Poppulo founder O'Shaughnessy retains major stake as US fund invests €30m in Cork firm

Andrew O’Shaughnessy

Cork-based tech company Poppulo has raised €30 million in funding from US venture capital firm Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE) as it looks to boost its presence in overseas markets.

It intends to use the funds to invest in its technology platform and to take on additional sales and marketing staff across North America and Europe. Founder Andrew O’Shaughnessy has retained a major shareholding in the company which provides firms with ways to communicate with their employees by email and app.

The firm employs 163 people in Cork and 37 in Boston, has a large roster of international and domestic clients that includes Unilever, Bank of America, Nestlé, Johnson Controls, Rolls-Royce, Boston Scientific and a string of pharma firms, as well as CRH, Kerry, and AIB. It provides internal communications for millions of employees at companies and measures the success of those communications. For the €30m, SGE has secured a minority stake in Poppulo, which was formerly known as Newsweaver. The money will help Poppulo expand its reach around the world.

Mr O’Shaughnessy set up the firm almost 10 years ago, has retained a major shareholding, with SGE securing a significant minority stake.

Poppulo sees the investment as advancing its plans to grow in the so-called “employee engagement sector”, which helps companies retain and recruit staff.

“The companies and organisations who are winning know how absolutely crucial internal communication is not only for employee engagement but also in terms of recruitment and retention and ultimately the bottom line,” said Mr O’Shaughnessy.

“We were acutely aware that people need to feel a sense of purpose in their workplace, of being involved and being valued, and having their views heard and acted on. Which puts communications at the heart of everything a company needs to do if it is to be successful,” he said. Internal communications must now mirror the type of information staff tap in their personal lives by filtering out irrelevant content, he said.

SGE had made no secret of its plans to invest in Irish firms. It is best known here for its recent investment in salon software firm Phorest. It invests in software, information services, and internet businesses that are “disrupting the way business is done across multiple industries”. Its other current investments include property firm Boom Town, company benefits firm Evive, freelance staff management system Field Nation, iContracts and Outbrain.

SGE managing director Jonathan Klahr said the market for internal communications was even now at an early stage.

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