Column raises $30M to modernize public notices and other archaic information systems
By Nancy Dahlberg
Column, a Miami-based tech startup that streamlines the placement of public notices, secured a $30 million Series A round led by Lux Capital.
“Column is on a mission to make public information systems more valuable, beginning with public notice,” said founder and CEO Jake Seaton, in the announcement. “This latest round of fundraising positions our team to continue building the company and the products we — and the folks using our tools — have dreamed about.”
Seaton comes from a five-generation media family with deep roots in the American Midwest and wanted to tackle something that would help the future of the struggling media industry. He incubated the concept for Column at the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and launched Column in 2020.
In its quest to make it more efficient for entities to place public notices, which is still too dependent on manual processes, Column rolled out cutting-edge, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant statewide databases with advanced tech tools making it easy to search and work with the public information. The startup, a public benefit corporation, provides its software for free to newspaper publishers and charges a small processing fee on top of the transaction paid by governments, law firms and other entities placing public notices. Its core product is live in all 50 states, Canada and the UK. Column has about 50 employees across five continents, and Seaton and some of the team are based in Miami.
Seaton would not disclose revenues, but in a May interview, he said Column has grown an average of 20% month over month since its launch in September 2020 and gross transaction volume tripled in Q1 of this year.
“We’re not sexy like a crypto or an NFT venture,” he said in my recent Miami Herald interview. “We’re very focused on the very hard work of improving processes within local media organizations and the local governments and legal service professionals that they work with.”
Column plans to use the funding to scale its core public notice product, publicly deploy its Column API that is already in use in 18 states, including Florida, and expand Column’s offerings to digitize other outdated public information systems, such as government procurement processes. “We’re currently piloting services for Procurement Officers placing RFP notices to administer additional steps in the procurement process, for Trustees placing Sheriff Sale notices to manage virtual auctions, and for citizens placing a Notice to Creditors to utilize real estate services for the sale of a property — all within the Column software,” according to the announcement.
The round brings Column’s total funding raised to date to $33.3 million. Participants in the round include seed investors Amity Ventures and Govtech fund, as well as angel investors from the media, tech and government worlds, including former Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, Reuters News President Paul Bascobert, former Stripe COO Claire Hughes, and former McClatchy President Craig Forman.
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Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at email@example.com