Movable Ink goes big on "live" email marketing with $11 million Series B

By Erin Griffith , written on May 8, 2013

From The News Desk

If you'd asked Vivek Sharma last year about the the future of his email marketing startup, Movable Ink, he'd have said the company was likely on track to sell itself to one of the larger companies in its market -- Constant Contact, VerticalResponse, MailChimp, etc. But the last few months have changed his mind.

Since hiring his first sales people late last year, the company's sales have continued to climb, adding 60 large enterprise clients in 2012 and growing bookings by 100 percent for the last five consecutive quarters. The company opened satellite offices in Europe and on the West Coast. Sharma noticed email industry leaders talking about the idea of a "live" email at conferences, which his company basically pioneered, he says. And his plans for the company are to build something bigger than an acquisition target.

That's why he raised $11 million in a Series B round of funding led by Intel Capital. Previously the company raised $2.8 million in funding; participating existing investors included Contour Venture Partners, Metamorphic Ventures, ff Venture Capital, Kima Ventures, Joshua Baer, Bob Pittman, Andy Russell, Alan Laifer and Tom Chiu. Thanks to Movable Ink's popular "agile marketing" products, Sharma believes the company has a future as a large independent company.

Movable Ink is on the path to profitability, he says, but it would take much longer without the infusion of capital. With 119 brands on board, they're turning clients away because they can't support the all. Sharma plans to staff up to a team of 60 by the end of the year (he's at 24 now). "We had been playing defense just to catch up," he says.

Movable Ink's tools pull live content into emails, including social data such as how many of your friends have opened the same offer, and widgets to detect things like local weather and instant open rates on subject lines.

But what about the death of email? Teens don't email -- at all -- and with as many communication methods and apps as we have available to us, the popular notion is that email is on its way out. Even as it remains the most effective form of marketing, it is also the most hated and an eternal source of macro-angst.

Sharma's thought is this: Email as an HTTP protocol will always be around, whatever form it takes. Gmail may not always look the same. We might not always use Mailbox. But email will always be the connective tissue for communicating, he says. And even if email does go away in its current form, it'll be awhile. As I wrote in January:

Catalogs and flyers still dominated the social networks this holiday season, for example, influencing 22 percent of online purchases and 21 percent of offline purchases, a Baynote study reports. Facebook only influenced 15 percent of online purchases and 12 percent of offline purchases with Twitter and Pinterest coming in even lower.
As a category, email marketing is growing by 20 percent. It's more effective than all other forms of digital direct marketing, including intent-driven search. Movable Ink's products might not help us get to inbox zero faster. But, done right, they just might make the inbox slog a little more enjoyable.