Workplace

Productivity apps can’t stop making money

ClickUp had one of the biggest series C funding rounds ever. Here's how it matches up to the other productivity unicorns.

ClickUp CEO Zeb Evans

ClickUp made $400 million in its series C funding round.

Photo: ClickUp

Productivity platform ClickUp announced a milestone Wednesday. The company raised $400 million, which is one of the biggest series C funding rounds in the workplace productivity market ever. The round, led by Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global, put the private company at a $4 billion valuation post-money.

In case it's not clear: This is a massive amount of money. It shows how hot the productivity space is right now, with some predicting that the market size could reach almost $120 billion by 2028. In a world of hybrid workers, all-in-one tool platforms are all the rage among both startups and productivity stalwarts. Companies everywhere want to escape tool overwhelm, where work is spread across dozens of apps.

"Our thesis around work software is that it's been very fragmented and broken and inefficient," said ClickUp CEO Zeb Evans. "Our future of work begins and ends with putting all of your work in one place."

ClickUp provides a set of tools on one platform, including knowledge hubs, project management, reminders, email and document collaboration. The company says it has more than 85,000 paying customers, including McDonald's and Netflix. It also says that more than 90% of customers use three or more products within the ClickUp platform. The company's first round of funding was in 2020, and it achieved unicorn status in December 2020.

Evans said product and user-led growth have remained his biggest focus as the company has progressed. In such a competitive market, there's little room for error, especially right when a productivity startup launches. When you get closer to unicorn territory, then you have to place a greater emphasis on sales and marketing. "You can't outmarket them, you can't outresource them, you really can only win on product at the beginning of your journey," Evans said. "It's about how fast you can put out those fires and fix things to keep the machine going."

With this new investment, ClickUp is working to expand globally and localize its product in every language. The company hopes to hire dedicated workforces in all the areas it reaches.

Though the goal is to have all work done in ClickUp, the company recognizes that people may not want to abandon every tool for its platform. "We aren't naive enough to believe that everybody wants to replace every single application that they have," Evans said. "We do play very nicely with not only competition but other integrations that are not competitive to us."

This isn't the single biggest round of funding for a productivity app: Before it was acquired by Salesforce, Slack raised $427 million in a series H funding round. Slack is one of the productivity companies Evans always admired for being an innovative disruptor in the productivity world, though he feels that Slack could have taken the company further. "They had an amazing outcome, don't get me wrong," Evans said. "But had they kept that fire lit under them, that innovation mindset of continuously iterating on their product and taking big bets, they probably could have been that category leader in our space."

Even if Slack did raise more money in a later round, for ClickUp to reach almost that level of funding in a series C gives it a significant leg up among the other private productivity unicorns.

Correction: This story was updated to reflect that ClickUp's first round of funding was in 2020. This story was updated on Oct. 28, 2021.

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep Reading Show less
FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
Enterprise

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep Reading Show less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.

Enterprise

Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories
Bulletins