Fidelity Backs Appirio for Crowdsourced Cloud Services

Appirio Inc. Chief Executive Chris Barbin
Appirio Inc.

Cloud-services provider Appirio Inc. has gathered $35 million so far in a new round led by Fidelity Management & Research Co., an arm of mutual-fund company Fidelity Investments.

Appirio is still talking to strategic investors and will leave the round open for a short time, co-founder and Chief Executive Chris Barbin told Venture Capital Dispatch. It hasn’t set a target for the fundraising.

Based in San Francisco, Appirio helps companies migrate to Salesforce.com , Workday and other cloud services, but it does so with a twist. It offers customers the option of subscribing to a self-service platform backed by a global online community of about 800,000 people who participate as a way of winning challenges and learning new technical skills.

For each customer, Appirio breaks down the job at hand into units of work, determining what parts Appirio has done and might have intellectual property to apply, what can be crowdsourced to the community and what needs to be done by an Appirio consultant.

The work is then delivered “in the most efficient manner possible,” Mr. Barbin said. Some older customers, such as NASA and Comcast, are comfortable with self-service, he said, while others, such as Honeywell, want to hire Appirio as a contractor, which means Appirio handles the crowdsourcing.

Professional services can be an expensive and time-consuming business for customers, and Mr. Barbin said it hasn’t been disrupted since companies started sending technical work to India several years ago.

“We think the intersection of cloud and crowd is a much bigger disruption,” he said. The combination enables Appirio to deliver services faster and more cheaply than traditional consultants, he said, and some competitors, including large systems integrators, also use Appirio’s crowdsourcing platform as they compete.

Appirio so far has raised $111 million and hasn’t determined how much it will raise in this round. The new money will be used to keep building the crowdsourcing and technology platform, expand to new geographies and add new cloud partnerships.

Alex Castro, who joined Appirio from Electronic Arts, was named to the new position of chief technology officer to oversee the platform, and Appirio continues to look for new cloud services to add to its practice. Cornerstone on Demand, ServiceMax and Concur are among the services added in the last three years, and Mr. Barbin said he expects to add Microsoft at some point.

Appirio has turned away multiple acquisition offers and still has a lot to do, he said.

Other investors in Appirio include General Atlantic, GGV Capital, Sequoia Capital and Salesforce.com Inc.

Write to Deborah Gage at deborah.gage@wsj.com. Follow her on Twitter at @deborahgage