Kong Secures $1.4 Billion Valuation to Build Connection for Apps

Covid-19 has made plenty of things hard. Raising venture capital isn’t one of them, said Kong Inc. Chief Executive Officer Augusto Marietti.

“The amount of volume you can do is huge,” Marietti said in a recent interview. “It was like online poker with each Zoom. Next. Next. Next.”

Kong Secures $1.4 Billion Valuation to Build Connection for Apps

Marietti said he spent five days in December at his dining room table in what were essentially back-to-back calls on Zoom. He raised $100 million at a $1.4 billion valuation for his software company and said he turned down offers from investors for an additional $180 million because he didn’t want to sell more shares.

Marietti is one of more than 300 startup founders to raise a round of $100 million or larger in 2020, part of a trend that pushed total venture funding to an historic high of $130 billion. Not having to drive up and down Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley or fly to New York for in-person meetings saved tremendous time, he said.

Tiger Global led Kong’s round as a new investor along with Goldman Sachs Group inc. Existing backers including Index Ventures, Charles River Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz also participated.

Kong sells an API platform to developers. The technology provides a backbone that enables and directs connections within mobile apps for location, payment, security and other features. Like Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com Inc.’s MuleSoft and other competitors, Kong is popular with developers because it allows them to build apps more quickly and securely. An API, or application programming interface, is a piece of software that lets apps communicate with each other.

The San Francisco-based company will use the recent funding to double its workforce to 400, with new “Kongers” being hired regardless of where they live. Marietti said along with a better way to raise funds, the pandemic brought the realization that work can be done anywhere, even amid a surge in business from customers like pizza chain Papa John’s, which overhauled its app for increased mobile orders.

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