The Market Implications of Sequoia Capital's Funding of Appirio
Last week Appirio announced that it had secured Series B financing of $5.6 million led by Sequoia Capital, the investment firm which has become notorious for also backing Google, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, and PayPal. Sequoia also funded one of my previous employers, International Network Services (INS), one of the high-flyers of the 1990s.
Appirio’s latest round of funding comes on the heals of a Series A investment of $1.1 million which it captured earlier this year from salesforce.com and angel investors. Although there is lots of VC money chasing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing opportunities, it is rare to have a start-up collect two rounds of funding in the same year.
What makes this latest round of funding for Appirio of interest to me is the implications which it has for the overall on-demand services market.
As I mentioned, I was a part of a Sequoia Capital-funded company in the 90s. Like Appirio, INS was a professional services company. While Appirio is focused on the on-demand services market, we were focused on the internetworking market. Like Appirio, we followed the 800-pound gorilla in the market at the time, Cisco Systems. Nearly every time Cisco won a big router contract with a service provider or enterprise customer, INS won the deployment contract because Cisco didn’t want to build a costly field service organization. Appirio has built a similar business helping companies develop and deploy solutions based on the salesforce.com and Google platforms because both of these companies have shied away from building their own consulting arms.
The Appirio and INS stories are also similar because they were both smart enough to see an opportunity to convert individual customer engagements into packaged service solutions.
INS’ engineers recognized the shortcomings of traditional network/systems management (NSM) platforms and built a network performance management software solution, EnterprisePRO, which we sold as a subscription service before the application service provider (ASP) and managed service provider (MSP) concepts were borne. Today, Appirio is productizing the end results of its customer engagements and reselling them on salesforce.com’s AppExchange.
Many analysts and trade pub reporters have questioned whether there is a role for consulting and professional services in the SaaS market. There is no question that traditional professional services firms such as Accenture and CAP Gemini are still searching for the right way to scale down their methodologies and costs to fit the on-demand services market. However, Appirio’s revenues have grown more than 400% in the last three months, during which over 1500 customers in 80 countries have adopted its on-demand solutions.
Appirio isn’t alone in experiencing tremendous success in the on-demand consulting business. Astadia, Bluewolf and SaaSpoint have also caught this tiger by the tail and are growing rapidly.
I’m pleased to be moderating a panel at the SIIA’s On-Demand conference in November that will include executives of Appirio, Astadia and SaaSpoint talking about the SaaS and cloud computing markets from their street-level professional services perspectives. I look forward to seeing you there.