Jan 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Progressive data startup Civitech raises $10M

Illustration of a donkey holding a big hundred dollar bill in its mouth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Civitech, a public benefit corporation building data tools for progressive candidates and causes, is raising over $10 million in a series A funding round led by Higher Ground Labs, an investment group backing progressive campaign tech companies.

Why it matters: The investment signals a renewed focus on down-ballot data and technology to help Democrats recruit local candidates ahead of this fall's midterms. The round values Civitech at $50 million, executives tell Axios.

Catch up quick: Civitech provides data, tools and technology to thousands of down-ballot progressive campaigns.

Details: Higher Ground Labs led the new round, with participation from investment firms Scout Ventures, Gaingels and other investors.

  • Civitech will use the new funds to scale its product, marketing and engineering teams, CEO and co-founder Jeremy Smith said.
  • The Austin, Texas-based company launched in 2019 with a $500,000 friends-and-family funding round.
  • It's spent the past year integrating Alloy's data verification tools and its voter file data into its suite of digital campaign tools, to make them available to campaigns and candidates ahead of the 2022 election cycle.

Between the lines: In conjunction with the raise, Civitech also announced the acquisition of KnockCo, a peer-to-peer texting company, and its proprietary technology platform, TextOut.

  • Civitech will integrate TextOut into its suite of tools and services to make it easier for campaigns to contact voters via texting. Most of KnockCo’s employees — around 10 people — will join Civitech. It now has 50 employees.
  • Smith notes that amid the pandemic, texting has become an important supplement to in-person voter registration and candidate-recruitment efforts.

By the numbers: Civitech has worked with more than 40 organizations who recruit and train more than 2,700 new progressive candidates to run for office, Smith said. It registered more than 50,000 new voters in 2021.

The big picture: Democrats were caught flat-footed in 2016 by the level of collaboration on the right over data-sharing.

  • In 2020, multiple groups — including the Democratic National Committee, Alloy and Mike Bloomberg's in-house digital agency, Hawkfish — were all building competitive data and digital tools.
  • That caused some intraparty friction.

What to watch: Smith notes that Civitech's partnership with Higher Ground Labs helps the firm avoid creating duplicate technology solutions already being built elsewhere in the Democratic civic-tech ecosystem.

  • "It's much more collaborative than maybe a typical Silicon Valley VC. ... We are all working toward this kind of larger and mission-driven goal," he said, referencing Higher Ground Labs' other progressive tech portfolio companies.

Go deeper: "Civitech acquires data and tech from Alloy"

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