Salesforce Ventures looks to fuel Irish start-ups’ growth with new fund

Irish companies such as SalesOptimize have previously been backed the corporate VC

Salesforce Ventures, which has previously backed a number of Irish start-ups, has announced a new $125 million (€112 million) "Europe Trailblazer" fund for companies working in the enterprise cloud space.

"My message to any Irish cloud start-up is that Salesforce Ventures is here with a fund designed to fuel your growth," said Alex Kayyal, the group's European head.

The investment arm of one of the world’s largest software companies, Salesforce Ventures is one of the most active corporate VCs globally having invested in more than 300 tech start-ups since it was established a decade ago.

Among the companies Salesforce Ventures has backed through its various funds are Stripe, the online payments company founded by Limerick-born brothers Patrick and John Collison. Other portfolio companies include Dropbox, Docusign, Informatica, SurveyMonkey, Twilio, Vidyard and Zoom.



Salesforce Ventures introduced its first $100 million (€90 million) European-focused investment fund four years ago and since then has backed 50 start-ups in 13 countries, including Irish companies SalesOptimize and Datahug, which was acquired by US software firm CallidusCloud for $13 million (€11.6 million) in late 2016.

The VC has also previously invested in Irish consulting partner Pexlify, while Dublin-headquartered ID-Pal, was one of just 14 companies from across Europe selected last year to participate in its virtual incubator, EMEA Accelerate.

Among the European start-ups to have already gained investment under the new fund are GoCardless SigFox and WeFox.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Kayyal said Ireland had developed a deserved reputation as a European hub for tech businesses, which had been kick-started by multinationals like Salesforce.

“What is really exciting now is seeing the impact of this and that the tech community in Ireland has expanded to include a start-up scene,” he said.

Vibrant culture

“A start-up scene needs three key ingredients: access to capital, access to talent and a community of partners. I see all three as very strong in Ireland and that has helped to develop a really vibrant start-up culture, delivering some great success stories too,” Mr Kayyal added.

Looking further afield, he said while Silicon Valley had long led the way in terms of having a fully developed start-up ecosystem, the European market was continuing to mature.

“We’ve always seen certain locations dominate when it comes to investment. This is changing. Companies are increasingly looking internationally at their customer base. This is a natural shift away from US dominance to demonstrate impact and value in other markets,” he said.

“The best entrepreneurs are building bridges with the US. This is one of the areas where Salesforce Ventures can help Irish companies accelerate their growth,” Mr Kayyal added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist