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Data-Driven Policy Tech Firm Civis Analytics Raises $31M

The young company, with roots in Barack Obama’s second presidential campaign, helps governments and others use data to make policy decisions. The new funding reflects the public sector’s rising use of such tools.

Rows of numbers representing a spreadsheet of data.
Civis Analytics, a data science company whose technology helps governments and other organizations shape policy, has raised $30.7 million in a Series B funding round.

The Chicago-based company launched in 2013 after founder and CEO Dan Wagner worked as chief analytics officer for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign. Governments use the company’s software to engage with citizens and analyze issues.

Roughly a third of the company’s business involves public agencies, said CFO Alan Fu. Nonprofits and other companies help round out the Civis Analytics client list.

“We don’t fundraise often,” Fu said, adding that the growing interest in cloud-based data analysis software — among the main trends when it comes to the business of government technology — served as a spark for this latest investment round.

The Civis platform is also undergoing the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) process, verifying that it meets a set of federal government security standards for cloud computing, another factor in attracting investment, he said.

This latest fundraising included Alumni Ventures, Drive Capital, Verizon Ventures, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Silicon Valley Bank.

The new capital arrives during a period of significant growth for the company, with revenue increasing 60 percent in 2020, when the company reported its first full-year profit. As well, the company over the last three years has quadrupled its government data science business, and the four largest cities in the U.S. use the Civis platform.

The state of Illinois is among the company’s government clients. The state used the software during the pandemic to test public health messages, said Alex Hanns, deputy press secretary for Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“The state has used Civis’ message testing tool to shape our COVID campaigns and ensure we were persuading the people who needed that extra push to wear a mask or get vaccinated,” he told Government Technology in an email interview. “By testing different topics and conducting ongoing surveys, Civis helps us find trends and uncover insights to ensure residents are following public health guidance.”

The data gained from the Civis tool helped the state decide how to target media and allocate advertising budgets, he said, as well as aiding the decision-making process for pandemic response leaders.

The fresh capital will go toward such tasks as marketing and brand building, and the hiring of engineers and other professionals, Fu said.

“We are looking to accelerate our growth and build on the success we’ve had with cities,” he said.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in New Orleans.
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