UPDATED 09:00 EST / MAY 24 2017

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Smartsheet raises $52.1M to automate collaboration in the enterprise

Collaboration software supplier Smartsheet Inc. today announced it has raised $52.1 million in a Series F funding round led by existing investor Insight Venture Partners.

The money will be used to accelerate Smartsheet’s investments in product, sales and marketing, and infrastructure to support increasing demand for its platform, the company said.

Smartsheet offers a “collaborative work management platform” for teams and enterprises that’s designed to manage and automate the tracking, updating and reporting of collaborative projects and processes. This makes it distinct from better-known productivity suites such as Microsoft Corp.’s Officer 365 and Google Inc.’s G Suite, which are more focused on individual documents, spreadsheets and messages, Smartsheet Chief Executive Officer Mark Mader said in an interview.

“Nearly all of the 70,000 distinct organizations that subscribe to Smartsheet also subscribe to Office 365 or G Suite, which is evidence that customers can easily distinguish between the value provided by their preferred messaging and doc creation apps and Smartsheet’s collaborative work management offerings,” Mader said.

Smartsheet’s software actually integrates with popular business systems and cloud applications such as Office, G Suite, Salesforce and Atlassian to enable secure collaboration and data sharing across enterprises. Its familiar spreadsheet-based interface provides users with the “ability to track, update, report, automate and scale collaborative projects and processes in an easy-to-use, no-code way,” Mader added.

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Application complexity drives collaboration

Smartsheet’s latest round comes at a time when International Data Corp. forecasts rapid growth in the enterprise collaboration market. According to IDC, the market will grow by 32 percent over the next four years, hitting $25 billion by 2020. Smartsheet said it has already benefited from that growth, with its revenues increasing by 60 percent year-over-year for the past five years. It adds that its platform is used by “millions of information workers” in over 69,000 companies, including half of the Fortune 500, with customers including Netflix Inc., Aramark Corp., NBC Universal Media, LLC, Sony Music, Comcast Corp. and Weyerhaeuser Co.

The demand for collaborative tools such as Smartsheet’s is being driven by the increasing number and complexity of applications required to get work done in the enterprise, Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc., said in a statement.

“As the market evolves, an entirely new category of collaboration solutions is needed that organizes work, not just tasks, providing structure and accountability across the vast array of things people have to work on,” Lepofsky said. “Collaborative work management applications enable organizations to reduce the noise so people can focus on the important work that needs to get done.”

Reducing that “noise” even further is one of Smartsheet’s central aims, Mader said. He pointed out that the volume and velocity of collaborative work in many enterprises actually stifles innovation and productivity, and that those problems are compounded by “chatty” messaging applications that constantly distract workers. To counter this, Mader contended, workers need equipping with tools that can eliminate some of the most mundane, repetitive and unnecessary steps in their collaborative work.

“To that end, one of the most important components of Smartsheet’s product strategy is proactively eliminating steps from people’s workflows and collaborative interactions through automation, to allow them to achieve the same or better business outcomes with significantly less time invested,” Mader said.

The new round included existing investors Madrona Venture Group and Sutter Hill Ventures plus new investor Summit Partners. The round brings Smartsheet’s total financing raised to date to more than $120 million.

Image: unsplash/Pixabay

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