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Needle Raises $10.5M Series B

2012-07-04
SALT LAKE CITY, UT, Needle announced that it has closed a $10.5 million series B funding round, co-led by Shasta Ventures and Rembrandt Venture Partners.
Needle Inc. today announced that it has closed a $10.5 million series B funding round, co-led by Shasta Ventures and Rembrandt Venture Partners. This most recent round of funding will be used to accelerate the adoption of the company's social selling platform and expand its pool of brand experts and fans for its ecommerce clients.

Needle provides ecommerce companies the ability to link certified product experts and fans of the brand with customers shopping the site to provide guided shopping assistance via chat, video or voice. The experts and fans that Needle identifies and certifies use Needle's Guided Shopping platform - a complete web-based communications platform that was architected from the ground up to provide ecommerce shoppers with an in-store shopping experience online. "Needlers," as they are called, can access the platform anywhere they have an Internet connection, and customers connect with these fans and experts by clicking a banner or invitation on the ecommerce partner's site.

Needle's existing clients that utilize this model see dramatic improvements to site performance, in many cases doubling their ROI through increased sales conversion rates, better customer retention and improved Net Promoter Scores (NPS), a measurement of customer loyalty. Needle's clients each have NPS scores higher than 72 percent, compared to an industry average of 47 percent.

"Companies that continue to use antiquated text-based chat to provide customer experience are going to fall far behind in the ecommerce world," said Morgan Lynch, founder and CEO of Needle. "Today's buyer expects authenticity and expertise, and passing them off to a person in a contact center who has no genuine experience with the company's products and is using canned answers is the antithesis of that. Shasta and Rembrandt recognize the disruptive role Needle is playing in the ecommerce world and we're looking forward to working with them as we fix real-time shopping interactions online and disrupt the $100 billion global contact center space."

Jim Barnett, a partner at Shasta Ventures, and Douglas Schrier, a partner at Rembrandt Venture Partners, will both join Needle's board of directors.

Prior to joining Shasta, Barnett was the chairman, CEO and co-founder of Turn, the leading platform for managing data driven digital advertising. Before that he was president of Overture Search, a division of Overture Services, Inc. Barnett joined Overture via its acquisition of AltaVista Company, where he was president and CEO. In this role, he led the company's successful turnaround and sale to Overture.

Schrier is an investment and private equity veteran with over 20 years of experience funding, managing and developing technology companies. He has invested approximately $140 million into 22 startups over the past 15 years with 14 realizations that have produced over a 5X return, and was the Co-Founder, COO & CFO of Multum Information Services and President of Ceon Corporation.

"The platform Needle has architected over the last two years has the potential to change the ecommerce landscape," said Jim Barnett, Partner at Shasta Ventures. "Ecommerce companies have been focused on social commerce without a lot of measurable results. Needle's platform takes fans and experts from places like Facebook and literally puts them to work by inserting them into the sales process."

Prior to this round, Needle raised a series A round of $2 million. This marks the second time Shasta Ventures has invested in a company founded by Lynch, having previously backed his startup company Logoworks, which was acquired by HP in 2007.

About Needle

Needle created a new model of social commerce that provides ecommerce websites with real-time expert shopping assistance. Needle's innovative chat and voice communications platform enables experts and product owners to engage online shoppers, significantly raising conversion and Net Promoter Scores. Needle has experts and fans ready to help in most categories ranging from electronics to cosmetics, and is pioneering a new work model called "Fan Sourcing." For more information about how Needle works and who Needle works for, please visit www.needle.com. Needle is a privately held company based in Salt Lake City. Needle¨ is a registered trademark of Needle Inc.

About Rembrandt Venture Partners

Rembrandt Venture Partners (RVP) is a leading technology venture capital firm focused solely on helping entrepreneurs build great companies that change the way we live and work. RVP's investment team includes individuals with successful track records in both venture capital investing, with over $1.3 billion realized, and operating roles at companies such as Opsware (acquired by HP for $1.6 billion) and Splunk (in IPO registration). Current RVP investments include CloudOn, InsideView, Ooyala and Zenprise. Past investments include Cavium Networks (NASDAQ: CAVM), Good Technology (acquired by Motorola) and IronPort (acquired by Cisco Systems). To learn more about Rembrandt Venture Partners, please visit www.rembrandtvc.com.

About Shasta Ventures

Shasta Ventures is an early-stage investment firm focused on companies in the consumer-Internet, mobile and software sectors. Shasta was formed to back brilliant entrepreneurs with an unwavering commitment to the customer experience. The firm is based in Menlo Park, California. For more information, go to www.shastaventures.com, or follow us on Twitter at @shasta.
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