ON24 Inc., an 18-year-old software company that survived the dot-com bust and is lately seeing growth again after several strategic shifts. In its latest iteration, ON24 is providing a software platform for companies to produce marketing webinars, which they can promote through social channels and combine with data analytics to identify prospective buyers. The company now serves more than 1,500 customers and is adding about 175 customers each quarter, according to co-founder and Chief Executive Sharat Sharan. “All of us do research when we buy a car…and we’ve started to see the same trend emerge in business-to-business sales” where people are downloading information, asking questions and answering online polls, Mr. Sharan said. ON24 is competing against Cisco Systems Inc.’s WebEx platform, he said. ON24 started in 1998 as an online financial news service for retail investors and then pivoted to become an online webcaster and later a provider of webcasts and virtual events. The virtual events business was based on an acquisition that ON24made in Spain in 2012, but that business didn’t work out, Mr. Sharan said, so about 18 months ago ON24 sold the company, called Imaste-ips, back to the founders. “Virtual events were supposed to be the next thing since sliced bread for marketers but it never became that,” he said. Also, he said, there weren’t enough people for ON24 to hire in Madrid, and the London employees got tired of flying back and forth. Dot-com survivors are still raising the occasional round of venture capital. Around 20 such companies have raised new rounds in each of the past five quarters, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource. This latest round is the largest ON24 has ever raised. Mr. Sharan has bootstrapped the company for the last 10 or 12 years. “It’s an exciting time for the company [and] we will hold tight to what we do. Nobody knows how long [the current downturn] will last,” he said. The new round comes from Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing group and is considered a Series B. Goldman Sachs also has a seat on ON24’s board.]]>
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