Clearbit: The most underestimated company in San Francisco

Geoff Lewis
Mar 19, 2019 · 3 min read

In 2015, a quirky high school dropout from London quit his job as employee #20 at Stripe and set out to build a seemingly simple utility for data enrichment. The understated nature of Clearbit’s core offering — and their almost all-encompassing focus on creating products that drive real value for customers — has resulted in a rare hyper-growth technology business that’s flown largely under the radar.

One need only glance at his Twitter stream to discern that Clearbit founder Alex MacCaw is anything but understated: relentless capitalist meets Conscious Leadership evangelist, Alex unwinds at the turntable (literally, he’s a DJ) and wrote the O’Reilly book on Javascript as a teenager whilst backpacking through Central America. Yet the company Alex and the Clearbit team have painstakingly built is perhaps the most underestimated in San Francisco.

Today, Clearbit is announcing they’ve raised $15 Million in Series A financing led by our friend Ash Fontana of Zetta Ventures alongside Bedrock, with participation from Battery and Cross Creek. With over 1500 happy customers, and over 60 happy employees, Clearbit has the metrics to warrant a larger $50–100M growth round — one that many venture capital firms would have been more than happy to fund — yet their relentless focus on delivering value to customers (thereby driving revenue) has led to a flywheel that’s extraordinarily capital efficient. In a refreshing juxtaposition to mega round overcapitalization, with this financing Clearbit has raised the exact amount of capital they need to pour on the gas and become the industry standard in B2B marketing data.

Clearbit Founder & CEO Alex MacCaw

Clearbit is the only data company in the world to give insights into the whole customer lifecycle, starting with the first website visit, throughout the sales process, and then post-sale as they dynamically update and refresh records in real-time.

Elegant APIs for broad internet utilities are often underestimated in their early days. People get stuck on the specific function (In Clearbit’s case, data enrichment for B2B marketing and sales), rather than what it can be used to create: the enabling impact of the utility. On the surface Stripe was just another payment processor, but the elegance of its APIs enabled an entire generation of online retailers. On the surface Plaid was just a way to connect bank accounts, but that utility led to an explosion of creativity in FinTech. Similarly, on the surface Clearbit offers a simple utility, but what it can be used for is endless and empowers every business on earth to be truly data-driven in an instant.

Understated, but with a core business and revenue engine that has the potential to endure for one hundred years (Alex’s aim): Clearbit is precisely the type of idiosyncratic narrative violation we search for at Bedrock. We could not be more delighted to play a small role in supporting them on their ninety six year journey to come.


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