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Stealthy startup Highfive raises $13.5M to fix enterprise communications

Above: At Highfive's Palo Alto offices.

Image Credit: Highfive Facebook

Shan Sinha has spent his entire career building enterprise communications products for other companies, and is now hunkered down building his own.

The former Microsoft and Google exec founded Highfive, which makes an enterprise communications product that Sinha said is “reimagining the way people communicate at work.”

Highfive hasn’t even entered private beta mode yet, but has still managed to raise $13.5 million from top-tier investors to help it achieve its vision.

“The way we communicate at work today is broken – we still rely on email, conference calls, and airplanes, and the technologies we use to stay connected end up being the source of the problem,” Sinha told VentureBeat. “The companies we typically rely on to solve these problems, like Microsoft, Google, and Cisco, have fallen short. This is something that impacts every single knowledge worker. That’s over 200 million people.”

Sinha was vague on the details of the technology, since the product is still in stealth mode and won’t launch publicly until the middle of next year.

Highfive has assembled a 25-person crack team of enterprise communications experts to build the product, with experience at Apple, Amazon, Mozilla, Google, Jawbone, and Salesforce.

Sinha said that the first ten minutes of every meeting is often spent troubleshooting IT, and Highfive promises to help workers reclaim that time. The product is designed for an environment where employees are mobile and distributed.

Sinha said he was able to start with a blank slate, which the larger companies can’t do.

shan sinhaHe started his career at Microsoft and then went on to found DocVerse, which Google acquired in 2010. Shah led the Google Apps for Enterprise while he was at Google, and recruited some members of that team to join him at Highfive.

Sinha said the company is looking to double in size over the next six months.

General Catalyst led this round with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures. Enterprise luminaries such as Marc Benioff from Salesforce, Aaron Levie from Box, and Drew Houston from Dropbox participated as angel investors in this round.

Highfive is the latest player to enter the competitive and crowded space of enterprise communication and productivity — Yammer, Chatterbox, Jive, and Hipchat have rival products, to name a few.

With his background and this amount of funding from experienced investors in this space, Highfive could be the company to break through. But we won’t know until next year.

Highfive is based in Palo Alto. It rebranded from Parlay Labs earlier this year and launches its private beta next week with a handful of “marquee customers.”


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