12 Nov 2020

Congratulations Pipedrive: Europe and Estonia’s Newest SaaS Unicorn!

Estonian-born Pipedrive is something of a special investment for Atomico. Many of our team experienced first-hand the outstanding talent and entrepreneurial spirit of Estonia while working at Skype, including Niklas Zennström, co-founder of both Skype and Atomico. Skype had offices in Sweden and Estonia, and the majority of the team was in Estonia. Estonian talent was absolutely fundamental to the development and success of the business. We led the company’s series B in 2017 because we knew that the Pipedrive team, and Estonia, was capable of building something big.

Pipedrive was founded in 2010 with the aim of being the first CRM platform built by salespeople for salespeople, instead of sales managers, and we loved the contrarian approach they had. At that time, the majority of small businesses were using spreadsheets and complicated manual tools to manage their sales processes. While there were numerous established CRM solutions for the enterprise market, the CRM market tailored specifically for SMEs was untapped — and huge. Pipedrive provided a simple but powerful alternative.

“A few things drew me to invest in Pipedrive. The first was their contrarian view and key insight to build a CRM system for salespeople instead of for sales managers. That focus on users helped them build the most user-friendly CRM in the market. Second, they were building a global service from day one. There were so many similarities to the approach we had taken at Skype,” says Niklas Zennström. “Another key fact that made me pay attention was when Timo told me about his background as a sales person. I knew I had in front of me a founder who had experienced firsthand the problem he needed to solve. If he had been a sales manager instead of a sales person, he probably wouldn’t have had that key insight that has helped differentiate Pipedrive around the world.”

“I knew of Pipedrive when Skypers started leaving for the company and had kept an eye out for them,” says Atomico Talent Partner Dan Hynes, who was Director of Global Staffing at Skype. “Engineering lead Tiit, CTO Sergei, HR manager Leelia and Talent Officer Oksana were highly regarded at Skype. We knew they could attract great talent but I was surprised at how fast the team had grown.

“When we first started speaking with them, I was quick to jump in and ask if I could help the team. We flew to Tallinn — still one of my favourite places and obviously the home of the Valli bar and the super nutritious Millimallikas drink — to meet the team. They had bags of energy and intense focus. It really was like going back to the earlier days of Skype.”

Pipedrive found popularity through integrations with applications such as Google Apps, MailChimp and Trello, and has since built out the product. Now, Pipedrive’s CRM platform uses artificial intelligence and automation to help sales teams manage leads and deals efficiently, track customer and prospect communications and ultimately, drive more revenue for their business.

“I first visited Pipedrive’s HQ in Tallinn in early 2017, and was given a personal tour by CTO co-founder Martin Henk. Despite the chilly weather, I was struck by how humble this team was. It became very clear to me very quickly that this was a team that was heads down, and were driven by the excitement that comes from building and shipping product — a quality that would later see them becoming one of the few European companies to make the annual Forbes Cloud100 list,” says Atomico Communications Partner Bryce Keane. “Perhaps one of my favourite memories, however, was organising to have Timo on stage with Niklas at the Helsinki Business Forum just before Niklas interviewed President Obama in 2018. It was a special moment for everyone, made even better by having Timo up there and backstage with us”.

When we invested in 2017, the company already had its sights set on global market dominance, and had offices in Tallinn and New York — now it has offices across Europe and the U.S. and is used by over 95,000 sales teams around the world. Since our first investment, we’ve been able to work closely with Founders Timo and Martin and more recently Raj the CEO helping them across Talent, Product Growth, and Communications, and with expansion in Brazil and Japan.

As Vista Equity Partners makes a majority investment in the company today, we’re excited to double down and continue with other existing investors on the Pipedrive journey. Today’s investment is a strong re-affirmation — from one of the world’s leading SaaS PE firms — of the mission started by Timo, Urmas, Ragnar, Martin Henk and Martin Tajur to make sales people successful around the world. We believe the company is now well and truly on track to become Europe’s next global SaaS success story.


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