Announcing $25 million investment and the future of Change.org

Today is an important milestone for Change.org as we announce $25m in Series C investment from some of the world’s most visionary leaders in tech, business and media.

Our new investors include Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Ashton Kutcher & Guy Oseary, and the founders of many of the largest Internet platforms, including Linkedin, Twitter, Yahoo!, and eBay. (There are too many remarkable people to note here, so I’ve listed the full group of investors below.)

This investment represents the next step on our path to building the largest network of people taking social action ever assembled, and gives us the opportunity to transform the nature of civic participation globally.

We are not a traditional company, and this is not a traditional investment round.

When we set out to accelerate our growth by raising this round of capital, we went in search of mission-aligned investors with three characteristics: passion about the potential of technology to empower people to create change, alignment with our belief in the importance of building a business with a long-term perspective, and experience in building global brands and enterprises.

Most people told us this wasn’t possible – that there were not enough people who fit this description, and that we should instead pursue the much easier path of raising traditional institutional investment. But we pushed forward, and feel fortunate to have found that some of the world’s most impressive entrepreneurs and business leaders share our vision.

This investment is a validation of the social impact business we’ve built thus far, and a clear signal that this is only just the beginning of our growth.

Since raising our Series B investment round from the Omidyar Network in mid-2013, we’ve expanded rapidly. We’ve grown from 35 million to more than 80 million users in 196 countries. Our users now win nearly one campaign every hour of every day on a vast range of issues – from getting people access to life-saving Diabetes drugs in Argentina, to helping stop acid attacks on women in India, to persuading police around the U.S. to wear body cameras. We have also hired top executives from leading technology companies like Google, Twitter, and Netflix, and expanded our global staff to support citizen movements in 20 of the world’s largest democracies.

Yet as much as we have accomplished, we have much further to go. For as long as there are people in the world who feel they have no voice and as long as leaders in business or government are making decisions that are disconnected from the public interest, we will have not fully lived up to the challenge and opportunity in front of us.

With this investment we will significantly expand our engineering team in order to build the best technology in the world to scale social change.

Here are some of the things we’ll be working toward:

  • Making change a local, mobile and daily experience. We will be focused on mobile development that enables people to take immediate action based on their location and coordinate real-time action on the issues they care most about.
  • Enabling direct engagement with decision-makers. We will build an enhanced set of tools that enable elected officials and companies to directly engage with the rapidly increasing number of citizens and consumers that are petitioning them for change. We have helped create one of the biggest megaphones of all time for citizens to speak at decision-makers, and we will be making it possible for citizens to work with decision-makers and toward collective solutions.
  • Improving electoral democracy. We will be rethinking the role of citizens in elections – shifting electoral influence away from entrenched interests, political operatives, and the media, and putting it into the hands of citizens and the people they trust.

As we make these investments, we will continue to demonstrate the power of business to address the biggest problems of our time. We are not a company despite caring about social change; we are a company because we care about social change at the sort of scale that we could only achieve with a scalable business model. 

We live at a unique time, when technology and new forms of business give us the ability to empower people to create change at a speed and scale never before possible. This gives all of us the potential to create a world we’ve never seen – a world in which no one is powerless, and creating change is part of everyday life.

As we embark on the next stage of our journey, I want to thank not only our new investors, but everyone who has invested in us over the years.

Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of people who have invested time in starting a campaign on Change.org and taken leadership on an issue in your community. Thank you to the world-leading organizations who have invested resources in connecting your causes to Change.org users and helping us grow. And most of all, thank you to the 80 million people who have invested in the simple belief that creating change in the world is possible, and starts with first deciding to try – even with something as simple as a click.

Onward,
Ben Rattray
Founder and CEO, Change.org

 

Our full list of Series C investors:

Ali and Hadi Partovi (co-founders, Code.org)

Arianna Huffington (founder, Huffington Post)

Ariel Poler (chairman, Textmarks)

Ashton Kutcher & Guy Oseary (A-GRade Investments)

Bill Gates

Bryan Johnson (founder, Braintree & OS Fund)

Dan Rosensweig (CEO, Chegg)

Diane Tang (fellow, Google)

Evan Williams (co-founder, Twitter & Obvious Ventures)

Gideon Yu (former CFO, Facebook & YouTube)

James Currier (co-founder, Tickle & Ooga Labs)

Jeff Weiner (CEO, Linkedin)

Jeffrey Walker (ret. co-founder & managing partner, JPMorgan Partners)

Jerry Yang (co-founder, Yahoo! & AME Cloud Ventures)

Joe Lonsdale (co-founder, Palantir)

Jonathan Sackler (Chairman, Kokino LLC)

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Katie Stanton (vice president of global media, Twitter)

Lorna Borenstein (founder & CEO, Grokker)

Louis Eisenberg (Facebook)

Michael Birch (co-founder, Bebo)

Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler Family

Nicolas Berggruen (Berggruen Institute)

Omidyar Network

Rick Segal (Managing Partner, Rethink)

Reid Hoffman (co-founder, Linkedin)

Richard Branson (founder, Virgin Group)

Sam Altman (president, Y Combinator)

Shawn Byers (MITS Fund, LLC)

Trawalla Foundation

Uprising

Warner Philips (founder and managing partner, KW Forever Ventures)