PremjiInvest, the family investment arm of Wipro Ltd chairman Azim Premji, has spread its bets on Silicon Valley startups, leading a new investment in artificial intelligence unicorn Apttus.
Apttus, a quote-to-cash vendor built on the platform of American cloud computing company Salesforce, has raised $55 million (Rs 352 crore) in a Series E round, the company said in a statement. Existing investors Salesforce Ventures, the venture arm of Salesforce, K1, and Iconiq also participated in the round, it added.
This is Premjiinvest’s first deal in a Silicon Valley-based firm in more than a year while it has been actively investing in the domestic market.
“PremjiInvest is always highly selective in its investments, working with the strongest management teams and the most promising companies,” said Sandesh Patnam, partner and lead investor in the US for PremjiInvest. “In Apttus, we have found a team and market opportunity that fits that description perfectly, and we look forward to working with them to help realise the full potential of the platform,” he added.
In January 2016, PremjiInvest led a $90 million (around Rs 607 crore) Series E funding round in US-based Anaplan Inc, which runs a suite of cloud-based financial planning apps for enterprises.
In 2015, it struck at least three deals in Silicon Valley-based firms in California ServiceMax Inc, which provides cloud-based field service management solutions; Cyanogen Inc, a mobile operating system (OS) developer which customises Google’s Android OS for its clients; and California-based Zuora Inc, which runs a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based subscription billing and financial solutions venture.
PremjiInvest has a corpus of over $1 billion through its two funds—PI Opportunities I and PI Opportunities II. The firm also received approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India for a long-only PIPE fund called Pioneer Investment Fund, as per disclosures. PIPE refers to private investment in public equity.
The investment firm is focused on investing in consumer, financial services, healthcare, IT, automobile, education, and hospitality sectors.
Its notable investments in the private sector include apparel retailer FabIndia, financial services firm Equitas Holdings, which went public last year, and the National Stock Exchange.
Wipro’s rival Infosys also runs an investment firm Infosys Innovation Fund, which invests in startups outside India. The fund’s foreign bets include UNSILO, a Danish artificial intelligence startup focused on advanced text analysis, and US-based big data startup TidalScale.
The Infosys fund, however, has not made fresh bets this year. Yusuf Bashir, who had been leading the $500-million startup fund for a little over two years, has put in his papers, The Economic Times reported in July.
The company, founded in 2006, had raised its first investment in late 2012. Its total funding till now is $329 million.
Apttus’ artificial intelligence agent, Max, uses a conversational interface to simplify enterprise applications, including quote-to-cash and customer relationship management, and can be extended to any business application.
The latest funding “will allow our ongoing advancement of an industry we helped create over a decade ago,” said Kirk Krappe, chairman and chief executive of Apttus.
The company also said that the amount raised is subject to change, as the round remains open to additional investments for a short period of time. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC served as placement agent for the transaction.
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