SteelBrick masters the money machine -- raises $48m in Series C

Configure, price, quote. Not the sort of words that gets the juices flowing. But for organizations looking to eek out maximum profitability, CPQ is important.

atm cash machine money (CC BY 2.0)

SteelBrick is a company that is built for a new way of doing business. For those unaccustomed to the vagaries of product pricing and quoting, the fact that a vendor exists (in fact, many vendors exist) to help with this process might seem a little bizarre. After all, isn't it simply a case of working out costs, applying your preferred margin and sending that price to the customer?

Well, apparently not -- there is massive science around pricing and, as competition heats up, organizations look to make the most revenue out of their opportunities. Finding the exact price that is best to apply to a particular product or service is a big requirement for modern organizations.

SteelBrick responds this needs, its software-as-a-service applications, which are themselves built on the Salesforce platform, fulfill the life cycle from quoting through to cash receipt -- the company delivers configuration, pricing, quoting and billing apps. SteelBrick claims over 350 high-growth companies including Cloudera, Nimble Storage, HootSuite and Marketo.

SteelBrick, which has previously raised $30 million from a host of backers, is today announcing a further $48 million Series C round. The round was led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), with substantial participation from existing investors Salesforce Ventures, Emergence Capital and Shasta Ventures.

The interesting name in there is Salesforce, for a number of reasons. Firstly, SteelBrick is built on top of Salesforce's own platform and is also broadly applicable to a vast number of Salesforce customers. So the investment is a natural fit, right?

Well, yes. But then it is worth noting that Salesforce is also a massive backer of another CPQ vendor, this one also built on Salesforce's platform, Apptus. What is Salesforce doing backing two competing vendors within its ecosystem? Weird, huh? Salesforce's DreamForce conference had a bunch of these vendors in attendance -- Apptus, SteelBrick and PROS were on all the show floor doing their thing.

For its part, SteelBrick seems to be growing well. The company tells me that they have seen 300 percent bookings growth over the past year with a 200 percent growth in raw customer numbers. Those metrics would seem to be borne out when looking at an independent assessment of the different vendors in the space (see below).

CPQ is potentially one of the more boring technology sectors. Take IT, long thought of as having little sex appeal, and apply it to the finance sector, another business function that isn't exactly dripping in allure, and you have a double whammy of yawn. But despite that, CPQ is actually an important space. And if the area they're in isn't sexy, maybe the $48 million funding will make up a little for that.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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