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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

4 mins ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Rising rates may hammer the stock market

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Stocks are much more vulnerable to interest rate swings than they used to be.

Why it matters: A sharp rise in rates in early 2022 is the key reason the stock market is off to an ugly start. And with the Federal Reserve making noise about trying to keep inflation in check, rates could go higher.

Ina Fried, author of Login
49 mins ago - Technology

Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal complicates Big Tech regulation

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Microsoft's surprise $68 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard is adding a fresh twist to the heated debate over which tech companies have monopolies that need to be reined in.

The big picture: The deal could force a question the company has happily ducked for a decade: whether its size and power make it just as deserving of regulatory scrutiny as its Big Tech rivals.