When Salesforce Ventures launched the first $50 million Impact Fund in 2017, it wanted to invest not only in promising cloud businesses, but startups with a socially positive mission. Today, the company launched the second Impact Fund, this time doubling its initial investment with a new $100 million fund.
The latest fund is also designed to help bring more investment into areas that the company feels need to be emphasized as a corporate citizen beyond pure business goals, including education and reskilling, climate action, diversity, equity and inclusion, and providing tech for nonprofits and foundations.
Suzanne DiBianca, chief impact officer and EVP of Corporate Relations at Salesforce, says the money is being put to work on some of the world's most pressing social issues. "Now more than ever, we believe business can be a powerful platform for change. We must leverage technology and invest in innovative ideas to drive the long-term health and wellness of all citizens, enable equal access to education and fuel impactful climate action," DiBianca said in a statement.
Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials, says that this investment is consistent with their commitment to social issues. "This fits right in with Salesforce's efforts on making business a force for change. They talk it, they walk it and they invest in it," Leary told TechCrunch.
Claudine Emeott, director of Impact Investing, said in a Q&A on the company website that as with the first fund, the company is looking for cloud companies with some ties to Salesforce that address these core social components and can have a positive impact on the world. While there is a social aspect to each company, it still follows a particular investment thesis related to cloud computing. Her goal is to have a portfolio of cloud startups by next year that are addressing the set of social needs the firm has laid out.
"I hope that [by next year] we have made numerous investments in companies that are addressing today’s concurrent crises, and I hope that we can point to their measurable impact on those crises. I hope that we can point to exciting new integrations between our portfolio companies and Salesforce to tackle these challenges together," Emeott said.
Paul Greenberg, president of the 56 Group and author of "CRM at the Speed of Light," says that while he doesn't always agree with Salesforce on every matter, he admires their social bent. "As an analyst, I might battle with them on some of their products, the things they do in the market and their messaging, but as a human being, I applaud them for their deep commitment to the common good," he said.
Salesforce has always had a social component to its corporate goals, including its 1-1-1 philanthropy model. While Salesforce isn't always completely consistent, as with its contract with ICE, it does put money and personnel toward helping in the communities where it operates, encouraging volunteerism and charitable giving from the top down and modeled across the organization.
This investment fund, while looking at the investments through a distinctly Salesforce lens, is designed to fund startups to help solve intractable social problems, while using its extensive financial resources for the betterment of the world.