In both downturns and booms, businesses across industries face the challenge of building sales pipelines and locking in revenue. “Account-based” prospecting, i.e. researching potential customers, can help in the prospecting process. But it requires a thorough, vetted source of information and connections in departments such as business development, sales and recruiting.
That’s why a growing number of businesses rely on Crunchbase:, claims CEO Jagger McConnell. With roots in TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s pet project to index startups featured in TechCrunch articles, Crunchbase has evolved over the past 15 years into an API-based database of startups and financial reports, as well as a growing news section.
Crunchbase now attracts more than 75 million unique visitors annually and recently surpassed 60,000 paying customers, representing more than half of the Fortune 500, according to McConnell.
“We find and partner with qualified accounts while creating awareness for companies that want exposure,” he told TechCrunch via email. “Since our spinout [as an independent company in 2015] … we’ve built a prospecting platform powered by the best-in-class proprietary data we’re known for, allowing dealmakers to find and engage with qualified accounts while generating awareness for the companies they want to discover.”
Investors seem convinced. This morning, Crunchbase closed a $50 million oversubscribed Series D round led by Alignment Growth with participation from OMERS Ventures, Mayfield and Emergence Capital. CEO Jagger McConnell declined to disclose the valuation, but described it as a “significant upside.” Crunchbase had a $70 million post-money valuationAccording to PitchBook, a Crunchbase competitor, ironically.
“Crunchbase’s software-as-a-service platform combines rich and proprietary company data and direct access to decision makers within one intuitive interface at compelling price points, making it a powerful ROI tool across a variety of use cases. “From sales to recruiting and beyond,” Alignment growth partner Alex Iosilewicz said in an emailed statement. Iosilevic plans to join Crunchbase’s board of directors soon. “We expect Crunchbase to continue to gain accelerated industry adoption and are excited to support the company’s growth momentum with strong participation from the current investor group.”
The core of Crunchbase as it exists today is a research package for sales teams. The records show when the company was founded, its founders and executive management, and the stages of financing and debt (and their investors). Paid Crunchbase plans unlock data about competitors, history, and more.
Crunchbase employs a team of writers who cover funding rounds and other Crunchbase-related content on Crunchbase News. (This writer has been known to cite his work from time to time.) As for the primary database, it is updated manually and automatically through thousands of partnerships and syndication deals with LinkedIn, Business Insider, and others.
As McConnell sees it, Crunchbase can reduce the time sales teams spend prospecting by highlighting companies with “signals of growth,” such as funding rounds or increased product adoption.
“As difficult economic conditions affect more companies, knowing whether a target account is growing or not allows searchers to focus on decision makers with purchasing power,” McConnell said. “Our tools encourage account-based selling, which encourages deal makers to prioritize their prospecting efforts based on the companies they need to connect with, rather than individuals. This is the opposite of the ‘spray and pray’ approach, which relies on massive contact lists and results in the kind of spam that no one likes.”
Additions to the platform over the past few months have focused on discovery, such as allowing Crunchbase customers to find companies that fit a profile by filtering by area or characteristics such as “diversity.” Machine learning-based recommendations show new accounts and similar companies to consider, while customer relationship management data highlights accounts in search that may be new to a given vendor.
In addition to the reveal, McConnell pointed to Crunchbase’s recent improvements to qualification and tracking, such as a Chrome extension that shows the context of an account when it’s being researched. Crunchbase customers can now sync new accounts that meet their criteria with Salesforce and receive email notifications about “priority” accounts or lists created, saved searches, notes and match tags.
In terms of engagement tools, Crunchbase now displays searchable contact information for “decision makers” and integrates with email providers including Gmail. Customers can use an automatically generated email.
McConnell says Crunchbase resisted adding contact information “for a long time” because of privacy concerns, but eventually concluded that it was “incredibly valuable” to customers. “We’ve done our best to make sure we’re doing it the right way, encouraging informed awareness and complying with all laws and regulations as they currently stand,” he said. “Fortunately, our business model is not entirely dependent on contact information.”
Crunchbase competes not only with the aforementioned PitchBook, but also with CB Insights, Owler, and other search services and databases. LushaAn aggregated data platform for business-to-business sales, recently raised $205 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. While Apollo.io landed $110 million as its sales intelligence platform crossed 16,000 paying companies.
McConnell credits differentiation and raw ambition as the keys to Crunchbase’s continued growth. To that end, Crunchbase plans integrations with Hubspot and machine learning-powered offerings that suggest accounts, contacts, and tasks targeting different prospecting goals. Also in development are more sophisticated dashboards to help clients track “activity performance” on Crunchbase, including annual recurring revenue (ARR) generated from opportunities discovered through the platform.
“The onslaught of recent rounds and massive layoffs from companies that recently achieved unicorn status show how high burn rates can hide behind huge funding rounds, masking the reality of weak business fundamentals,” McConnell said. “I’m particularly proud of the fact that we’ve been able to generate growth while maintaining our burn rate. In the first half of this year, we drove $9 million in net new ARR with just $2 million in spend, which is best-in-class by Bessemer’s performance metrics and puts us on track for profitability… We plan to double our business-to-business. programmatic ARR this year, ending up with around $38 million in ARR for this customer segment alone.”
Crunchbase’s latest funding brings it to $106.5 million. According to McConnell, part of the proceeds will go toward expanding the team from 220 to 275 by the end of the year.