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Community engagement has emerged as a significant focus for organizations as they look to harness the energy of their core user base and loyal “super fans.” But in a world filled with myriad touchpoints such as Slack, Twitter, Discourse, or GitHub, it can be challenging to preserve on best of points, recognize who the most engaged customers are, and what keeps them coming back. And that is why San Francisco-based Orbit is setting out to repair what it calls “community data chaos.”
Founded in 2019, Orbit provides organizations a collective view of their neighborhood, like insights into what platforms and person members are displaying the most engagement, in terms of recency, frequency, and effect.
“Companies are beginning to understand the strategic value communities can create for their business, but given the distributed nature of communities today, they have no idea what’s working and what’s not across all those channels,” Orbit CEO Patrick Woods told VentureBeat. “For the first time, Orbit gives them a complete view of their community across all tools and platforms where they’re active and equips them with tools to proactively engage critical segments.”
Orbit was obtainable in beta ahead of now, but the platform officially launches today with $15 million in funding from Coatue, Andreessen Horowitz, Heavybit, and Harrison Metal.
Orbit is aimed at any one whose job it is to handle and retain a neighborhood — this could be developer relations, such as an open supply project maintainer tasked with attracting more contributors, or a common neighborhood manager.
“Individual contributors like community managers and developer advocates use Orbit daily to proactively build their community,” Woods stated. “Folks on leadership teams, like directors of community or VPs of marketing, use Orbit’s reports and data to power decision-making across the company.”
So, what type of actionable insights can organizations glean from Orbit? Well, it can support recognize newcomers to a neighborhood, enabling managers to target precise men and women with a direct reachout, for instance, or it can surface who the massive champions are and who brings genuine worth.
More broadly, Orbit information can support inform exactly where in-particular person events must be staged or what subjects the neighborhood is most interested in, though it can highlight prospective new sales leads or recognize promoting case research.
Out of the box, Orbit integrates with Discord, Discourse, GitHub, Twitter, Slack, N8n, and Zapier, the latter enabling some 3,000 more app integrations. However, Orbit touts its “API-first” strategy, with common third-party integrations like YouTube, Twitch, Stack Overflow, Notion, and LinkedIn, which collectively can support track the evolution of every single neighborhood member across all platforms.
“Using our API, many of our customers also track product milestones in Orbit, letting them see in a single place a person’s journey from community member to product user,” Woods added.
In the future, Woods stated that Orbit will create additional integrations based on demand (the enterprise actively solicits feedback from its personal neighborhood), which might involve CRMs, information warehouses, and other neighborhood platforms.
Developer-focused organizations are a significant target marketplace for Orbit, with present consumers like API-development platform Postman, CI/CD platform CircleCI, Elasticsearch developer Elastic, and GraphQL developer Apollo. However, it can be utilised by any enterprise that demands to monitor and report on their neighborhood engagement.
“Developer communities are undoubtedly central to our experience, but we’ve seen increasing adoption from communities of all types over the past several months,” Woods stated. “I think that’s because the challenges of distributed communities are universal — wrangling different data from multiple platforms, working across numerous tools, having no single pane of glass into the community. Community managers exist in a state of reactionary fire-fighting, and their bosses don’t know what’s working and what’s not.”
Ultimately, Orbit is about measuring effect: assisting neighborhood managers or developer relations teams demonstrate the accomplishment (or lack thereof) that their efforts are obtaining on the company’s bottom line.
“We’ve built Orbit as a kind of mission control for communities for precisely this reason, to help community teams act proactively and strategically while informing the whole company on the impact and ROI of the community,” Woods stated.
A speedy peek elsewhere reveals a flurry of activity across the neighborhood management landscape. Back in February, Commsor raised $16 million for a related proposition, though shortly following Common Room locked down $52 million in funding. Orbit, for its component, raised $4 million back in December, and a further $15 million today.
So what’s driving this demand? According to Woods, it comes down to how computer software is now consumed, though the worldwide pandemic has also played its component.
“The way people buy software has changed,” Woods stated. “Software is no longer sold — it’s adopted, as demonstrated by the rise of product-led growth and bottom-up go-to-market. COVID made companies, who could no longer drive sales at in-person events, keenly aware of this new reality. Community has been important to humans for a long time, but only these recent trends have shifted the zeitgeist to the point that businesses have come to see community as a strategic driver of value.”
Citing anecdotal proof, Woods pointed to conversations that Orbit has had with its personal consumers, whose investors — or prospective investors — have asked about their strategy to neighborhood management and their approaches for expanding it.
“This is a significant shift from only two or three years ago, when roles like community and developer relations were seen by many as a nice-to-have effort, secondary to traditional sales and marketing teams,” Woods added. “The great news is that when companies truly invest in community building, it means they’re focused on creating value from people, not just capturing — which we think is a long-term net positive for society.”