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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 15, 2008 at 3:14 PM

Mercent going national with new funding

The Seattle online marketing technology company will use its $6.5 million in series B funding to build up its sales and marketing teams, adding about six employees in Seattle and another six or so at major business cities across the country.

Mercent, which now has 25 employees, has been on a tear, with its services now touching 200 million Internet shoppers, but its client list is heavily local, with flagship customers such as REI, Nordstrom and Celebrate Express. Now it’s attempting to raise its profile in the rest of the country.

“This financing will help us take that an expand into the national and potentially international markets,” Chief Executive Eric Best said.

Best tapped his former employer, Amazon.com, for a business development expert, Todd Sherman, who will help lead Mercent’s next phase.

The funding is on top of earlier financing of $2.75 million and $4 million, plus angel funding. Leading the latest round was San Diego-based TVC Capital, whose managing partner, Steve Hamerslag, will joing Mercent’s board. Increasing their stake through the round were Madrona Venture Group and an affiliate of Pittsburgh’s The Hillman Group.

Retailers use Mercent’s platform as a sort of console to manage and optimize product placement and offers across multiple online shopping channels.

Madrona’s managing director, Tom Alberg, said Mercent’s making good progress and the firm likes its Web services model, providing software via the Web.

What about challenging conditions in the retail sector? Alberg said Mercent still has opportunity because retailers are seeing online growth and its technology helps improve their return.

“If you get into a recessionary time, revenue growth may slow,” Alberg said, “but it’s also a time you try to figure out ‘how do I do better, maybe I need tools to do that.'”

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