Pantheon Raises $21.5M Series B

This week, Pantheon closed $21.5M in Series B financing led by Rory O’Driscoll at Scale Venture Partners with participation from Dev Ittycheria at OpenView Venture Partners and our existing investors Foundry Group and First Round Capital. This is a big, humbling bet on us.

The funds will primarily be invested in our technology. We have accomplished so much with a comparatively small team, but have only scratched the surface of what we believe is possible for our Website Platform.

This milestone comes thanks to an enormous amount of work by Team Pantheon, as well as the incredible support of all of our customers, developers, and partners. Thank you all. We’d be just a blip on the unforgiving startup trail if it weren’t for you.

Read below for the backstory.

Why Raise a Series B?

Pantheon launched in March 2012. Since then, we’ve grown from a tiny team with an early product and a handful of passionate developers and customers into a very real business on a growth trajectory with few peers. Our platform now runs 65,000 Drupal and WordPress websites serving billions of monthly page-views. We are making measurable progress toward our goal of powering 30% of the web.

Our Mission at Pantheon is an ambitious, long-term undertaking. My co-founders and I have long experience bootstrapping companies (Mission BicycleChapter Three and Four Kitchens), but we’ve known since the beginning that the venture financing path is the correct one for Pantheon. There would simply be no chance of achieving our goals without the backing of top tier venture investors.

Choosing a Firm

We were fortunate enough to have our pick of firms to work with. It was an honestly tough decision for us, we were choosing between excellent firms. We considered deeply what it was exactly that we were looking for in a venture partner.

Here is how we evaluated firms:

  1. Team Fit: Above all, we wanted someone willing to roll up their sleeves and sit at the table like anyone else on our team. Investors bring money, but partners treat you like a peer. We knew we would be with this person tackling hard problems for years to come. We simply asked ourselves “Is this who we most want in the board room?”

  2. Domain Expertise: We looked for grizzled veterans who had lived through the experience of taking a company from a small team and product to a massive platform in a few short years (and had the battle scars to prove it). We assigned bonus points for anyone with relevant experience with Marketing SaaS.

  3. Work Ethic: Entitlement is our biggest turn-off: nothing in the software industry is a given. We discount flashiness, hard. We love (yes, I said love) our Series A partners Foundry Group because they don’t BS us, they work hard, and they deliver the goods. Real partners show up and put in the work.

Rory O’Driscoll, our partner at ScaleVP

Rory came to the United States with $200 in his pocket, and took a job as a bookkeeper in a graveyard. After getting a job at Bank of America, he transferred to its Venture group as an Associate, then worked his way up to Partner. From there, he spun off the fund that became Scale Venture Partners.

Rory is an investor in Box, Chef, DataSift, Docusign, Axcient, and He was also an early investor in ExactTarget (Acq: Salesforce) and Omniture (Acq: Adobe), two of this decade’s biggest marketing software companies.

Rory is known as one of the most brilliant, helpful, and indefatigable venture investors around. Rory is our grizzled veteran.

Read Rory's blog post on 'Why Pantheon?'

Dev Ittycheria, our partner at OpenView

Prior to being an investor, Dev was co-founder and CEO of BladeLogic, one of the fastest growing enterprise software companies of the last decade. He took BladeLogic from zero to public in 2007, and then sold it to BMC in 2008 for approximately $900 million. Dev went on to run BMC Software, a $1.4B operation with 4,000 employees.

I first read about Dev from Ben Horowitz’s excellent book The Hard Thing about Hard Things, which has quickly become the de-facto management manual for venture backed startups. Ben (now a co-founder and Partner of Andreessen Horowitz) is famous for the remarkable job he did as the former co-founder and CEO of Opsware from 1999 - 2007. BladeLogic was Ben’s primary competition at Opsware, and the company shows up frequently in the book:

When I was CEO of Opsware, our toughest competitor, BladeLogic, started to constantly beat us on large deals... We are getting our ass kicked by BladeLogic.

You couldn’t write a better endorsement of Dev, he has proven himself as one of the most seasoned and accomplished technology startup leaders around. Dev is our operator.

Building a Website Platform

The last time ScaleVP and OpenView invested together it was in an up-and-coming Marketing SaaS startup in Indianapolis called ExactTarget. ET went on to become the default platform for enterprise email, transforming a fractured software sector full of broken email products into a rational market of easy to use dependable services. ET made email work for business. They took the company public and were later purchased by Salesforce for $2.5B.

Rory and Dev are as serious as we are about transforming the website industry. They see the same future we do, where websites are as easy and reliable to build, launch, and run as SaaS-powered marketing tools such as Twitter, Google Analytics, and ExactTarget. They are exactly the kind of partners we want on board for our long journey ahead.