Visible Path Raises $2 Million, Readies Release

The enterprise social networking startup increases its funding as it gets ready to launch its software publicly in July.

Social networking startup Visible Path Corp. is enriching its financial war chest as it nears the launch of its enterprise software aimed at improving business connections.

The New York company has received an additional $2 million in Series A funding from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, bringing the total investment from the venerable venture capital firm to $5.7 million, co-founder and CEO Antony Brydon told this week. Visible Path closed its first round in February.

The funding comes as the company prepares to generally release the first version of its Relationship Capital Management (RCM) software platform on July 1, Brydon said. Visible Path has been deploying the platform with a group of prerelease customers since October.

Visible Path is one of a growing number of companies focusing on enterprise social networking technology. Others include Spoke Software Inc. and Interface Software Inc.

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With the full launch, Visible Path is focusing the RCM platform on sales and marketing groups within enterprises. The software, after scanning enterprise and desktop applications, can apply statistical methods to create a map of an organizations relationships. It deciphers the connections among employees and to outside contacts and weighs the strength of relationships.

"We found the most resonance not in any given industry but in a business process—selling," Brydon said.

Knowing the network of connections surrounding a prospect or customer can help reduce the cost of generating sales leads and improve the number of qualified leads, Brydon said.

While the Visible Path RCM software has a client front end, the company is focusing on integrating its map of connections into existing sales and marketing applications such as CRM (customer relationship management), SFA (sales force automation) and business intelligence systems. It provides Web services API for integration and plans to have integration ready for such applications as Inc.s hosted CRM service, Brydon said.

"Were focused on extending the existing applications that sales and marketing uses," Brydon said. "Theres limited space on the desktop and in the applications people use."

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Privacy issues have become a common concern with social networking services and sites. Users worry that their web of connections will become exposed publicly or too broadly to co-workers and supervisors.

Visible Path has addressed privacy by requiring users to opt in before their personal contacts are included in the mapping and by shielding the identities of the intermediaries in a path of connections until the intermediary has agreed to make an introduction, Brydon said.

But in the beta testing, Visible Path also heard from a small subset of users who wanted to share their maps of connections with others in their core work group, said Lynda Radosevich, the companys vice president of communications. So in the general release, Visible Path plans to offer an option for creating a "trusted list" of users who can share contacts.

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