“Hello World!” 👋 Announcing Scribe and our $30M fundraise

“Hello World!” 👋 Announcing Scribe and our $30M fundraise
Jennifer Smith and Aaron Podolny, co-founders of Scribe

Today is a big day.  For the past 2+ years, we’ve been quietly building Scribe.  We haven’t talked publicly about our company or our mission; instead, we’ve been heads down, focused on building a product that knowledge workers use and love — not because anyone tells them to, but because it brings ease and joy to their days.  

We’re grateful that our users have rewarded this focus by sharing Scribe with their colleagues, customers, and friends.  By word-of-mouth only, Scribe has grown to be beloved by knowledge workers in 100+ countries across tens of thousands of organizations — from the earliest of startups, to schools and non-profit organizations, to Fortune 500 companies.  

We’ve built an incredible team of very talented humans that I feel privileged to work alongside every day, and quietly raised >$30M in funding.

Today, I’m excited to finally share our story.  We’re on a mission to enable everyone to be able to do and share their best work.  

We believe everyone is an expert.  Whether you’ve mastered a process, discovered a cool workaround, or found a faster way, you know how to do something no one else does. That know-how deserves to be shared and celebrated.  

We imagine a world where the best of what anyone knows how to do is available to everyone.  Instantly and automatically.  So every person, company, and community can do their best work, every day.  With a little more ease and joy.

I’m proud of what our team has built so far.  But this is just the beginning.  With our capital partnerships and expanding team, we are excited to accelerate our vision of making knowledge work just a little bit better for everyone.

Let’s get started 🚀

HOW IT BEGAN: A BRIEF HISTORY

It’s 10 years ago. Imagine you’re a leading global corporation, and you want to learn more about how work gets done at your company.  Maybe you need to scale rapidly, are facing a productivity imperative, or driving operational change post-merger.  What did you do?

Well, you probably hired some fancy consulting firm to come tell you. They’d interview your people, document what they do, and create powerpoint presentations on your best practices.  (Just think of the “Bobs” from Office Space.)

I’d know - I spent 7 years as a consultant at McKinsey & Company doing exactly that. I worked mostly in the org and operations practices, which meant 8 hours a day in ops centers documenting processes.  I quickly learned the name of the game was to find the best agent, sit next to them, and just ask them what they did differently.  And they’d tell me! “Oh, I was trained to do it this way but I found these 30 shortcuts.” And we’d dutifully write that up in powerpoint and sell that back to our clients.

But I always thought to myself - if these people had just had a platform to share what they had figured out how to do, they could have a really big impact on their ops center.  They didn’t need me and my team saying it for them.  This always kind of nagged at me, but I figured it was a problem someone else would inevitably solve some day.

Fast forward a decade and I’m working at Greylock Partners on Sand Hill Road.  I spent a lot of my time talking to buyers of enterprise software — CIOs, CDOs, or any CXO of Fortune 500 companies — to understand what they wanted and where they saw gaps.  (I counted - I talked to 1200+ CXOs, to be precise.)  And to my surprise, I realized that the state-of-the-art hadn’t really evolved.  If you wanted to improve your operations — you still had some version of a 28-year-old Jennifer with her Lenovo ThinkPad running around manually documenting processes to find best practices. (Maybe it’s someone internal and maybe they’re using a company wiki instead of powerpoint, but the task is just the same — highly manual and not scalable.)

And that was crazy to me.  

So much technological advancement in the world, and we still have not solved something that is so core, so fundamental, to how millions of people work every day.

SCRIBE ORIGINS

I’ve been obsessed with processes and efficiency for pretty much my whole life. I’m always trying to see if there’s a better, faster way to do something.  (I know, I’m a total hoot at parties.)   I remember a professor at HBS who advised: “find the thing you always have to apologize for about yourself, and turn that into your career.” For me, that’s always trying to optimize for the best way of doing something.

In 2019, in one of the great fortunes of my life, I was introduced to my now co-founder Aaron Podolny.  Anyone who has ever met Aaron can tell you pretty quickly that he is a gem of a human.  What might not be as immediately obvious is what an incredibly talented engineer and product builder Aaron is. (He might be the fastest builder I’ve ever seen.) We bonded over a shared passion in making people’s day-to-day work better — more satisfying, more human, with less annoying busywork.  Aaron had recently sold his automation company to Google, and was excited to once again build something from scratch.  

And the rest, as they say, is history.

OUR MISSION

Research (ironically, some from McKinsey after my time) estimates that knowledge workers spend about 20% of their time just trying to figure out how to do their jobs.  If you’ve ever operated in a company, you know this all too well.  

The time spent searching your company’s (stale) wiki, pinging a colleague, or leaning over the proverbial cubicle wall to ask: “wait, how do I do….?”

Or for the person on the other side - the time spent responding to emails or Slacks, hopping on a Zoom, or copy/pasting screenshots manually into a step-by-step guide in a Word or Google doc.

It’s disempowering to not have the info you need to do your best at your job.  Not only is it a daily annoyance for knowledge workers everywhere, it’s also a meaningful productivity drag for an organization.  Workers are not only annoyed and wasting time — they’re also re-inventing the wheel (likely sub-optimally) again and again.  And often, it’s the most productive workers who suffer the burden for their whole org or team.

We’ve all become so accustomed to this being the reality, that we’ve just accepted it.  But it’s a problem hiding in plain sight.

We decided to solve it with Scribe.

Our mission is to make it easy for anyone to share what they know how to do, in seconds. To help others and get recognized for their contributions (without it taking time away from their busy lives).  

Imagine a world where the best of what anyone knows how to do is available to everyone.  It would be an instant unlock - a step-change up-leveling of everyone to a better way of working.

Knowledge workers love to use Scribe because it helps them do and share their best work — so they can complete a task quickly and correctly and get on with their day, with the work that is the reason they get up in the morning.  They use it because it makes their day easier and better.  

And it just so happens that, by using Scribe, they also generate potentially millions of dollars of value for their organization.  

Just as code and media are infinitely scalable - so too are Scribes, within your organization or with your customers or broader community.

OUR NEXT CHAPTER

A common thread through my career is I’ve always tried to work with the smartest, most talented people I could find. That’s always served me well, and Scribe is no exception.

We’re here to build an enduring, independent company.  When we raised capital, it was important to me to partner with investors who shared our vision and would be with us for the long road ahead to accomplish our mission.  We’ve raised >$30M to date (read more about our funding news here).

Rather than speak to each and every wonderful person who has helped us and supported us on the journey, I’ll say something a bit simpler: Silicon Valley, you help lift people up.  One of the biggest rewards to me of building Scribe so far has been seeing how much people have showed up for us, in big ways and small.  A quick phone call, a helpful introduction, or just a message of encouragement all make a world of difference. It feels like we have an incredible army of people behind us, rooting for us and pulling for us. So I am just incredibly thankful for and humbled by the group supporting us making Scribe be everything it can be.

A few people I want to make sure to thank (in alphabetical order):

  • Alastair Trueger (angel)
  • Allison Pickens, former COO Gainsight (investor at New Normal Fund)
  • Ash Patel, Henry Sohn, Patrick McGill and the team at Morado Ventures
  • Ben Porterfield, Keenan Rice, Looker co-founders (angel)
  • Ben Tossell, Founder, Makerpad (angel)
  • Bobby Mehta, former CEO HSBC NA
  • Brandon Farwell (angel)
  • Chad Byers (angel)
  • Dan Portillo, Anthony Kline, Alexis Rask, Andrei Savu, and the team at SEV
  • David Ko, former COO Rally Health, Zynga (angel)
  • Eddie Vivas, CEO Curated (angel)
  • Eric Wu, CEO OpenDoor (angel)
  • Evan Feinberg and the team at Tiger Global
  • Ian Rountree, Cantos Ventures
  • Jeff Chung, Jerry Yang, and the team at AME Cloud Ventures
  • John Thompson, former Chairman of Microsoft (angel)
  • John Valentino (angel)
  • Jonathan Sills (angel)
  • Josh Rosenberg
  • Josh Stech, CEO Sundae (angel)
  • Justin Palmer, CEO TopFunnel
  • Kamal Shah, CEO Stackrox (angel)
  • Mike Dauber and the team at Amplify Partners
  • Nick Mehta, CEO Gainsight (angel)
  • Owen Brainard (angel)
  • Rajiv Gupta, CEO Skyhigh Networks (angel)
  • Ross Fubini, Chauncey Hamilton, Mars Garza and the team at XYZ Venture Capital
  • Scott Belsky, CPO Adobe (angel)
  • Semil Shah and the team at Haystack Ventures

Lastly and most importantly, our team at Scribe itself. I feel privileged to work with such exceptionally talented, scrappy, and kind humans every day.  I believe we win because of the quality of our team, and our leadership team is world-class. Team, you are what has made the journey so far so rewarding, and I’m so excited for what we build together next.

***

To our users, customers, and community -

If you’ve read this far...you are going to love what we’re building that we haven’t shown the world just yet. Thanks for being on the journey with us 🙏.  More soon…

(And if you haven’t tried Scribe yet - check it out here. It's free and takes less than 4 mins to sign-up and create your first scribe)

Onwards,

Jennifer