Announcing Front’s Series C
It’s official: we’ve raised $59 million in our Series C funding round!
I want to take a moment to thank our customers for their partnership and feedback, our team for their tireless dedication to building Front, and our investors for their support — I know we wouldn’t be here without you all. We’ll use this new money to continue building the best product, improve its distribution, and hire more people to join us on our journey. (We’ve just opened an office in Phoenix and we’re hiring!)
The most interesting part about this funding is that it is led by a group of individual investors, as opposed to a traditional venture fund, which is an uncommon feat for a round of this size. They’re some of the biggest leaders in technology: Atlassian co-CEO and co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes; Atlassian President Jay Simons; Okta executive vice chairman, COO and co-founder Frederic Kerrest; Qualtrics co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith and Qualtrics co-founder and CTO Jared Smith; and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.
I’m excited that these leaders recognize the gap in the marketplace that Front is trying to bridge and see Front as the solution. Products that had set out to kill email years ago have yet to deliver on their promise, and it’s clear that the solution to our collaboration woes must include email. Call me biased, but I think Front’s approach is the best 😁
I don’t particularly enjoy the process of raising funds, but one thing I like about it is that it’s a good time to take a break from daily operations and step back. Here is what I learned during the process:
It doesn’t get easier.
I’ve written before about how, for me at least, growing and leading a company does not seem to get easier with time. Andrew Reed, one of our investors at Sequoia, shared a quote with me from US cycling legend Greg LeMond that perfectly summarizes what’s happening:
“It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.”
It was hard to ship the first version of the product, it was hard to get to $1 million in revenue, and it’s hard to keep scaling the business today, but somehow it’s different: the playground grows with us. With each new milestone, it’s never about making the job easier than before, always about investing more resources, expending more energy, so that we can accomplish the business equivalent of a cyclist going faster.
Always remember (and communicate) the why behind what you’re doing.
If it doesn’t get easier, why am I taking on additional funding and signing up for many more years of this? In my case, Front has always been a means through which I can create a great place to work, and as the company grows, I get a clearer sense of what that means for the people working at Front. They want to:
- Contribute to a mission they care about.
- Use their unique skills.
- Learn from great managers and work with great peers.
- Feel part of the journey.
I also get a clearer sense of how we can help people beyond the growing but limited set of Front employees:
- Through launching our Unlocking Meaningful Work series, publishing content about leadership and work, and hiring a CMO to help spread awareness of our mission at scale.
- By proving that Front can give teams the visibility and efficiency they need to meet their customers’ expectations, without burning out their employees.
So really, this new round of funding is giving us an opportunity to deliver on our “work happier” mission on a scale that goes beyond the (currently) 170 employees of Front.
Wait for the right moment to raise.
As for the fundraising process itself, I stuck to the rules I had outlined in my previous post: wait for the right moment (more on that below), write a clear story, and dictate the timeline. This resulted in a very fast process once again, with 11 days between my first meeting and my signing of a term sheet. And once again, being able to demonstrate that our market was huge (literally one billion people use email for work, and the market is growing) made everything easier.
When is it the right moment? This is purely subjective, but must be genuinely felt. You need to communicate confidence to prospective investors, and it’s much easier to do when your self-confidence is at its highest. Now was the right moment for me for a combination of reasons:
Internally, the last few months have given me much more clarity into our go-to-market strategy. We have identified key industries that deeply needed Front and found ways to consistently reach them and win them over.
Externally, I’m able to articulate our market opportunity more clearly. I see 3 seemingly opposing trends happening at once, both reported by our customers and felt by us as a company:
- People want a more human relationship with the brands they do business with;
- Employees want a more human relationship with their work;
- Businesses face increased competition and want more productivity, scale, and reach.
This is an opportunity for Front, because current communication software is either ticket-based (this is good for #3, but does little for #2 and fails #1), or way too insufficient to help deliver great work (I’m talking about traditional email clients, who are good at #1, but at the cost of both #2 and #3). Both solutions need to be supplemented by additional collaboration tools (Slack, Teams, etc.), that more often than not make the process even less human: more separation from our other work, more notifications to parse through, more “always on” at work and at home.
We’re serving 5,500 businesses in 96 countries around the world, and I’m certain that we’re only just getting started. I’m thrilled to be on this next step in Front’s journey to fundamentally change the way people work for the better.
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