What's Salesforce Up To With Its New Impact Investment Fund?

photo:  NYCStock/shutterstock

photo:  NYCStock/shutterstock

When Marc Benioff created Salesforce, he put corporate giving near the top of the company’s priority list by embracing a new 1-1-1 model of philanthropy. The 1-1-1 model—which has now spread widely through the tech world through the Pledge 1% campaign—calls for companies to dedicate 1 percent of equity, 1 percent of product, and 1 percent of the employee time to doing good.  

Salesforce's philanthropic commitment has evolved over the years to include a big commitment to local schools in the Bay Areas and also programs like its Force for Change grants that largely focus on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 and 8. These goals call for inclusive, equitable, and quality education for everyone, and the promotion of long-term, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth, respectively. (But take note: Salesforce says that it's now re-evaluating this program.)

Last month, Salesforce again expanded its philanthropic brand when it unveiled a new $50 million impact investment fund.

    The Salesforce Impact Fund from the company’s corporate investment group, Salesforce Ventures aims to “accelerate the growth of companies using Salesforce technology to address challenges across workforce development, equality, sustainability and the social sector.” The fund isn’t wasting any time getting its program off the ground as it has already announced its inaugural investments. 

    Angaza, a social enterprise based in San Francisco, California and Nairobi, Kenya raised $10.5 million in a Series B round that included investments from Salesforce Ventures, Social Capital, the Stanford StartX Fund, Rethink Impact, and Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective. The funding will help Angaza scale up its SaaS platform enabling energy manufacturers and distributors to produce clean energy products for some 1 billion off grid consumers around the world.

    Ellevest is another Salesforce Impact Fund investee. It's a digital financial advisor and investing platform for women focusing building economic security.

    The peer-to-peer text messaging platform, Hustle, also won an investment from the fund. Hustle is designed to help fundraisers such as nonprofits, academic institutions, and advocacy groups connect with donors at scale. Other investors in Hustle’s $8 million Series A round include Omidyar Network, New Media Ventures, and Foundation Capital.

    And finally, Viridis Learning, an SaaS technology platform, “A leading human capital SaaS platform that uses machine learning and predictive analytics to facilitate career discovery, create career pathways and ensure learning aligns with 21st century workforce needs,” received funding from the Salesforce Impact Fund. Viridis raised nearly $7.5 million in total funding form this undisclosed round.

    Suzanne DiBianca, executive vice president of corporate relations and chief philanthropy officer at Salesforce said, “The Salesforce Impact Fund allows us to support a new generation of startups that are focused on driving positive social change.”