Who owns GoFundMe? Investor groups Accel and TVC bought out the crowdfunding platform in 2015


In a mere decade, GoFundMe has grown from a relatively unknown startup to the number one online fundraising platform for crowdfunding. It initially began as a website named “CreateAFund” and was later upgraded and rebranded to today’s name.

What sets it apart from the rest is that it is easily accessible to individuals and friendly to personal causes. As a promising startup based in San Diego, GoFundMe eventually caught the attention of Silicon Valley’s venture capitalist firms. Since then, the company has raised billions of dollars from millions of donors who have come together for every cause they are passionate about.

Investor groups led by Accel Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures bought the controlling share of GoFundMe in 2015

In May 2010, Brad Damphousse and Andrew “Andy” Ballester founded the crowdfunding startup, GoFundMe, in San Diego, California.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the duo decided to “sell the controlling position” to a venture investor group led by Accel Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) in June 2015. Other investors for the fundraising company included Greylock, Meritech, and ICONIQ Capital. As a result, GoFundMe was valued at around $600 million during the time of the sale.

Previously, the company had not raised financing from venture capitalists, reported TechCrunch. It was instead a “bootstrapped” startup, referring to the operation of a company without outside investment, that earned its revenue through a 5 percent fee on every transaction.

Nonetheless, GoFundMe had witnessed a growth rate of 300 percent in fundraising and raised $1.2 billion during its initial five years. Hence, its success piqued the interest of investors.

Though the two co-founders have not candidly shared their reasons for relinquishing control to the investors, Damphousse implied that it was done to tap the full potential of GoFundMe, Chicago Tribune reported. Talking about what prompted the sale of ownership, Damphousse said;

“We’re incredibly proud of what’s been accomplished to date and we’re just getting started. We aspire to be a world-class organization which means knowing when it’s time to bring on people who can help you realize your greatest potential. I’m proud to say that we’ve done just that.”

Rob Solomon, the ex-president of Groupon, ruled as CEO of the company from 2015 to 2020

Rob Solomon at the crowdfunding company’s Menlo Park, California. office (Photo – GoFundMe)

As a part of the ownership transfer deal, Damphousse and Ballester handed over the daily running of the company to a new leadership team. It was to be headed by Rob Solomon, a former president and COO of the e-commerce marketplace Groupon, who stepped in as the CEO of GoFundMe. Besides, a corporate headquarters for the company was established in Redwood City, California.

The management team further comprised David Hahn as president, who was a former vice president for LinkedIn, and Hoang Vuong as COO and CFO.

According to Business Insider, Solomon told The Wall Street Journal; “I think we can become the giving layer of the Internet. In North America alone, non-profits are a $300 billion-a-year industry. There’s a lot of fat in there. If we do our jobs well, we can remove friction as it relates to giving.”

Furthermore, in an interview with Global News, Solomon attributed the success of GoFundMe to the belief that “people want to give when people need help”. It was evidenced by the fact that simply a year and a half after the acquisition, the company had raised approximately $3 billion, which was more than twice the amount accumulated in five years.

“It took five years for the first billion dollars to be donated on the platform. Nine months after that we got to two billion and eight months after that we got to three billion,” Solomon told Global News.

Andy Ballester and Brad Damphousse remain members of the board and own stake at GoFundMe

Andy Ballester and Brad Damphousse
Andy Ballester and Brad Damphousse (Photo – GoFundMe)

Though Damphousse and Ballester no longer control the everyday operations of the company, both still own an undisclosed amount of stake at the company and sit on the board of directors. The GoFundMe website states that the two co-founders share a board seat.

After serving as the CEO of the company for five years, Rob Solomon retired from the post in January 2020. However, he continues his involvement in the company as chairman of the board. Solomon expressed his sentiments in a letter to employees;

“For the past five years, I’ve had the adventure of a lifetime. Back in 2015 when I joined the company, GoFundMe was still relatively unknown. The platform had just reached $1 billion raised and was about to hit 15 million donations. Flash forward to today, we are everywhere…The little website launched in San Diego is now available in 20 countries.”

As his replacement, Tim Cadogan, the former CEO of the programmatic advertising technology company OpenX, was appointed to the post.

In a report by TechCrunch, Cadogan assured that he would follow the strategy laid by Solomon for GoFundMe and dismissed assumptions of immediate change, stating;

“This is a deepening investment in our strategy. We are keeping our DNA as a company and looking for ways to continue to make that even more effective and widely available.”

Currently, other notable members of the executive team consist of Juan Benitez as president and Musa Tariq as the chief marketing officer. Since 2010, GoFundMe has raised $15 billion with more than 150 million donors and has also acquired other fundraising platforms such as CrowdRise, YouCaring, and Classy.

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