CRISIS TEXT LINE, a nonprofit that offers free, 24/7 text-message counseling for people in need, is getting millions from some of tech’s most recognizable names.
On stage at the WIRED Business Conference in New York, founder and CEO Nancy Lublin said the company raised nearly $24 million. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman led the funding, with additional participation from tech philanthropists Melinda Gates and Pierre Omidyar, as well as former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Altogether Crisis Text Line has raised $35 million.
Of course, these “investors” aren’t looking for an exit in the conventional sense. (“There is no equity; no possibility of a liquidity moment,” Lublin said.) But the venture-style approach makes sense in the context of the Crisis Text Line’s startup sensibility.
“We have the bones and minds of a tech startup,” Lublin said. “We solve problems with products.”
Eighty percent of Crisis Text Line’s texters are under 25, Lublin said. For people that age, messaging likely feels much more natural than making a phone call to a crisis hotline. Crisis Text Line also makes use of algorithms and machine learning to prioritize the most urgent queries—for instance, if someone texts that they’re considering suicide.
and a background story to this new service