Empathy closes $47 million for AI to help with the practical and emotional grieving process

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Death, as the famous saying goes, is one of life’s inevitable certainties. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with – and not just because when loved ones are grieving, they also have to handle a number of practical tasks, from organizing a funeral to settling finances for the deceased. A startup called Empathy has built a platform to help tackle this tricky niche, and it’s now raised another $47 million in funding to grow, with nearly 40 million people using the platform.

The equity round, a Series B, is being led by new backer Index Ventures along with several leading insurance companies – MassMutual Ventures, MetLife, New York Life, Securian, and Sumitomo – Participating as strategic investors. While the company initially launched with a more direct sales model, these days, it primarily operates through a B2B2C approach, providing services through policies from employers or insurers, which overall forms the bulk of its business. 99% share.

It used the funding to continue building out its tools and focus on a larger mission of “redefining bereavement care,” in the words of CEO Ron Gura, who co-founded the company with Jonathan Bergman. Will go.

Today, Empathy’s platform includes a mix of AI and human guides to help people in all different aspects of the grieving process, from counseling services and AI to services that help write obituaries and the closing process, all dozens of Includes services that help automate. Cloud services may have been used by the deceased to help deal with more complex financial matters as well.

Gura said future services are likely to include more AI tools to guide people on the question of “what next” in the process of getting things organized.

The total amount raised by Empathy in this round has reached $90 million. Empathy isn’t disclosing its valuation, but we’ve learned from sources close to the company that it’s now approaching $400 million.

The startup was founded in Israel and continues its R&D operations there, but its business focus so far has been the US market, where it sells services primarily through insurance companies and employers. To date, approximately 5 million employees and 35 million policyholders are using Empathy’s tools, Gura said.

Empathy’s arrival on the market came at the right time: it launched in the US in 2021, during the height of the pandemic when mortality rates were perhaps higher than usual in people’s minds; And, as it turns out, a pinnacle moment in venture funding. This led the company to announce two rounds of funding in quick succession the year of its launch: initially $13 million and then another $30 million just five months later.

While death rates in the US are now improving after the hardest years of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are still expected to exceed 3 million annually in 2023, according to US Census data. The hours required to handle a deceased person’s cases – an average of more than 420 – have not decreased. Most people have no idea what goes into that effort until they have to face it themselves (unfortunately what I can say from direct experience is very true. ).

Gura — a serial entrepreneur who founded a social commerce company that he sold to eBay (The Gifts Project), who then spent years in senior roles at WeWork — spoke about a tragedy in his family, and his The medium was faced with the difficult situation of managing practicalities. It was his emotional times that initially made him think about empathy.

“I knew nothing about estate planning, but I knew a lot about grief,” he said.

The rise of more sophisticated AI tooling has played a role in how empathy has evolved over the years. Although there have been a lot of efforts in the field considering what role AI could play in empathy (with a little “e”), the startup Empathy, Gura said, is hiring a human team for that aspect of its The focus has been on service, focusing instead on technology to make certain busy and organizational tasks easier to handle in faster and more cost-effective, scalable ways.

“For Empathy to provide this service as table stakes to all life insurance policy holders, it would not be possible without intelligent technology,” Danny Rimmer, a partner at Index, said in an interview. “There are many aspects that will be controlled by humans rather than individuals, but many tools must be provided [alongside that], Practical things like being able to close bank or membership accounts. AI can provide much of that simulated reasoning. It may also be helpful to write eulogies.”

Along with Index and insurance companies, others in the round included previous backers General Catalyst, Entry Capital, Latitude (a sister fund of existing investor LocalGlobe) and Brewer Lane.



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