Messaging Platform Sailthru Raises $19 Million To Build 'Smart Data'

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sailthruInvestment in all corners of ad tech shows no sign of slowing, but email marketing firms tend to be overshadowed by "big data." So it's fitting that as part of Sailthru's new $19 million second round, the  email marketing platform company hopes to generate attention for its set of offerings being marketed as "Smart Data."

In a conversation with AdExchanger, CEO Neil Capel said that proceeds from the funding will go towards expanding its engineering and sales teams around its Smart Data product.

"Unlike 'Big Data,' which merely exists in a passive state and can often be overwhelming, Smart Data powers decisions," Capel said.  "Sailthru’s Smart Data allows businesses to understand, predict, and engage each consumer on an individual level in real time."

Pressed to explain further, Capel said that Smart Data goes beyond the company's profile as an email marketing specialist to touch websites and apps. "The point is that you have to personalize every single experience that every digital user has at the point where you see them," he said. "Everything is so siloed, even when it comes to big data. What we are doing is the automated analysis of big data, which is this amorphous term that is really just about a collection of various sets of consumer information in one place. But there's no real-time action coming out of that collection."

In Capel's telling, Smart Data is just the next step after data becomes "big" when it is gathered in one place to be analyzed. The problem that Smart Data is intended to address is that by the time the big data has been gathered, "it's already out of date."

As for how Smart Data works in action, Sailthru's system automatically analyzes big data to generate "personalized communication" -- such as email -- with customers across all digital channels. The promise to marketers is that they'll be better able to not only collect data on consumer behavior, but can understand, predict and engage each consumer on an individual level in real time.

The other aspect of Sailthru's Smart Data that's different is that it ultimately revolves around email. But Capel doesn't want to pigeon-holed by what happens in consumers' inboxes.

This latest funding round was led by VC firm Benchmark, which was joined by Sailthru's previous backers, RRE, DFJ Gotham, and AOL Ventures. Sailthru has raised $9 million in previous funding including a $1 million seed round in 2010 and $8 million first round funding in 2011.

In addition to Smart Data, Capel said that Sailthru will add a few additional products this quarter -- he declined to specify -- while working on doubling the sales force over the next six months as the New York-based company goes from 85 to 160 staffers. While Capel doesn't rule out additional acquisitions, "that's not a focus of this round."

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