A significant changing of the guard is underway at GoFundMe, the popular charitable and causes-based online giving platform that has generated $9 billion from 120 million donations globally to date. The company is announcing that Rob Solomon, who has been the CEO of GoFundMe for the last five years, is stepping down from the role and is getting replaced by Tim Cadogan, currently the CEO of programmatic advertising platform OpenX. Solomon is staying on as chairman after the transition.
The news is being shared with employees today, and the change is effective on March 2. Cadogan is leaving his role on February 14 and will be replaced by John Gentry, who is currently president at the ad company.
Solomon and Cadogan said today there are no plans to change GoFundMe’s strategy with the switch of CEOs. “This is a deepening investment in our strategy,” said Cadogan. “We are keeping our DNA as a company and looking for ways to continue to make that even more effective and widely available.”
It may not seem completely obvious what the expertise link might be between programmatic advertising and a causes-based online donation platform — the two would seem like they belong to very different realms of the online universe — but actually there are a couple of ways in which the change makes some sense.
GoFundMe has mostly made its name through peer-to-peer donations around personal causes — where Solomon estimates it has around an 80% share in its home market, and close to that in others. In recent years, it’s been working on expanding that by changing the business model underpinning the P2P model by eliminating fees and switching to a donation model and adding in new features like team fundraising; and, more importantly, turning on the taps for working with larger charities, a market that’s estimated to raise some $500 billion in donations annually (that figure clearly dwarfs the $9 billion GoFundMe has generated in donations across the lifetime of the platform).
B2B businesses — that is, selling to business and enterprise customers — is what Cadogan has essentially been focused on while building the programmatic business at OpenX, and that is the expertise they are hoping to bring to bear as GoFundMe enters its next phase of growth.
There is also an interesting common place of employment that Solomon and Cadogan share: both worked together at Yahoo many years ago (so I guess that makes three of us, when you remember that TC and Yahoo are now, basically, sister companies).
GoFundMe’s deeper move into B2B has been a long time in the making.
In October, GoFundMe launched Charity, a new fundraising platform specifically targeting nonprofit organisations. Built on its 2017 acquisition of CrowdRise, Charity let nonprofits continue to build campaigns on GoFundMe but also, for the first time, start to create ways of building GoFundMe-powered donations off of GoFundMe’s own site. “Since we launched Charity, we have had thousands of charities sign up using our tools,” said Solomon. “We’re just getting started but are really pleased with the progress.”
While Cadogan has some strategic expertise in B2B, he said there is more to his taking on this new role.
“This is a chance to get back to building a great consumer product,” said Cadogan, who has a long track record across both the B2B and consumer spaces. “I’ve been an ad guy but previously I was a consumer guy.” Also attractive, he added, is the unique position of GoFundMe in the consumer internet space. “The social purpose is incredibly rare and unique, the chance to get to help to work on something that helps is a big factor.”
The company has only ever disclosed one funding round, in 2015 — an undisclosed amount that valued GoFundMe at $500 million — but it has been profitable since its earliest days, has been growing at a very steady pace, and is thought to be far more valuable than that today.
Solomon said that while an IPO remains an option for liquidity longer term, so does M&A or even the private equity market.
“When you think about our investors,” — which include Accel, Greylock and TCV –“they are investing in companies they have conviction around. They are very patient and want us to be a category-defining company, the giving layer of the internet. So as we continue to build the platform, we have no plans to do anything for a number of years.”