You’re not alone in your grammar woes. More than 20 million people are worried about the complexity of a comma everyday, it appears.
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Grammarly, a digital writing assistant that spell checks, clarifies, and gut checks written language, has raised $90 million in a venture funding round led by General Catalyst, with participation from IVP. This is the San Francisco company’s second growth financing round, bringing its total venture funding to $200 million, according to Crunchbase data.
The San Francisco-based company caters to both beginning and advanced English writers, whether they’re using the service individually or as part of a workplace team. According to a press release announcing the round, the company currently works with over 2,000 business teams to “avoid costly communication breakdowns.”
“A little over four years ago, we introduced our free product, and that’s when our growth took off,” said Brad Hoover, the CEO of Grammarly, on a phone call with Crunchbase News. “And at this point, we have over 20 million people that use our product every day.”
The new funding round will help Grammarly continue to advance beyond spell check.
“Our AI [empowers] people worldwide: individuals, students, professionals, native and non native speakers,” said Hoover. “Given the large need for that, we’ve been growing very rapidly.”
Grammarly intends to expand its offerings to include culture-specific language screening, enterprise product development, readability, and to maximize engagement, he added. For example, if you are trying to write to a specific audience and want to ensure you’re being polite, Grammarly’s most recent feature launch—tone detection—can help.
“It’s not surprising that with written communication, you can’t really use body language or vocal inflections,” Hoover said. “So style, the tone of your written message can easily be misinterpreted, so [people] had concerns.”
Grammarly’s tone detection feature is similar to what Textio, a Seattle startup that has raised $29.5 million in known funding to date, offers. Textio’s writing tool is tailored to HR and recruiting teams. It helps them make sure language in job descriptions, for example, does not unintentionally exclude a set of people.1
According to Kieran Snyder, the CEO of Textio, Grammarly’s tone detector has underlying technology that is “essentially old school translation.”
“This technology might help me modify a sentence like, ‘Hit me up when ur free’ into something more like ‘Feel free to contact me when you’re ready,'” Snyder told Crunchbase News. She added that this sort of editing still makes the user guess whether their tone should be formal or casual.
“By contrast, Textio’s platform is based on real responses to writing, so that every time I’m writing, Textio can generate the tone that’s going to work best for the situation,” she added.
Hoover said inclusivity is just “one type of feedback we offer.”
“Ultimately, we look to provide a holistic set of feedback that can help users accomplish whatever writing goal they might have,” he added.
Grammarly has 240 employees, almost double from its last financing, according to Hoover. It is currently hiring in multiple engineering, marketing, and product roles.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.