StarLeaf raises $40 million to accelerate worldwide growth in video conferencing market
StarLeaf, the world’s leading cloud based platform for enterprise video conferencing and calling services, has raised $40 million in funding from Highland Europe, Grafton Capital and the founders, marking the first time the Cambridge-founded company has taken outside investment.
StarLeaf will use the injection of new funds to support its accelerating growth, as an increasing number of end customers, distribution partners and endpoint manufacturers recognize the unparalleled capabilities of its OpenCloud platform. StarLeaf and its global network of channel partners currently sell into 50 countries worldwide, with a rapidly growing enterprise client base in Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. StarLeaf will also be investing in its Asia Pacific business to capitalize on this rapidly growing region.
StarLeaf’s unique architecture enables its clients to deliver enterprise-wide video connectivity, avoiding the limitations of virtual-meeting-room based solutions. StarLeaf’s platform enables capabilities, seamlessly from the cloud, that have otherwise been the reserve of those investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive on-premise video infrastructure. With large enterprises around the world wanting to protect historic investments in sophisticated meeting rooms, StarLeaf’s ability to interoperate with every third-party technology on the market ensures that its clients can adopt the latest cloud technology with maximal capital efficiency and user experience. StarLeaf’s industry leading engineering team has ensured that no matter what the endpoint, whether it be Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize, StarLeaf or others in the meeting room; or Skype for Business, StarLeaf Breeze or others on the desktop; and no matter what the video conferencing service they are dialing in to for a scheduled meeting, be it BlueJeans, Zoom or StarLeaf’s own; or what the endpoint they are calling on an ad hoc basis, a video call via the StarLeaf cloud “just works”.
The company was founded in Cambridge, United Kingdom in 2008 by three veteran telecoms and video conferencing entrepreneurs and Cambridge graduates: William MacDonald, Chief Technology Officer, Mark Loney, Chief Executive Officer and Mark Richer, Executive Chairman. This is the fourth networking technology company that the trio have built, having worked together at Madge Networks (Local Area Networking, floated on NASDAQ in 1993); Calista, (VOIP interoperability, sold to Cisco in 1999 for $55m) and Codian (on-premise video bridging with interoperability, sold to Tandberg in 2007 for $270m).
After four years of founder funded R&D, StarLeaf began selling cloud services to clients in early 2013. The last two years have seen particularly rapid growth, especially in the enterprise segment, where StarLeaf signed up 150 new clients with 1,000 employees or more in 2016, vs 65 in 2015. Usage of the StarLeaf platform is doubling year over year, with two thirds of its 100m+ annual call minutes being ad hoc point-to-point video calls between users, rather than scheduled meetings. The number of employees employed by the company has doubled in the last 18 months to 130, and is set to double again in the 18 months ahead.
StarLeaf’s chief executive officer, Mark Loney, said: “Enterprises are shifting towards video as it is a much better means of communication than a voice call or conference. However, businesses often have a variety of legacy systems making it difficult to connect with customers and suppliers who may have different systems. Our cloud service solves these issues, while taking away the pain of running your own back-end systems. This new funding will take us through our investment phase and give us the working capital we need to reach our potential in markets around the world.”
Laurence Garrett, partner at Highland Europe, who will become a non-executive director of StarLeaf said: “I am so thrilled to be investing in StarLeaf today as I have followed Mark Richer and the team for 12 years and have been a StarLeaf customer since 2013. StarLeaf has built its solution from the ground up which gives it a real advantage in ease of use and quality. It offers real interoperability between different vendors which is unique in this market place and is delivering really high quality calls and a brilliant level of service.”
Oliver Thomas, partner and co-founder at Grafton Capital, who will also become a non-executive director of StarLeaf said: “After many years pursuing the opportunity to work together, it is a privilege to be investing alongside these excellent people and world class technologists. StarLeaf is improving the quality of business communications around the world and we are proud to be supporting its expansion.”
StarLeaf has developed the capability to be a backbone to the unified communications industry. It has architected its platform to deliver its partners and customers with seamless interoperability between all systems and call types, including Microsoft’s increasingly prevalent Skype for Business and corporate and public telephony networks. Since inception it has focused on the needs of the business communications market, prioritizing ease of use for customers; high quality of calls and service; and enterprise quality network monitoring and call control. StarLeaf serves over 1,000 business customers including Travelex, Bose, and Dr. Martens, the bootmaker.
The company is headquartered in Watford, United Kingdom with research and development centers in Watford and Cambridge and sales and marketing offices around the world.