medGeorge Anders of Forbes reports, “Medallia is $50 million richer, thanks to a new infusion from one of Silicon Valley’s top venture firms: Sequoia Capital. The new money will help the Palo Alto, Calif., customer-insights company expand geographically and tackle one of software’s trickiest challenges: decoding the noisy rumbles of public sentiment. Medallia helps big companies such as  Nordstrom, Best Western, Lego and Telstra figure out what customers really think about various products and services. A generation ago, direct feedback was scarce. Now, if anything, there’s too much of it. Add up everything being expressed on Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor, e-mail surveys and old-fashioned comment cards — and company executives can feel as if they’re drowning in too much information that keeps arriving hourly in haphazard form.”

Anders continues, “In the past two years, Medallia has been building expertise in natural-language processing and machine learning, with the goal of sorting through myriad kinds of customer feedback. Leading that effort is Ji Fang, a former researcher at Xerox PARC. In a blog post earlier this year, she explained that her group focuses on ways of culling through ‘sentiment-rich comments and sorting them into business-relevant categories.’ … Medallia isn’t saying how many software engineers it’s hiring to beef up its natural-language-processing team, but the company currently has nearly 600 employees, of whom about 20% are software engineers. Medallia’s focus to date has been on serving big global companies that appreciate such detailed analytic capabilities in multiple languages — and don’t mind paying annual fees that can top $1 million.”

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Image: Courtesy Medallia