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Optimizely Raises $57 Million to Stamp Out Hippos and Turn Data Into Action

Andreessen Horowitz leads a round for the company that wants to bring A/B testing to websites and the world.


Optimizely helps people test different versions of websites without much technical know-how. The company’s goal is to optimize and personalize every connected experience — on wearable computers, in retail stores and elsewhere.

How’s it doing so far? Pretty well, especially according to the venture capitalists who have just given the company a $57 million Series B round.

In terms of milestones, Optimizely has about 7,000 customers, including 5 percent of the top 10,000 websites and Starbucks, Salesforce and MTV. It has optimized 7 billion Web experiences and created more than 500,000 experiments.

Basically, Optimizely allows people involved with websites — often those in departments like marketing instead of software development — to create experiments to compare various ideas, so they can opt for the one that works better, or the one that is more likely to work better for a particular kind of visitor. Two weeks ago the company expanded these A/B testing tools from the Web to iOS apps.

“We’re seeing a market shift from being very hippo-based to a data-driven meritocracy,” said CEO Dan Siroker.

By hippo, Siroker doesn’t mean one of the adorable and aggressive semiaquatic mammals. In data-driven management guru speak, “hippo” means “highest-paid person’s opinion.” (Who knew? I didn’t.)

Here’s a cleaner but less colorful way to say it, perhaps: “Our vision is to enable the world to turn data into action,” said Siroker.

This new round of funding for Optimizely expansion comes from Andreessen Horowitz, along with Benchmark and Bain Capital Ventures. Optimizely, which launched in 2010 inspired by testing tools that Siroker had worked on at Google and on Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, has now raised a total of $88 million. It has 175 employees and is based in San Francisco.

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