All You Need Is Friends, Front’s Latest Round Filled By A-List Software Entrepreneurs

When co-founder and CEO Mathilde Collin went looking for investment funding for her fledgling tech firm, she wasn’t shopping it around to the usual venture investors. Her email collaboration company Front Inc. had already raised approximately $79 million from venture capital rock stars like Sequoia Capital, Social Capital, and Uncork Capital. Still, she wanted something different for this round.

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Instead of treading the well-worn path of venture funding, the Silicon Valley CEO turned to successful software entrepreneurs to help her raise capital. The idea for tapping into the wealth of knowledge and resources of fellow founders came from Jared Smith, Qualtrics co-founder, who approached Collin about making a personal investment in her cooperative email platform.

“We’re all tackling a problem that we all care about,” says CEO Ryan Smith, co-founder of Qualtrics and brother to Jared Smith. “And if you look at how bad…. email is, but it consumes hours and hours of our day, we all want to be more productive. That’s why we’re all going pretty heavily into this.”

Smith came to know about Front through his former Google coworker Bryan Schreier, who currently serves as a partner with Sequoia Capital. Smith saw Front’s potential and knew he wanted to be part of Collin’s email revolution. Atlassian’s co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, Okta’s co-founder Frederic Kerrest, two of Qualtric’s founders, and Zoom video-conferencing software CEO Eric Yuan also joined the funding round after being approached by the Parisian-born CEO.

Front’s genius lies within its singular purpose and streamlined function. Unlike online messaging alternative Slack, it doesn't want email to go extinct. Collin's company wants to make the much-dreaded inbox a collaborative communication experience. The technology offers its suite of services such as group-editing, collaboration, and sharing tools within inboxes. Email is a pain-point for many businesses, and the cloud company’s sales numbers reflect how much her customers appreciate what the tools can do.

"If you look at the number of messages sent and received, it keeps increasing year over year," said Collin. "People see that Slack is successful, but we can see there's an opportunity that is even bigger."

Freeing enterprises from the shackles of their inefficient inboxes has been profitable for Front's co-founders. Revenue has quadrupled over the last two years with sales in the tens of millions of dollars. With clients like Cisco,, and Shopify signing on, the email startup is seeing explosive growth in customers – more than doubling its numbers from 2,500 to 5,500. Forbes recognized Front as one of its ‘Next Billion-Dollar startups 2019’ and was recently estimated at an $800 million valuation, although Front declined to comment.

Prior to the San Francisco-based company's current accolades and honors, Collin took her startup through Silicon Valley's elite accelerator, Y Combinator, in 2014. Beyond blowing away all expectations, the seed-starter adopted Front's technology, and email response time became 7x faster.