Cooperative work management company Smartsheet raises $35M

Smartsheet, the work management tool with a spreadsheet-like user experience, has raised $35 million in a round led by Sutter Hill Ventures. Previous investors, Insight Venture Partners and Madrona Venture Group, also participated in the round. The company’s funding is now $70 million to date.

Smartsheet reports that their adoption is very viral, as project teams bring the solution in, and then spread the application by inviting others in the company — and outside the company — to share smartsheets.

Erica Geil, Groupon’s Director, Global Operations adopted Smartsheet for the PMO group two years ago, and explains the spread this way:

Smartsheet stood out as the clear choice for our group because it’s easy to use and flexible enough to coordinate a wide range of projects and tasks. It’s been really exciting to see is how Smartsheet has spread like wildfire – from Engineering to our Audit and Travel teams around the world. It reinforces our commitment to provide tools that work however the teams work. Smartsheet works alongside Google Apps and other core systems, and via mobile—satisfying our need to increase efficiency, control costs, and collaborate securely. Smartsheet meets all these requirements and more.

Smartsheet’s leveraging of the familiar spreadsheet design metaphor means that people can get up to speed with it very quickly, although that also makes some of the power of the underlying implementation a bit opaque (see Smartsheet is a social tool with an image problem).

However, I believe that Smartsheet is an undervalued solution in the work management space, and that it is one of the first cooperative solutions available. The technique of cross-sheet linkage — where elements in one smartsheet can be pulled from another — means that cascades of work information can be created without any central authority knowing the entirety of the network of smartsheets. This technique is a breakthrough, and is one of the many reasons the company is profitable and growing rapidly in companies like Google, General Services Administration (GSA), Netflix, Electrolux, Office Depot, Groupon, Red Hat, and many others.