Zuora raises $15M to manage online subscriptions

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Zuora, which offers online services to automate customer subscriptions and payments, has raised $15 million in a second round of funding.

Chief executive Tien Tzuo said he wants Zuora to be the web’s top “online subscription platform,” the way PayPal is the default platform for web payments. Zuora has released two complementary products so far, Z-Billing and Z-Payments (the latter launched earlier this month). The Redwood City, Calif. startup says it now has 45 customers.

And as Tzuo argues in the funding announcement, Zuora might actually benefit from a slowing economy. After all, if your revenue model is based on subscriptions, that’s not something you can cut from your budget. Zuora’s software-as-a-service product will almost certainly be cheaper than building your own subscription/billing infrastructure, or paying established (but more expensive) provider Portal Software.

The new round was led by Shasta Ventures and Lehman Brothers Venture Partners — yes, the venture arm of the bankrupt investment bank, which is trying to spin itself off as a separate entity. Existing investors Benchmark Capital and Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff also participated (Tzuo was an early Salesforce employee). Zuora’s total funding is now $21.5 million.

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