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Thursday, Jul 29, 2021

Salesforce invests $40 million in text-marketing startup Community

Salesforce invests $40 million in text-marketing startup Community

Salesforce's investment in Community comes as the upstart looks to expand its customer base.

Salesforce is investing $40 million in the text-marketing startup, Community, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The new funding, which comes through the company's investment division, Salesforce Ventures, brings Community's total amount raised to around $90 million.

Community first launched in 2019, raising tens of millions of dollars from investors like Ashton Kutcher to build an app where celebrities and influencers could send texts directly to their fans. Early users included Paul McCartney, Jake Paul, Ellen Degeneres, and Jennifer Lopez. In January, the company told Insider that it had begun targeting business customers in addition to celebrities.

"We've started moving into small businesses, streetwear brands, big brands, and we have over 6,000 leaders using our platform," Josh Rosenheck, the company's co-founder and chief product officer, said.

Community customers can use its platform to send out mass texts, one-to-one messages to followers, or custom texts to a select group of customers based on their location or demographic info. Users who opt into receiving messages can also text back.

Joshua Weissman, a YouTube star who began using Community last year while it was still invite-only, told Insider that the app had proven to be an effective way to keep in touch with his fans.

"I've only been promoting it a little bit, and I've got around 10,000 people on my text platform," Weissman said. "I sent out a text message and it went out to 9,900 [people]. It had a 98% open rate."

"I would compare it to Mailchimp, but the text version," Weissman added. "It's very similar in that fashion, but it's run through an app on your phone."

Interest in text marketing has been on the rise this year as media brands, digital creators, and advertisers look for new ways to reach audiences outside of email. Email platform Mailchimp acquired the text-marketing startup Chatitive in January.

"Over time, everyone's going to want to have a more real connection with the things that they care about," Rosenheck told Insider. "We wanted that to become adopted and understood as a new social paradigm, like, 'Oh wow, I can actually have a personal engaging relationship with people I love like the sports teams, the brands, the businesses that I love.'"

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