Grammarly Inc, one of the most valuable tech startups in the US, is continuing to pay full salaries and benefits to its employees based in Ukraine who have joined the country’s army to fight against the Russian invasion, the company’s chief executive officer said on March 21.
“The team is, first and foremost, focused on their safety,” CEO Brad Hoover said, declining to specify how many of his employees had joined Ukraine’s defense effort. Prior to the war, nearly half of Grammarly’s more than 600 staffers were based in Ukraine.
Hoover said many of those people have since left the country, or relocated to areas within Ukraine that are safer from conflict. Grammarly makes a typing assistant and was valued by investors at US$13bil (RM54.78bil) in November.
When the fighting started, its departments with operations in Ukraine shifted those responsibilities elsewhere within the company. Hoover said initially he spent a significant amount of time on relocation and relief efforts, and that a majority of the company’s Ukrainian workforce is now back online.
Grammarly also offered paid leaves of absence for workers who were forced to flee their homes because of the fighting. “This is destroying people’s lives,” Hoover said. “It’s an incredible tragedy.”
Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, Grammarly’s global head of product, said the company hasn’t changed its priorities as it makes second-quarter plans. But some progress on Grammarly’s goals may be slower than previously expected, he said.
Grammarly raised US$200mil (RM842.90mil) last fall from investors including funds managed by BlackRock Inc and Baillie Gifford & Co. Hoover said the funding round wasn’t intended as a top-off financing before an initial public offering, though an IPO or direct listing could be in the company’s future down the line.
Grammarly has been profitable “pretty much since inception”, he said. “We run ourselves like public company,” Hoover said. “Because we don’t need to IPO, we view that as something we can save for the future.” – Bloomberg