A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but a good chart or diagram can tell a whole heck of a lot more than that.
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Lucidchart (also known as Lucid Software) is a Utah-based company helping organizations collaborate through visual media. It offers a suite of web-based digital publishing and visual asset creation tools featuring real-time collaboration and integration with popular enterprise productivity platforms.
Today, the company announces that it has raised $72 million in a Series C round from new investors Meritech Capital and ICONIQ Capital. Existing investor Spectrum Equity participated as well. This brings the company’s total venture funding to just over $114 million. Lucidchart declined to answer specific questions about revenue and valuation.
In addition to continued investment in developing its product and service offerings, Lucidchart will be opening a second headquarters in Amsterdam in January 2019 to serve the company’s European, Middle Eastern, and African customers. The company says it has 15 million users using the product in seven languages across more than 180 countries around the world.
Crunchbase News spoke with Lucidchart co-founder and CEO Karl Sun about the funding round, his company’s progress to date, and plans for the future.
First launched in beta in December 2008 and formally released in July 2010, the company operated at the edge of in-browser design and collaboration capabilities. Recalling the “pretty sorry state” of web-based tools like Google Docs at the time, Sun reminisced about the eighth-second keystroke lag, among other things. “It was all very kludgey,” he said.
Sun, an early Google employee who moved to Salt Lake City around late 2009, met co-founder Ben Dilts, who at the time had already released the early beta of Lucidchart publicly.
“It performed better than anything else in the market at the time,” said Sun, speaking about Lucidchart’s drawing and collaboration features. Dilts had left college to work at another company prior to Lucidchart and wanted to go back and finish his degree. As Dilts completed school, Sun worked with him to turn Lucidchart into a business.
“Our goal from the start has been to help people work the way they think, which for most people is visually,” said Sun.
What started out as a simple web-based tool for making flowcharts and simple diagrams has evolved to a more robust toolkit for composing images that overlay data from outside sources onto graphics created with Lucidchart. For example, the company can automatically visualize a customer’s AWS virtual private cloud as a network topology diagram. It can also import a sales team’s Salesforce contacts to create annotated maps of big accounts, among other things. Sun mentioned several forthcoming integrations with more sales and software performance tracking applications.Our goal from the start has been to help people work the way they think, which for most people is visually. Click To Tweet
Lucidchart crossed the 10 million user mark in 2017 and reports having 15 million to day. The company said it “attracts 700,000 new users per month.”
Although Lucidchart’s first investors were based in the Bay Area, Sun maintains that “it really benefited the company” to be based elsewhere. A lot has changed in the Salt Lake City startup scene, said Sun.
“It’s turned into a leading market for enterprise software,” he said, citing recent initial public offerings by Pluralsight and Domo. He also observed that a number of venture firms from coastal hubs like San Francisco and New York are increasingly investing in Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah.
I asked Sun about the prospect of taking the company public any time soon.
“The topic comes up, but for now we’re focused on growing the business,” he said, before changing tone slightly. “For a long time, we thought it was hubris[tic] to talk about going public. But the floodgates really opened this year. So, now, it’s possible.” However, with fresh funding from private sources, and more available if necessary, the company can afford to eschew public markets for now.
Correction: The original version of this piece stated that Karl Sun was an early engineer at Google. He was an early employee, but not an engineer. He was first a patent lawyer and later transitioned into a business development role when he helped open Google’s China office.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias