The New York City-based women's private networking organization announced today it closed a $100 million Series B fundraise, valuing their company at $1.1 billion. The round was led by CapitalG, the independent growth fund of Google parent company Alphabet; Laela Sturdy, general partner at CapitalG, will join Chief's board. The raise marks one of the fastest launch-to-billion-dollar transformations for a solely female-founded, venture-backed U.S. tech company ever.
"We never set out to be a billion-dollar company," says Childers, whose company offers C-suite execs and rising vice presidents mentorship opportunities across industries, focused career coaching sessions, networking events, and more. "But we're excited about hitting this milestone, because it shows that investment in women is a good investment."
The company expanded its platform nationally in January this year after scaling through the pandemic. In addition to some targeted marketing toward large companies, the founders say the majority of the company's growth came from word of mouth. Over the past year, its membership of executive women has more than doubled, reaching more than 12,000 business leaders from over 8,500 companies, including HBO, American Express, Nike, Google, Goldman Sachs, and NASA.
"There was this moment in time when nobody had a playbook," says Kaplan. "We're all leaders trying to navigate our teams through a pandemic and social unrest and everything that was hitting us over the last few years, and it was a community that leaders really needed to turn to."
Chief also operates four lush meetup and event spaces in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but they're the "cherry on top of the membership," as Kaplan says. The real focus on their platform is digital peer gatherings, which bring 10 members with the same level of seniority together with an executive coach on a monthly basis. The membership isn't cheap--$5,800 for VP-level execs and $7,900 for C-suite executives--but realizing early on that they needed a blend of in-person and digital offerings, the founders have given people a choice of how they want to get the most out of their membership.
The raise, of course, wasn't easy, but Childers says she and Kaplan knew they found the right partners almost immediately--meaning the length of a speed date--because the right ones understood their mission from the start. Ideally, the founders note, their investors understand the trials women at the top face and what it takes to get, and stay, there. Because, as Childers adds, it's not just about capital, but also about having "partners who are willing to join you on the journey."