The policy software company, founded in 2013, is celebrating its 10-year milestone this summer. For founder and CEO Tim Hwang, the last decade has seen tremendous growth, a changing AI industry and huge financial moves. And for the local leader, the journey isn’t over yet, especially as generative AI takes over the world.
We at Technical.ly first wrote about FiscalNote in October of 2013, when it raised $1.2 million in a seed round from First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund, New Enterprise Associates and Mark Cuban — all before it even officially launched. But the company’s beginnings, as Hwang tells it, go back to three recent graduates who “just opened up our laptops and started coding” and lived out of a Motel 6 for the first year because they couldn’t afford rent.
Following that first round, Hwang said, the company grew to about 10 employees the following year and then to 30 in the year after that. From there, it upped to 80 and then 150 employees before reaching the mammoth near-800 global count it boasts as of 2023. At the same time, the company continued to raise, from $10 million in 2015 to $160 million in 2020.
“It was a very deliberate and linear growth in the business,” Hwang told Technical.ly.
In 2017, Hwang said FiscalNote leadership decided they wanted more scaled growth at the company and saw the opportunity for consolidating and acquiring “orphaned businesses.” Since then, the company has made more than 10 acquisitions, including CQ Roll Call, fellow Penn Quarter company Fireside, Australia’s TimeBase, Factba.se parent company FactSquared and the UK’s Oxford Analytica. These assets are spread across the US, Europe and Asia.
Such a global presence, Hwang said, is a far cry from the early days when many didn’t even understand what the AI-based software company did.
“I remember just pitching FiscalNote over and over and over again on startup pitch days, and in front of investors and bankers and executives and candidates, over and over and over and over again,” Hwang said. “And a lot of people didn’t get what we do.”
Now, FiscalNote alums are heading off and starting their own successful companies. Moreover, the market looks much different than it did when the company began: Hwang said that the last nine months saw an explosion of interest in AI from the public and customers — which hopefully puts FiscalNote at an advantage, as it’s worked with the technology for so long.
With that in mind, Hwang said he’s committed to remaining with the company, even after the IPO. He’d like to see FiscalNote grow to five or 15 times its current size and plans to continue expanding geographically, as well as digging further into its government business. He’d like to enhance some of FiscalNote’s existing platforms around key government challenges like misinformation — and he’s excited to see how public interest will help AI grow.
“Being an AI company pre-last year was a slog, for sure,” Hwang said. “Now, I think it’s just starting to get fun in terms of the level of interest and opportunities, and the potential of the marketplace overall.”
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