By Emma Hinchliffe
March 28, 2019

Ellevest’s mission has always been to create more wealth for women through its digital investment platform. In a $33 million funding round announced Thursday, the two-year-old startup brought on investors backing that mission, including former Obama White House advisor Valerie Jarrett and Melinda Gates’ firm Pivotal Ventures.

The investment is one of Pivotal Ventures’ first in a startup; Gates’ firm has mostly invested in funds that back women-led businesses. “When the status quo isn’t meeting women’s needs, it deserves to be disrupted, and that’s what this platform created by women for women aims to do,” Gates said in a statement. “Women’s lives and realities are different than men’s, and I think we’ll see more and more of a demand for products designed to reflect that. This is an important market opportunity that Ellevest is well-positioned to tap into.”

Ellevest started raising this funding round, a Series A extension, last fall but paused the effort in December amid market volatility, founder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck says. Returning investors Rethink Impact and PSP Growth led the funding round. Other new investors include PayPal; Mastercard; Google’s Eric Schmidt; GingerBread Capital, the firm investing in women-led businesses founded by Linnea Roberts; and Elaine Wynn, the co-founder of Wynn Resorts, which has faced a reckoning over sexual misconduct by its former CEO Steve Wynn, Elaine Wynn’s co-founder and ex-husband. (Steve Wynn has denied the claims.) “She’s a total badass who’s working to do the right things there,” Krawcheck said of how Wynn’s experience at the hotel chain influenced her interest in Ellevest.

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While Ellevest’s Series A was around the same size as this raise, the startup raised that round in two parts—making this $33 million round its biggest yet. A recent survey of female venture capitalists by the organization Women in VC found that only 30% were investing at the growth stage compared to 67% at the seed stage and 71% at Series A. Raising money through a network of female investors backing women-led companies has gotten more challenging as Ellevest moved into this larger round, Krawcheck says. “There is so much fantastic activity for women and allies investing in women at seed and Series A, and you get to bigger rounds and it gets to be a wasteland,” Krawcheck says.

Ellevest’s high net worth business now has $100 million in assets under management, and the company says it has clients in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, with an average age of 34. The company plans to use this capital to continue growing.

“I’m so pleased to support Ellevest as it leads the way to help women become financially stronger and meet their money goals,” Jarrett, who last year invested in another women-focused business, The Wing, said in a statement. “When women are stronger financially, that means a stronger economy and a stronger society.”

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