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Welcome to Agile Content Management: Why Sapphire Ventures is Excited to Continue to Partner with Contentful

Welcome to Agile Content Management: Why Sapphire Ventures is Excited to Continue to Partner with Contentful
Investment / June 17, 2020
Written by , Andreas Weiskam

We are excited to announce today that we are leading Series E $80 million financing in Contentful. We have known Contentful for more than six years now and this is Sapphire Ventures’ second investment in the company after having led the Series D financing round in 2018. 

Investing in companies during unclear economic times can be tricky, but as a venture capital firm, we’re familiar with making investment decisions amidst uncertainty–everything is a trade-off between risk and return. Still, a global pandemic like this one is an exogenous shock that puts a big wrench into that equation. So, what gave us the confidence to once again invest in Contentful? The short answer is, Contentful has grown substantially, as has market demand, since our initial investment.

5 reasons why we’re excited about Contentful

Agile content management is now mainstream

Since pioneering headless CMS six years ago, Contentful has been transforming how companies manage and deploy content across channels. Early on, Contentful’s API-first solution targeted developers who became early adopters. As the company built a strong following among developers over the years, creative, marketing and c-level stakeholders became aware of the advantages of a modular and flexible content architecture. 

Today, digital is quickly becoming the premier channel for every business. And while the web is foundational, the proliferation of mobile, social, voice, virtual and augmented reality require a cross-channel approach to content. Executing a cross-channel content strategy requires a modern and agile content management platform like Contentful. Traditional CMS suites are page centric, built for websites, have a monolithic core and are architected for single servers, which is why more enterprises and digital natives prefer to assemble a modern tech stack out of best-in-class components, over an integrated CMS suite.

Contentful has evolved into a platform of services

Contentful makes it easy to manage and deploy content across channels.

Within the Contentful solution, content is organized flexibly in modular pieces making it adaptable, channel independent and reusable. The cloud native architecture enables decoupled and scalable management of content delivery, and the API-first approach enables strong integrations with third parties. 

Building on the extensibility of its platform, Contentful released the App Framework earlier this year, which enables programmatic scaling of digital experience services such as optimization, analytics, collaboration and translation. This provides more agility and flexibility for teams, while enhancing the robustness of content operations governance. These characteristics make Contentful future-friendly and an integral part of the next-generation Digital Experience Platform (DXP) stack.

The company built the largest partner network in the industry

Contentful’s growing ecosystem consists of 300 partners, including solutions partners, technology partners and top global agencies. Digital agencies and system integrators such as Accenture, Publicis, Huge, Valtech and AKQA are leveraging Contentful to help customers build unique and consistent digital brand experiences across devices and channels.

Steve Sloan came on board as the new CEO

About a year ago, Contentful’s co-Founder Sascha Konietzke made the decision to move away from his CEO position into a more strategic one as Chief Strategy Officer. Following a very careful and intentional search, the company brought on Steve Sloan to lead Contentful as CEO. Steve was a fantastic fit right away. He connected with Sascha and co-Founder Paolo Negri instantaneously, and for the last several months has been focused on expanding upon their original vision.

A leadership change is never easy, always risky and not something boards take lightly. Eight months into Steve’s new role, and I don’t think any of us could have wished the transition to have gone any better. Steve has impressed me in a big way–not only with his insights and sensibility during the process of winning over the teams in Berlin and San Francisco, but also with the great leadership he has shown in this time of crisis. 

A number of seasoned executives joined Contentful

Since our Series D investment in Contentful, the company has hired eight senior leaders, including Steve. We are impressed by the exceptional talent these individuals bring to the table, and by how they have naturally come together as a team.

While the business impact of the pandemic is uncertain, I think it will create opportunities for some companies, particularly those that embrace digital-first strategies, to become stronger and outperform their competition. We believe Contentful is one of those companies–a company we believe to be of consequence. 

The way I see it, Contentful has all of the necessary ingredients to be successful: an agile and differentiated platform, a large developer network, robust ecosystem of partners and a world-class team. This, coupled with the tailwinds for digital that has been more recently amplified by the crisis, makes us optimists for the long term and the future of Contentful.


Disclaimer: Nothing presented within this article is intended to constitute investment advice, and under no circumstances should any information provided herein be used or considered as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any investment fund managed by Sapphire Ventures. Information provided reflects Sapphire Ventures’ views as of a time, whereby such views are subject to change at any point and Sapphire Ventures shall not be obligated to provide notice of any change. Companies mentioned in this article are a representative sample of portfolio companies in which Sapphire Ventures has invested in which the author believes such companies fit the objective criteria stated in commentary, which do not reflect all investments made by Sapphire. A complete alphabetical list of Sapphire’s investments made by its direct growth investing funds is available here. No assumptions should be made that investments listed above were or will be profitable. Due to various risks and uncertainties, actual events, results or the actual experience may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in these statements. Nothing contained in this article may be relied upon as a guarantee or assurance as to the future success of any particular company. Past performance is not indicative of future results.