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Platform.sh co-founder and CEO Fred Plais still carries the scars of the dot-com bust. His nascent French search engine Infoclic showed some promise but died a premature death when funding ran dry amid the industry-wide meltdown.
After almost two decades in the entrepreneurial wilderness, however, Plais is back with what looks like the right idea at the right moment. And this time, his company was able to raise a hefty round of $140 million despite a tightening economy that is slowing overall investment.
He chalks that up to some of the lessons he's learned since that ill-fated dot-com adventure. These include the value of having a strong business model with clear performance metrics and a conservative approach to spending that saw the company burn through no cash in 2021.
So when it came time to seek new investments, the company stood out as a solid bet at a time when investors were souring on companies losing gobs of money to chase rapid growth.
"I think the profile of Platform.sh in 2022 is actually attractive," Plais said in an interview from his Los Angeles office. "When we started fundraising, we very frequently heard, 'You guys don't burn enough.' And, you know, we certainly wouldn't hear that anymore. Investors are following patterns. And we happen to have the right pattern for 2022."
In late June, Platform.sh raised a $140 million Series D funding round that was led by Digital+ Partners, Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, and Revaia. Previous investors BGV, Eurazeo, Hiinov, and Partech also participated. The company has now raised a total of $181 million since it was founded in 2015 by Plais, Ori Pekelman (who lives in Paris), and Damien Tournoud (who lives in San Diego).
The trio had been working together at Commerce Guys, a studio co-founded by Plais, in 2010 that helped companies build and launch e-commerce sites. As they built these platforms, the team was constantly frustrated by the number and complexity of tools required to launch and manage those sites.
"We worked on hundreds of e-commerce and content projects and we were good at making them but were frustrated every time we had to touch the infrastructure," Plais said. "Our team was very agile and the infrastructure slowed us down all the time. We just kept thinking, okay, there's got to be a better way."
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