Compassion closes $47M for AI to help with the practical and emotional grieving process

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Image credit: Dilettantiquity / Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Death, as the popular saying goes, is one of life’s inevitable certainties. But that doesn’t make it easy to cope – not least because when loved ones are grieving, they also have to deal with many practical tasks, from arranging a funeral to managing the finances of the deceased. . A startup called Empathy built a platform to help navigate this difficult space, and now with nearly 40 million people using the platform, it has raised another $47 million to grow.

The equity round, a Series B, was led by New Baker Index Ventures along with several major 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 operates primarily through a B2B2C approach, servicing employers or insurers through policies, which are its It accounts for 99% of the business.

According to CEO Ron Gura, who co-founded the company with Jonathan Bergman, the funding will be used to continue building its tools and focus on a larger mission. will be done

Today, Empathy’s platform incorporates a mix of AI and human guides to help people with all different aspects of the bereavement process, from counseling services and AI-assisted bereavement services. To help automate a dozen to-do closing processes. Cloud services that the deceased may have used have also helped to settle more complex financial matters.

More services will likely include more AI tools to guide people through the “what next” question in the ordering process, Gaura said.

This round brings the total raised by Empathy to $90 million. Compassion is not disclosing its value, but we understand from sources close to the company that it is now close to $400 million.

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

Compassion’s arrival on the market was timely: it launched in the US in 2021, during the height of the pandemic when mortality rates were perhaps higher than usual on people’s minds. And, as it turned out, a peak moment in venture funding. That led the company to quickly announce two rounds in its launch year: an initial $13 million and then another $30 million just five months later.

Although death rates are now improving in the U.S. after the toughest years of the Covid-19 pandemic, they will still exceed 3 million annually in 2023, according to U.S. Census data. What hasn’t gone down are – to include the cases of one deceased person – an average of more than 420. Most people have no idea what goes into this effort until they experience it themselves (something I can unfortunately say I know from direct experience to be very true). .

Gora — a serial entrepreneur who founded a social commerce company he sold to eBay (The Gift Project) and then spent years in senior roles at WeWork — had a tragedy in his own family. told, and faced with this extreme difficulty of managing practically through it. His emotional times made him think about compassion to begin with.

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

The rise of more sophisticated AI tooling has played a role in how empathy has evolved over the past few years. While there have been many attempts to consider what role AI can play in empathy (with a little “e”) startup Empathy, said Gora, is a humanist for that aspect. The focus is on team retention. Service, focusing on tech rather than simply making certain busy and organizational tasks easier to handle in faster and more cost-effective, scalable ways.

“Delivering this service as a table stake to compassion for all life insurance policyholders would not be possible without intelligent technology,” Danny Reimer, a partner at Index, said in an interview. “There are many aspects that will be handled by individuals, but many tools will be provided [alongside that]… Practical things like being able to close bank or subscription accounts. AI can provide a lot of this replicable logic. It can also be helpful in writing testimonials.”

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

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