SOCi, a platform that helps national brands manage their marketing locally, closed its $80 million Series D on Thursday with an eye on growth.
The round, led by JMI Equity with participation from existing investor Ankona Capital, brings the company’s total funding to just over $137 million since 2014. Afif Khoury, SOCi’s CEO and cofounder, and Doug Winter, CEO and cofounder of sales enablement platform Seismic, also contributed.
Most of the money will go towards new product development, sales marketing and strategic M&A. SOCi’s plan is to increase headcount which stands at 200, by around 30% to 40% this year.
According to Khoury, demand has been up during the pandemic as national brands increasingly rely on local search to reach their customers with information on product availability, hours of operations, whether or not certain locations are open for business and other fluctuating logistical tidbits.
SOCi signed up around 100 new brand customers in 2020, including Hertz, Anytime Fitness and Ace Hardware.
“Localization is now a higher priority for these organizations,” Khoury said.
SOCi’s technology was specifically designed to service multilocation companies and national or global brands with hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of storefronts and franchises run by local managers or franchise owners.
The same messaging that might work for a national campaign, for example, doesn’t always work in a local market or might come off as obtuse or out of touch in a certain region.
“It’s a unique kind of marketing problem, because they have to figure out how to market and stay on brand while reaching audiences that are often quite different from each other, depending on the market,” Khoury said.
The product suite includes tools for managing listings, local pages, social, search, ads, reviews and AI-powered chatbots.
The listing management function inside of SOCI’s platform allows a store to enter information about its location, such as address and hours, one time and then automatically disseminate that information across the roughly 200 listing sites that Google and others use to rank businesses in search. SOCi also makes sure that the info is correct and consistent.
In terms of potential M&A, SOCi will be poking around point solutions in the relatively small localized marketing ecosystem.
“Multilocation brands need a platform, not five or six different logins,” Khoury said. “And so we’re looking to consolidate the field with one or two competitor acquisitions.”
Although SOCi has experienced periods of profitability since it was founded in 2012, it’s not profitable at the moment, but that’s by design, Khoury said.
“When we raise capital, the goal is to grow,” he said. “And so, currently, profitability is not our top concern, but we’ll march back in that direction once we’ve added more infrastructure.”