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VC Funds Flowing to Social CRM Companies

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This time it’s Lithium Technologies that attracted venture capital. It raised $53.4 million in a Series D funding round led by New Enterprise Associates. Other investors include SAP Ventures, the VC arm of German software giant SAP.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the venture capital market has cooled considerably in the past six months, citing data from the National Venture Capital Association and Pricewaterhouse Coopers that found U.S. venture investment hit $6.95 billion in 2011’s third quarter, up from $5.3 billion a year earlier but down 12 percent from $7.9 billion in the second quarter.

For Internet-specific companies, the third-quarter investment figure was $1.6 billion, a 33 percent drop from $2.4 billion in Q2.

According to the WSJ article, many venture capitalists including prominent ones like Marc Andreessen are looking for bargains – technology companies with relatively low valuations. Based on several recent investments, companies that offer social CRM software are attracting investor attention.

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Nimble, a provider of social CRM solutions, yesterday said it raised $1 million in seed funding in a round led by Google Ventures, Google’s venture capital arm. Also contributing were a lineup of prominent angel investors including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; Jason Calacanis, founder of several tech companies including Weblogs and Mahalo; former Microsoft start-up evangelist Don Dodge, now a Developer Advocate for Google; and Dharmesh Shah, founder and CTO of Hubspot and a blogger for OnStartups.com.

Now privately held Lithium Technologies, a social CRM provider with a client list including Best Buy, AT&T and PayPal, announced it raised $53.4 million in a Series D funding round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a VC firm that counts Data Domain, CareerBuilder, Groupon, Juniper, Macromedia and Salesforce.com among its prior investments. Former VMWare executive Pete Sonsini, an NEA partner and co-lead of its Enterprise, Infrastructure & Services (EIS) practice group, will join Lithium’s board of directors.

Other investors include SAP Ventures, the VC arm of German software giant SAP, and current Lithium investors Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Emergence Capital, Greenspring Associates, Shasta Ventures and Tenaya Capital.

Lithium has a new CEO, Adobe Systems veteran Rob Tarkoff. He joined the company in August, taking over from Lithium co-founder Lyle Fong, who now serves as Lithium’s Chief Strategist and sits on the board of directors.

This article was originally published on January 6, 2012
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