Podium Raises $125 Million, Pivots to Messaging

Amidst all of the commotion around COVID-19 and shutdowns, there is still some active funding news that we find interesting. Today, Podium announced a $125 million C round. According to TechCrunch, the company is now valued at around $1.5 billion.

From Modest Beginnings

Podium launched in 2014 with a seed round of $500,000. It has since become a leader in the review space for local and small businesses. We anticipate Podium will use some of its fresh capital to consolidate the reviews and customer engagement space.

We also find Podium’s new positioning as a customer messaging platform intriguing. Like others in the review generation space, Podium has evolved its product to help businesses deliver better customer experiences and is now focusing on “messaging tools for local businesses”. Earlier today we wrote about a similar pivot by Podium competitor BirdEye.

Podium’s evolution is a natural extension of its original proposition to make it easy to get online reviews. Extending into the customer conversation enables Podium and others in this space to focus on helping local businesses gain a better footing against large national and regional players.

A Huge Available Market

While Podium is probably the leader today in terms of valuation and money raised, even they only have some 50,000 customers. Adding Podium’s 50,000 customers to those using BirdEye, Broadly, GatherUp, Signpost, and others still only gets to perhaps 200,000 SMBs. This is just a sliver of the total addressable market, whichever small business denominator you use.

What seems certain to me is that local businesses must raise the level of customer experience they deliver to prospects and customers. Given the state of the world, buyers will certainly require even higher perceived levels of trust.

Time will tell if Podium can take its latest round of money — secured at a time of great anxiety — and seize the opportunity to break away from the pack.

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