Community, a startup that lets celebrities and marketers communicate with their fans and customers via text messages, announced an additional $40 million investment from Salesforce Ventures.
The new round of financing brings Community’s total amount raised to nearly $90 million, the company said. Previous investors in Community include Twilio, Live Nation Entertainment, Sony Innovation Fund, and Sound Ventures, headed by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, the veteran music manager whose clients include Madonna and U2. The company bills Oseary as a co-founder of Community.
Brands and individuals on Community’s platform include Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Brady, Tony Hawk, Steve Aoki, Deepak Chopra, Ashton Kutcher, Global Citizen, The Shade Room, Bobby Hundreds, WW (formerly Weight Watchers), SluttyVegan, the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Meredith’s People magazine.
Community says the text-messaging medium lets it avoid the data-privacy pitfalls of traditional social media networks, while allowing celebs and brands to connect with consumers at scale.
The additional investment from Salesforce Ventures “will provide us with the resources and opportunities to continue our purpose, while providing valuable marketing and communications avenues for our Leaders through the simplicity of text messaging, without getting lost in social algorithms, unlawful sharing of data, privacy issues, ads or short code spams,” Community CEO and cofounder Matt Peltier said in a statement.
The Santa Monica-based company originally was called Shimmur, a mobile social-media app, before it pivoted to the text-messaging model and launching the Community app in July 2019. Community’s CTO is Barry Steinglass, former senior VP of engineering at Hulu.
To date, Community has enabled more than 3 billion text messages sent among “Leaders” (people, businesses and brands with a 10-digit Community number) and their followers. The company says it has more than 26 million members.
According to Community, Oseary has been “instrumental in the company’s growth” to lure talent and brands in music and entertainment to the service. “Community has set the industry standard for text-message marketing,” Oseary said in a statement. “Matt’s vision for the platform solves a critical issue for brands, public figures, small businesses and anyone who is seeking to speak directly with their audience – knowing where they are and what’s most important to them – while respecting their data and privacy.”
Community claims that messages sent via its platform have open rates of 95% and clickthrough rates of 60%. The company says it has more than 130 employees located across the U.S. and the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.