June 17, 2020 / 2:15 PM / 22 days ago

Workplace search startup Onna gets $27 million in venture funding

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - Search startup Onna Technologies Inc, which helps companies find information buried within emails, chats and storage services, announced on Wednesday $27 million in new funding from venture capital firm Atomico and past investors such as Slack Technologies Inc (WORK.N).

The investment values Onna at over $100 million, its chief executive Salim Elkhou said in an interview, declining to provide a specific figure.

Atomico principal Ben Blume told Reuters the firm monitored Onna over a year before deciding to invest in late March, as the novel coronavirus underscored the need for businesses to have a search tool.

Companies’ usage of online collaboration services has exploded while employees work away from the office during the pandemic.

But workers often cannot remember where to find information that might be stored in one of several dozen services they use.

“Knowledge gets siloed,” Blume said. “There’s this need to find, manage, track and secure that information, and that’s the core of why Onna exists.”

However, leading corporate email providers such as Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google sell competing search tools, and the increase in remote working could refocus efforts on improvements that could challenge Onna, industry insiders have said.

Onna charges a monthly fee to simultaneously search across services such as Slack, Google Drive and Dropbox, which is an investor, too. The latest funding will go toward additional integration.

Jason Spinell, who manages Slack’s investment fund, told Reuters he uses Onna daily to find investment agreements or memos. Slack’s legal team uses it when dealing with lawsuits to find chats and other records potentially related to those cases.

Elkhou said Onna helped an unnamed U.S. tech company unearth old product designs, when it was looking for inspiration, after a more simple search tool could not.

He added that Onna has additional capabilities. It helps company attorneys when they have to turn over documents to investigators and also can alert security teams when confidential files are shared with outsiders.

(In paragraph 9, Slack corrects to say legal team uses Onna in research for lawsuits, not patents)

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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