Mutiny—a San Francisco-based startup that lets B2B brands personalize their websites in real time for dozens of audiences—has raised $18.5 million, led by Sequoia Capital, along with participation from Cowboy Ventures and Uncork Capital.
As part of the Series A round, announced today, Mutiny has also recruited a group of angel investors who are plenty familiar with the challenges of marketing: the past and present chief marketing officers of companies including Snowflake, Salesforce and Carta.
CMOs aren’t necessarily the group that everyone associates with investing.In fact, according to a Crunchbase search of nearly 37,000 publicly listed angel investors, just 143 have the title of CMO—or 0.4% of total investors listed—compared to around 9,300 with the title of CEO or founder.Plus, having notable marketers backing Mutiny also gives the startup extra clout in the very crowded world of marketing tech.
“The message just really resonates with CMOs because it’s a problem you’re always solving,” says former Salesforce CMO Lynn Vojvodich.“And you’re always trying to figure out who are our best customers, who are our best leads, how do we communicate with them, move them to action and into the funnel and how do we convert them.”
Mutiny cofounder Jaleh Rezaei says marketers have spent the past decade focused on technology that drives demand, but the past few years have been “the awkward teenage years” in terms of maturing to conversion and owning the revenue part of a business.She and cofounder Nikhil Mathew came up with an idea to solve this while working together at cloud-based human resource software company Gusto, where Rezaei ran marketing and Mathew led one of the software engineering teams.
To convert users into customers, they developed a way to personalize the company’s website for various types of visitors.
However, every optimization they wanted had to be built bespoke—and also pulled away engineering resources from other parts of the business.
MORE FOR YOU Born In The Metaverse: Will RTFKT’s New Avatar Project Be The Next Big Thing In NFTs And Fashion? Josh Richards Is Bringing Back The Woolly Mammoth NFTs Reshape Brand Marketing In The Creator Economy After leaving Gusto, Rezaei and Mathew joined Y Combinator, where they created a way to optimize websites for dozens of audiences in real time, based on data from CRM companies like Salesforce and Hubspot, as well as advertising platforms including LinkedIn, Facebook and Google.
In 2018, they used that tech to launch Mutiny, which has gained some traction with brands jumping on the conversion ship: The cofounders say the company is generating $2 million in annual recurring revenue and is on target to quadruple its growth in 2021 without any marketing spend.Customers include rapidly growing B2B businesses like Carta, Brex and Qualtrics.Mutiny’s platform also allows for thousands of permutations, Mathew says, while various playbooks let customers make decisions manually or based on recommendations.
“We’ve spent the last decade perfecting how to drive top-of-funnel demand, and driving top-of-funnel demand is not easy,” Rezaei said.“Marketing is using data and technology and customer knowledge to basically go out into the world and identify anybody that could be a great fit for their product to understand the product within a few seconds.”
Mutiny’s funding comes just months after Intellimize—another startup that uses AI to personalize and optimize websites for driving conversions—announced a $30 million Series B round in July led by Cobalt Capital.
While personalizing websites might not seem all that novel, customers and investors say it’s harder than it looks, especially at scale.Companies often view their website as an “afterthought” when it’s “the most important marketing asset,” said Mutiny angel investor Emily Kramer.That’s something she’s seen firsthand in her previous roles leading marketing companies like Carta and Asana as well as her startup, MTK1, which helps companies build out their marketing functions.
“Often, there isn’t even one person at a company who owns the website and is responsible for its success, which is crazy because it’s your front door,” Kramer said.“People spend all of this money and time getting people [to the website], and then they don’t make sure that once they are there, they convert or they know who they are.
…Or they don’t have custom landing pages or custom content.”
Alex Poulos—who was CMO of DocSend before it was acquired by Dropbox—said startup founders used the software for pitchdecks, while sales used it for proposals and investment bankers for transactions.Rather than making something so generic that it catered to the “lowest common denominator” in a way that wasn’t impactful to any specific group, he said Mutiny allowed Docsend to show various types of customers a website based on their needs.That led to him running 100 different versions of the website.
“I wanted to do personalized marketing all the way down to the bone,” he said.
While other companies have done what Mutiny does in the past, it usually requires large growth teams heavily staffed with engineers, according to Bogomil Balkansky, who spent much of his career on product marketing and infrastructure teams before joining Sequoia as a partner last year.He said Mutiny’s value was “immediately obvious.”
“Personalization has always been the holy grail of marketing,” Balkansky said.
“You don’t need to explain to marketers that if you personalize messages you’ll get better results.That’s a given.But we just have never had good enough, simple enough tools to do it at scale.”
Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee—who famously coined the term “Unicorn” for companies valued at $1 billion—said VCs have in recent years been hesitant to invest in marketing and advertising technology startups because there’s been a “graveyard” of startups in the category that have failed.However, she recalled her notes from meeting Rezaei when Mutiny was participating in Y Combinator and compared Mutiny as “the other half of Google.”
“The results they’re driving are pretty exceptional, and I think this is where the world is going,” she said.“When you think about vitamin versus painkiller, this is, like, a serious painkiller.This really isn’t about fundraising—I think this is really about the future of marketing.”
Why CMOs Are Investing In Mutiny
Vojvodich, who met Rezaei back in 2018, said it was “super smart” of Rezaei to recruit some safe seed investors who are CMOs that know the space and that could potentially help scale the business.
She added that sales teams often say they need more leads, but they often should focus more on converting the leads they already have.
“If you want more leads, I can stand on a corner in San Francisco and get you a ton of leads, but those aren’t the leads you need,” Vojvodich said.“You need to convert the people that are already showing interest in our product and how we move them along the different stages in the pipeline.So much was focused on that top-of-funnel, getting the awareness out there, and then kicking it over to the sales team.Well, that’s not really how it operates.”
Anthony Kennada, CMO of the events technology startup Hopin, invested through Camelback Ventures.
The former CMO of companies such as Front and Gainsight said other marketing tech companies he’s used in the past were the equivalent of “read-only” files that gave data on performance but didn’t include tools for improving anything.
“It feels like two years ago we were all talking about account-based marketing, the Demandbases and Engagios, etc.,” he said.“And if [Mutiny’s] successful, we’ll be talking about conversion in the next two years.”
I’m a Forbes staff writer and editor of the Forbes CMO Network, leading coverage of marketing and advertising especially related to the ever-evolving role of chief
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I’m a Forbes staff writer and editor of the Forbes CMO Network, leading coverage of marketing and advertising especially related to the ever-evolving role of chief marketing officers.I also manage a number of Forbes lists including World’s Most Influential CMOs, World’s Most Valuable Brands, CMO Next, 30 Under 30 Marketing & Advertising U.S.category and the 30 Under 30 Europe Media & Marketing category.Previously, I was a staff writer at Adweek reporting on marketing and technology and before that covered business and politics in Alabama for The Associated Press and The Birmingham News.Email me at [email protected] with news tips or other story ideas..