On Tuesday morning, Jellyvision announced that it has raised a $20 million funding round from Updata. The Chicago tech staple, which provides employee communications solutions to enterprise clients, said it will use the funding to reward longtime employees and investors while fueling its continued growth in the HR SaaS space.
“Jellyvision is a 100-year-old tech company, give or take 85 years, and we are often recognized for our culture and insanely great people,” said CEO Amanda Lannert in a statement. “But our people also make insanely great software that’s been selling like gang busters for years. Funding from a top SaaS-focused growth equity firm like Updata validates our strengths as an innovative and fast-growing employee communication SaaS company. We are excited to partner with them and are looking forward to having serious fun with them, too.”
Founded as a video game company in 1989, Jellyvision is known for creating the “You Don’t Know Jack” trivia game franchise. The company then pivoted to become a digital agency before launching its current SaaS product, ALEX, in 2009.
By drawing on behavioral science and the signature sense of humor that brought the company’s video games such popularity in the 90s, Jellyvision’s ALEX platform gives employees guidance through complicated processes like choosing between health insurance plans, saving for retirement and managing their finances.
The company is also in the process of launching a series of new features, including a new solution for employees preparing for leaves of absence.
“It’s no secret that the road to success for Jellyvision has been full of twists and turns as we have navigated our way through several different business models,” continued Lannert’s statement. “After a long and winding history, we are thrilled to reward longstanding investors and employees, while keeping focus on independent growth and expansion. We have ambitious plans mapped out through 2020, and now, along with Updata, we’re working hard to execute them.”
By all accounts, the pivot has been paying off. ALEX is currently in use by more than 800 enterprise clients, including 88 of the Fortune 500. Jellyvision has also grown its team to around 330 employees. Lannert said she expects that team to grow to 400 by July, and that she wouldn't be surprised if that number reaches 600 by 2019.
"It's been kind of a snowball effect, where you feel every twist and turn but you don't realize how big you're getting until you take a moment and look back," said Lannert. "We finally found product-market fit after going sideways for the better part of a decade."
Lannert said Jellyvision expects continue its organic growth trajectory, and that the funding will allow the company to provide liquidity to longtime employees and investors while doing so.
In choosing an investor, Lannert said she was looking for someone who knew their industry and could offer guidance as the company grows.
“Pivoting from consumer games to B2B SaaS would be hard enough, but to do so without burning a bunch of capital is incredible,” said Updata general partner Carter Griffin in a statement. “Our investment is an endorsement that the company’s three-phase evolution from in-your-face trivia games to interactive digital agency to SaaS vendor is complete. And beyond technology, Jellyvision’s unique and special culture is something we view as a competitive advantage.”
Image via Built In Chicago.