Salesforce Launches New $100 Million Education Investment Fund

Contributing Writer

Further deepening its involvement in education, Salesforce this week announced the launch of a second fund by its venture capital arm, which will pour $100 million into a variety of areas, including education.

“With every investment, we’re looking for both demonstrable impact as well as strategic integration opportunities with Salesforce,” said Claudine Emeott, Salesforce’s senior director of impact investing, in an interview. “To date, we’ve invested in more than 25 companies and are really excited to be building on the initial progress of Fund I.”

Salesforce Ventures is looking to invest $100 million in companies that emphasize workforce development, access to clean energy, and promotion of economic empowerment for underrepresented groups, as well as companies that provide efficient technology for the “social sector,” including nonprofits, foundations, and governments, according to a press release.

While education represents just one portion of the companies that Salesforce Ventures invests in, Emeott highlighted the firm’s investment in Guild Education, a female-founded company that provides workforce education programs.

Emeott declined to say whether Salesforce will use any of its Fund II money to invest in the company, but noted that Salesforce could repeat invest in certain companies already financed through Fund I.

The pandemic has forced a rapid digital transformation in K-12 education, the likes of which no one has seen in the past, she noted. And Salesforce hopes to invest in companies addressing challenges brought on by the pandemic. It has recently made several splashes in the education sphere.

In August, the company launched a K-12 contact tracing and wellness data service and made large investments in the San Francisco, Oakland, Indianapolis, Chicago, and New York City school districts, following previous investments in those districts, including one in January.

Salesforce in August said it had invested a total of $118 million in education at that point.

Salesforce Ventures is currently considering investments in five or six companies out of its second venture fund, but will probably ultimately finance more than 20 companies total out of the fund, according to Emeott.

Salesforce Ventures typically cuts its first checks to companies between the Series A and Series C investment stages, she said.

Investors check in with portfolio companies quarterly to vet progress on financial, social impact-related, and strategic growth deliverables, Emeott said. But Salesforce also communicates periodically with companies to connect them with product and marketing partners, as well as to provide informal advice on things like pricing and succeeding in the software-as-a-service realm, she said, which is Salesforce’s main focus.

Salesforce Ventures’ first social impact fund invested in 25 companies.

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