The growth in social networking solutions is also infiltrating the CRM industry. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, organizations are spending more money on improving their engagement initiatives with consumers. The research firm projects that social CRM market will grow 36.5% annually from $1.91 billion in 2013 to be worth $9.08 billion in 2018.
Lithium Technologies’ Offerings
Emeryville-based Lithium Technologies was founded in 2001 as a social site for video gamers by professional video game enthusiasts and brothers Lyle and Dennis Fong. Soon, the company evolved to offer a social networking platform that enables organizations to build customer communities. Lithium’s technology helps promote brand awareness, improve sales, reduce service costs, and accelerate innovation for an organization.
Their SaaS offering converts the organization’s web portals into social destinations across multiple connected devices so that they can engage with their customers. The integrated platform not only helps initiate engagements with customers, but also manages these engagements by offering customer support and driving traffic to online communities. Additionally, the tool helps in analyzing these conversations to track performance over multiple social support channels and getting insight into what delivers most value to ensure optimization of marketing dollars.
Lithium’s core product Lithium Communities integrates features from sites like Facebook with their customer’s websites and delivers the highest ROI. Last October, when I spoke with their Chief Scientist, Michael Wu, he explained how their Communities tool uses big data to create a gamification platform that influences consumers to share brand-related content. Lithium Social Web is designed for a contact center. It lets support executives respond to customers by replying through community answers and integrates analytics into agent productivity. Lithium’s mobile initiative lets an organization’s customers access their Communities over any device and their Social Intelligence tool combines social tools with performance metrics to provide analytics into returns from social consumer engagement programs.
Lithium claims that their products help deliver impressive RoI figures. Their products have helped them grow their customer list which includes AT&T, Lenovo, BT, and Cisco to name a few. They have more than 91 million users each month and have helped grow the tight-knit community of brand ambassadors on the Web for several organizations.
More recently, Lithium announced the $200 million acquisition of Klout, a social score startup. Founded in 2008, Klout uses a scoring process to assign a rank to a user to determine the amount of influence that the user has on the social media. Their products provide insight to brands for improving online activity. Prior to the acquisition, Klout had raised over $40 million in venture funding and had just started turning in double digit millions in revenues. The acquisition will help Lithium improve their social media offerings.
Lithium does not disclose financials, but according to market analysts, they were trending at revenues of $30 million back in 2010. They are venture funded with $152 million from investors including Shasta Ventures, Emergence Capital Partners, Benchmark, DAG Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and SAP Ventures. Their last round of funding was held in September last year when they raised $50 million from unnamed investors in a pre-IPO mezzanine financing. They are yet to disclose their plans of an IPO.