasing in categories including food and subscriptions. Revenue has recently returned to pre-pandemic levels after beginning to rebound in late spring and early summer, Mr. Buchanan said.
Rokt now expects to finish the year with $100 million to $110 million in revenue, according to Elizabeth Buchanan, the company’s chief commercial officer. She and Mr. Buchanan are married and part of Rokt’s founding team.
With the new funding, Rokt plans to grow from 260 employees today to more than 400 by the end of 2021, while also expanding into new client groups and geographies—the market potential within e-commerce is strong as exemplified by investor interest in the category, Mr. Buchanan said.
“The future, in general, is in e-commerce,” he said. “There’s a greater need for technology to support it going forward.”
Article care of the Wall Street Journal, link below
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