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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Grammarly, the company behind the popular AI-powered writing assistant, has raised $90 million to provide more services for business writing. The company would not share its new valuation, but claims it's now a "unicorn" — a privately-held company worth over $1 billion.

Why it matters: That's a lot of money for an announcement without any new product launches, but Grammarly CEO Brad Hoover says the company doesn't face much competition, which could be attractive to investors.

"Ultimately, we're creating a new category for digital writing assistants."
— Hoover

Details: The round is led by return investors General Catalyst and IVP. Grammarly did not disclose minority investors.

  • This is the company's second raise. It raised $110 million in a 2017 round that was also led by General Catalyst and IVP, as well as Spark Capital.
  • The company says it has 20 million daily active users on its various services, including users in more than 2,000 businesses and institutions.

How it works: Grammarly checks spelling and grammar for free, and paying users get more sophisticated suggestions about accuracy, precision, formality, and style.

Some of the new money will go toward more features for business users, Hoover says — but the company isn't launching any new enterprise products.

  • It currently sells a "Grammarly for Business" subscription, which allows access to the tool for an entire business team, like a sales or customer support group.
  • One coming feature will help writers follow corporate style guides, Hoover says. He wouldn't say what other changes are planned, beyond a push to "extend the availability of Grammarly within the enterprise."

Yes, but: The renewed focus on business stirs up privacy questions, because Grammarly has to have access to what users write to be able to offer suggestions.

  • This is especially thorny for legal and health-related writing, which can be subject to HIPAA or attorney-client privilege. (Grammarly, for its part, is pitching its product for roles like HR, marketing and customer service.)
  • Hoover says Grammarly prioritizes security, limits employee access to data, and "never would sell or rent data, including for advertising."

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.