Salesforce is doubling its pockets’ size, for its second impact fund, to support start-up companies that solve problems in education, workforce training, and climate science. It has created economic opportunities for minority and underrepresented populations.
Salesforce, the publicly traded technology company, announced a new $100 million Impact Fund within its Salesforce Ventures investment arm. The funds are not coming from any outside sources; it is from Salesforce’s operating capital.
Claudine Emeott, the Senior Director of Impacting Investing at Salesforce, said, “In the midst of concurrent crises—a global pandemic, economic fallout, and systemic racism and injustice—there’s never been a more important time to seek and support solutions that create new opportunities.”
However, there are specific parameters to the investment strategy. The most important one is that prospective funding recipients should be able to show how their tools and services align with Salesforce’s existing product offerings.
In education, Salesforce has been offered a version of its flagship customer relationship management (CRM) system for K-12 and higher-ed institutions. It also has Trailhead, which is Salesforce’s online platform for employee training.
Recently, Salesforce released Work.com, a suite of data services, including wellness checkers, contact-tracing tools, and communication, to help school and college leaders inform their physical reopening plans.
The company’s priority is to get kids back to school safely. That was the main focus of Salesforce when it recently awarded a $20 million grant to the primary school districts in San Francisco, Indianapolis, Chicago, New York City, and Oakland, Calif.
Emeott has also offered AdmitHub, which sells colleges an AI-powered chatbot technology to keep in touch with students. She said, “We both shared a large number of customers, and we knew there was a natural tie-in with our CRM. After investing in them, they dedicated resources to build product integration.”
AmitHub, launched in 2017 with $50 million, is one of seven education and workforce-development startups that Salesforce supported from its first impact fund. Also, several other companies like Andela, FutureFuel, Guild Education, and Securly Inc. have altogether served over three million students.
Salesforce is also looking for startups that are raising Series A, B, and C rounds. Emeott has declined to estimate how many companies Salesforce is looking to support to make from this new fund, only saying that it will not lead any deals.
Other challenges that Salesforce is currently facing in the spear of education include the digital divide, referring to the inequitable access to technology and educational services, especially in low-income communities. Also, helping unemployed workers acquire new skills to fill new jobs is another challenge that Salesforce faces.
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