3VR lands $12m more funding, new board member

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO—Search-based surveillance manufacturer 3VR announced this week a fourth round of funding, a $12 million infusion led by Menlo Ventures. Menlo managing director Sonja Hoel Perkins will join the 3VR board of directors.

Al Shipp, 3VR CEO, said the money will fuel what has already been strong growth for 2009, but just as important is adding another investor to increase “board strength and add another perspective.”

“My philosophy,” said Shipp, who joined 3VR in January, “has always been that two smart people is more smart than one smart person, and the more smart people you can get in the room, the better. Sonja is an incredibly smart business person to add to the board.”

The ability for venture types like Perkins to look at all of their portfolio companies and notice broad trends is invaluable, Shipp said. Further, Menlo has had other security investments, including chipmaker Stretch, storage maker Intransa, and Bioscrypt before it was purchased by L-1, so it has experience in security specifically.

But how, in this market, do you convince anyone to give you $12 million, especially when you’ve raised $15 million as recently as 2006? “Going in our favor was an excellent story around our technology,” Shipp said, “and having some very significant customers, who were using the technology and getting real business value out of that. And the best evidence is whether we’re delivering on our plan or not, and we’ve been meeting our plan all year. And we were very aggressive, to almost double the company this year, and we’re well ahead of that. So, if you put that all together, it seems like you’re onto something.”

Despite a terrible overall global economy, Shipp said Q2 of 2009 “doubled any other quarter we’ve ever had,” and he said that wasn’t due to any one big sale. “It was a handful of sales,” he said. “Some of our traditional customers bought more, we brought on some key new customers, and we’re seeing very improved traction with the channel. Our integrator partners [Diebold is among them] are articulating our value proposition very well.”

That value, he said, is often realized through a minimized investigations team, due to the ease with which 3VR allows video retrieval, and through using the video for more than just security. “One retailer integrated us with the POS system, to link video with sales events, but we also were able to replace a system where they were paying money to count people walking into the store,” Shipp said. “They realized they could replace that, and that almost justified the whole cost of 3VR, they just had to take the marketing people into it.”