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Is Your Data an Asset or a Liability? Introducing Our Newest Investment: BigID

Harnessing and understanding your customer data is key to driving better customer insights, and improving the customer experience. Companies that embrace digital transformation — including predictive technology powered by AI and data analytics — are better able to leverage that data. They benefit by achieving a better understanding of their customers, and customers in turn receive a better, personalized experience.

Vast amounts of data are required to provide meaningful results and customer insights for companies. Gartner predicts that by 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention “information” as a critical enterprise asset, and analytics as an essential competency. And as consumer data-protection laws (such as GDPR in the EU, CCPA in California, and numerous others), as well as forward-thinking corporate policies, proliferate in markets worldwide, understanding, securing, and permissioning these datasets becomes a strategic imperative.

This is why we’re excited to announce that we’re investing in BigID, a leading provider of customer data privacy software. BigID uses advanced machine learning and natural language processing techniques to discover, map, and catalog company data while enhancing compliance with data privacy regulations in the world of big data on a global scale.

More Data, More Vulnerability

BigID provides a critical solution in understanding your data as well as ensuring customer data privacy and protection. BigID enhances a company’s ability to derive valuable insights from their data while ensuring that data is used in an ethical and legal manner.

Every year, new laws are enacted to govern the use of personal data. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) — plus similar privacy regulations introduced in a dozen states — are designed to ensure that companies have control and security measures in place for their customer data. Regulatory, customer, and reputational consequences for companies that fail to meet these requirements can be significant. The reward for businesses who fully understand their customers on a 1–1 basis is massive.

These trends are driven by the fact that there is more data now than ever. Petabytes of it, much of it generated about customers by companies and stored across various corporate data silos. The volume of data, and complexity of repositories, make data vulnerable to being lost, misplaced or otherwise misused.

Traditional data-discovery tools — while helpful workflow tools for managing known sensitive personal information — are not set up to discover personal information (PI) and personally identifiable information (PII) required by these privacy laws. Data that is often buried deep in complex, unstructured data lakes. There is simply too much data for current tools to easily find and assess a specific individual across so many information sources. These new regulations require enterprises to understand whose data they have, where that data is, and to have clear policies documenting why they are collecting it. Many companies are not equipped to meet these demands.

BigID = Big Picture

In BigID, we see the potential for using ML and NLP techniques to find hidden and uncatalogued customer information and ultimately create a more complete picture of that customer. With these insights, a company powered by BigID can more easily spot privacy risks and ensure data is being used properly — as well as allow you to understand your customer base to the fullest.

As businesses, we have an ethical and legal responsibility to protect our customers, while simultaneously providing them the best possible value and experience. Data is key to helping us serve customers better — and BigID is key to unlocking and protecting your data.

To that end, we see BigID as a necessity for any company that values its customers, following regulatory and industry best practices, and corporate responsibility. Its vision of managing the data of the “whole customer” is key to the future of data-driven business. We’re excited to partner with BigID as they continue to drive forward their vision of a customer-centric approach to data.

To learn more about BigID, visit:


Our Investment in Qualified: A Conversational Marketing Platform

As the roles between traditional business teams blur, our tools need to follow suit. This is especially true with sales and marketing, where interested parties must be converted into leads and then customers. To do this quickly, accurately, and efficiently — and constantly — makes all the difference in the modern business environment.

Our Salesforce ecosystem supports many of the tools to integrate these teams. The math is pretty simple: Better information from marketing equals more closed deals for sales. Hopefully, this happens fast. Ideally, this happens instantaneously.

As sales and marketing teams evolve, we continue to look for partners who share our interest in making the pipeline more efficient. To that end, we’re excited to announce our investment in Qualified. Qualified’s conversational marketing platform turns any marketing website into an instant online meeting, allowing B2B sales teams to meet qualified buyers in real-time, using a full stack of online meeting tools including live chat, voice calls, screen sharing, chat-bots, and automated meeting scheduling. Because Qualified is built natively on Salesforce and works closely with Salesforce CRM & Salesforce Pardot, it’s a natural fit for our ecosystem.

Reaching customers at speed means meeting them where they are. Historically, “meeting them where they are” required customers to fill out forms online that were then passed on to sales reps to follow up later with a phone call or email. This has proven to be inefficient for sales, who contact leads after a potential customer has already moved on.

Now, we’re seeing a huge rise in omnichannel communication with prospects: text, video, chat, and email. This is the space Qualified occupies; enabling sales reps to have conversations with sales-ready prospects while they’re on a company’s website — in real-time. All of this happens through an app embedded in the customer’s website. Prospects get routed directly to reps, who can immediately engage in a high-fidelity sales conversation using a full set of meeting tools, including chat, screen share, and voice calls. Qualified accelerates the timeline from lead to opportunity.

Our history with the Qualified team runs deep and we’re thrilled to be working with Co-Founders Kraig Swensrud and Sean Whiteley again. Kraig and Sean previously founded GetFeedback, a customer survey tool for Salesforce and a Salesforce Ventures portfolio company. Before that, the two worked for search-engine marketing firm Kieden, which Salesforce acquired in 2006. Kraig and Sean have been instrumental in shaping the integration of sales and marketing, and we see Qualified as the next step in that evolution. We are excited to partner with them once again and welcome them back to the Salesforce Ventures portfolio.


Our Investment in Blend: Transforming the Lending Experience

The mortgage industry is going through a period of rapid transition and change. The drivers of this have been present for quite some time, stemming back to the previous housing boom that contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown. After the financial crisis, many of the mortgage lenders that sprung up in the boom closed their doors, sending all the mortgage volume back to the large banks. Given the lack of competition, along with an enhanced regulatory burden, these banks no longer needed to provide the best consumer service — and didn’t have any forcing function to move off of their legacy software tools or pen-and-paper loan application processes. However, it was just a matter of time until the housing market bounced back, the competition returned to mortgage lending, and borrowers demanded a more friendly experience when contemplating the mortgage and home buying process.

Today, we are excited to share that Salesforce Ventures has made a strategic investment in Blend, who is aiming to do nothing short of overhaul the mortgage origination and application experience. As Salesforce and Blend jointly aim to digitize the lending workflow for customers, we’re excited to see the partnership continues to evolve. It’s been an incredible opportunity to spend time with such a talented founding team, and we look forward to partnering more closely with Nima, Erin, and the entire management team to help them realize their vision.

Continued Leadership in the Mortgage Space

Blend is a leader in digital lending software today, working with customers representing ~25% of the US mortgage market. The product’s technical sophistication to manage a number of complex integrations both inside and outside the lender at scale, and its ability to collect and act on the borrower data captured in the process is used to create a seamless mortgage experience for the end borrower. This results in much faster mortgage close rates for Blend’s customers, which can cut the origination process down by weeks at times. This is all corroborated by Blend’s impressive customer list which includes household names such as Wells Fargo, US Bank, SunTrust, Movement Mortgage, and Lennar, just to name a few.

Aiming to Drive Financial Services Forward

Blend is leading a revolution to make all consumer financial transactions available in one tap within the next five years. The company’s lending platform reaches beyond the mortgage process and aims to create a unified digital user experience for other loan categories across a financial institution. Blend’s vision is to create an ecosystem that can leverage the data captured in its platform to enable more transparent and consumer-friendly distribution of third-party financial services and products.

Strategically Valuable End Market

The movement of the entire mortgage workflow process to the cloud has been a key driver and tailwind for Salesforce’s Financial Services Cloud strategy for quite some time. CRM is only one key piece of a loan officer’s workflow to originate a loan and build relationships with their end customers — the loan origination system (LOS) which acts as the system of record to price a loan, and the digital lending platform which acts as the glue between both the LOS and CRM to provide a seamless and transparent application experience for the end customer is also needed.

In recent years, digital lending platforms like Blend have emerged as a disruptive force, ultimately providing a user experience that customers and borrowers love, along with transparency into an industry that historically may not have prioritized it — it’s now a critical and necessary component of the mortgage workflow that ties the entire experience together. As Salesforce continues to help drive digital transformation for our customers in the lending space as the system of record for customer relationships, it’s paramount for Financial Services Cloud to have close lending digital lending platform go-to-market partners in order to provide more integrated end-customer lending experiences.

We could not be more excited to work closely with the Blend team as we collectively look to continue helping the financial services industry navigate its transition to the cloud, and build a more robust and transparent lending process for our joint customers and their borrowers.

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