FullContact slurps up cash and contacts

Because my contact list is long, complex, and full of outdated info and duplicates.

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Ben Patterson

Like many people in this modern, hyper-connected age, I have a huge number of people that I'm in contact with. Not only do I have a lot of contacts, but I also have contact lists that exist in multiple locations -- there's my email contact list, of course, but also Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and 101 other locations where my "posse" exists. Managing all these contacts, while very much a first-world problem, is a pain. People change jobs regularly, duplicated contacts get created, and generally one's connections live (at least in a digital sense) in a bunch of different silos.

This is the very problem that FullContact was designed to solve. The company bills itself as a contact management platform and is all about helping people to master the breadth of their contacts. FullContact does this via a suite of different applications and APIs. I use FullContact to automagically massage my Gmail contacts in the background, for example. I also use a FullContact contact application on my phone and a separate business card-scanning application the company offers.

The company is today announcing a $25 million funding round led by Foundry Group with participation from Baird Capital, Shea Ventures and Blue Note Ventures. This raise is interesting in terms of both scale and timing.

Clearly, the venture capital industry is currently undergoing something of a contraction. While a year or two ago a $25 million round would have appeared relatively modest (which in itself indicates just how removed from reality we all are), deals of this size are less common today. This deal also more than doubles FullContact's funding to date.

All of which would indicate that FullContact has actually found a scalable and repeatable business model, something that has been sorely missing in this general space in the past. Contact management, while a very obvious need, is a notoriously difficult space to monetize. Indeed, the broader space of delivering insights into connections -- be it from an email inbox tool such as Rapportive or Xobni, or a "virtual EA" service such as Accompany -- is a hard nut to crack.

But FullContact would appear to have overcome this burden, at least if its investors can be believed. "With over 40 billion contact records under management, FullContact was already on track to more than double recurring revenue for the fourth straight year," said Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group. "The funding will be used to support the company's rapid growth by further expanding sales, marketing and engineering, as well as pursuing strategic acquisitions that bolster our technology and data assets."

Interestingly, FullContact has flagged that at least some of the funding will go toward strategic acquisitions -- likely a smart strategy in a space with lots of players and limited angles for commercialization. These future acquisitions will add to the ones FullContact has already made: Cobook, a mobile contact management application; nGame, a SaaS-based enterprise customer data intelligence solution; and Brewster, a social address book enabling users to access contact information across networks.

FullContact seems to be finding a path through the notoriously difficult journey of revenue generation for a company of its type. It will be interesting to see where the path leads.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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