Buzzient Snaps Up $1.1M to Put Toward Social CRM Software, Talent

8/26/11Follow @xconomy

Boston-based Buzzient, a maker of software enabling businesses to use social media to more effectively keep tabs on their customers, has taken in $1.1 million in equity based funding.

CEO Timothy Bernard Jones says the financing is an inside round, led by his own seed fund TBJ Investments. Other investors are TiE Angels Boston, Buzzient board members John Luongo and Ann Fudge, and serial entrepreneurs Allen Graber (of Atlanta) and Ralf Faber (Boston). The deal includes a $500,000 convertible debt investment the company inked in 2008, which has now been converted to equity. The SEC document Buzzient filed yesterday indicates that the total funding round could hit $1.4 million.

“Development hiring is the number one priority,” says Jones of where the company will put the money. It will also add to its sales and marketing staff. The startup now has a head count of a dozen that it hopes will hit 30 by the end of this year, says Jones.

Buzzient has no definite plans to raise venture capital funding in the future. “Our thought process all along has been, if we can build this company without raising VC and build a world-class company, we will do it,” he says. If the company does seek outside funding, “it’s going to come down to the specific partner and the specific firm—it has to be the right venture capital relationship,” says Jones.

Buzzient, which started in Cambridge but set up an office in Boston’s innovation district last year, is different from others in the cluster that use social media for company marketing. (That area has seen some deals lately, including HubSpot’s acquisition of Oneforty.) Rather, Buzzient’s analytics software uses natural language processing to crawl the Internet for what the public is saying about a given company, and firms use that information to make decisions on products or markets to target. Businesses—like financial services firm Motley Fool, life sciences technology developer PerkinElmer, Seattle-based RealNetworks and its GameHouse division—use it to track macro-level market conditions and customer reactions to a company’s existing products and features.

The Buzzient technology can help customer service departments keep tabs on customers’ tweets about a company, as Twitter handles are becoming another item that companies track in customer relationship management (CRM) databases. The software is the only Oracle-validated integration for social CRM with Oracle’s existing customer relationship management products, says Jones, who started his career at Oracle.

“We’re using social as part of the operational 24/7 business process; we’re not using social for a purely campaign-driven exercise or only for lead generation,” says Jones.

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