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Billion Dollar Unicorn: BloomReach Is a Reasonable Prospect

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 17th 2015

According to the Commerce Department estimates, web sales grew 15.4% to $304.91 billion in the US in 2014, crossing the $300 billion mark for the first time ever. This was the fifth consecutive year when e-commerce sales have reported a growth of more than 15% annually. E-commerce still accounted for a rather modest 6.5% of total retail sales excluding foodservice. Billion Dollar Unicorn club contender BloomReach is helping merchants improve their e-commerce sales by making search more relevant and personalized for the end customer. So far, they have done well.

BloomReach’s Offerings

Mountain View-based BloomReach was founded in 2009 by entrepreneur Raj De Datta and Google scientist Ashutosh Garg. Prior to setting up BloomReach, Raj had held several senior positions including as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures, Director of Product Marketing at Cisco, and founding team member at telecom company FirstMark/LambdaNet. It was during his tenure at Mohr-Davidow that Raj met marketers who were facing a core problem of spending huge amounts of money to get traffic to their websites. Essentially, marketers were looking to attract consumers to their content in a scalable way.

Raj also met co-founder Ashutosh who, at that time, was trying to build a better search engine. Soon, the two realized that they were both talking of addressing the same problem. They got together to build a web relevance engine that would “mine through the Internet, identify the best content and services out there, and deliver it in a well-structured way to discovering search engines and front doors to the Internet.” Thus, BloomReach was born to help businesses generate more benefits from their content by presenting the most relevant content to each visitor based on that visitor’s unique intent. It would help consumers have better experiences on every site.

BloomReach realizes that for businesses to convert the search query to a sale, businesses need to know how to structure their content so that it increases the probability that users find their content based on the query entered into a search engine. BloomReach’s system identifies the minimum set of relative content that must have new pages created for so that the probability of having that content discovered through a web search increases. Similarly, they improve discovery of content through social media using news feeds. They enable users, as they are browsing a site, to group products into an experience, thus making that group a persistent experience that lives on the site. When a new user comes to the site, he or she can find an existing experience and can follow, share, or modify it.

Today, BloomReach offers a suite of products to improve user experience and monetization. The site optimization tool BloomReach Compass uses information on how users search, navigate, and browse the merchant’s products to allow the merchant make informed decisions on the inventory display. Their Organic Search engine helps drive revenues by matching the site’s content with customer intent to help customers discover products. They have also improved the customer experience through BloomReach SNAP (Search, Navigation And Personalization) which generates a personal experience for each customer. BloomReach claims that their service helps increase traffic by as much as 80%. They have also successfully deployed their tools on the mobile to help retailers increase revenues from mobile sites.

BloomReach’s Financials

BloomReach does not disclose its financials. When I spoke with Raj back in 2012, the company was already growing at a fast clip and had more than $5 million in revenues in 2011. Today, their customer list includes names like William Sonoma, Neiman Marcus, Staples, and Wayfair.

BloomReach is venture funded with $41 million in funding from investors including Bain Capital Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Chris Dixon. I doubt they have reached the Billion Dollar Unicorn club yet, but they are a promising company that has a reasonable shot at getting there without needing to do funny financial engineering.

More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. Unicorns will also be discussed with some special guests during our 1M/1M Roundtable programs over the next few weeks. To be a part of the conversation, please register here. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.

This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorn

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