$47M Raised for AI Solutions in Practical and Emotional Bereavement: Empathy’s Latest Breakthrough

A startup called Empathy has built a platform to help navigate this tricky space, and now with some 40 million people using the platform it’s raised $47 million more in funding to grow. Further services will likely see more AI tools incorporated to guide people through the question of “what next” in the process of organizing things, Gura said. This round brings the total raised by Empathy to $90 million. Empathy is not disclosing its valuation, but we understand from sources close to the company that it’s now approaching $400 million. The rise of more sophisticated AI tooling, has played a role in how Empathy has evolved over the last couple of years.

Death, the famous inevitability of life, is a concept that is difficult to come to terms with. The grieving process is not only emotionally taxing, but also includes a multitude of practical tasks that must be managed, from funeral arrangements to financial matters. However, a startup by the name of Empathy has developed a platform that aims to ease this burden. With over 40 million users, the platform has recently secured $47 million in funding to further its growth.

The latest round of funding, a Series B, is led by Index Ventures with major insurance companies, including MassMutual Ventures, MetLife, New York Life, Securian, and Sumitomo, as strategic investors. While the company initially relied on a direct sales model, it has now shifted to a B2B2C approach, providing services through policies from employers and insurers, which make up 99% of its business.

The funding will be utilized to continue expanding the platform’s tools and to pursue its larger mission of redefining bereavement care, as stated by CEO Ron Gura, who founded the company alongside Yonatan Bergman.

“For Empathy to provide this service as table stakes for all life insurance policy holders, that would not be poss without intelligent technolgy,”

– Danny Rimer, Partner at Index

Currently, Empathy’s platform combines AI technology with human guidance to assist individuals with all aspects of the bereavement process. This includes counseling services, AI-generated obituaries, and services to assist in shutting down the numerous cloud services that the deceased may have used. The platform also helps with more complex financial affairs.

As the company continues to grow, more AI tools are expected to be incorporated to guide users through the often-overwhelming task of organizing the deceased’s affairs.

This latest round of funding brings Empathy’s total raised to $90 million. While the company has its roots in Israel and maintains its R&D operations there, its primary focus has been the U.S. market, where it primarily works with insurance companies and employers. To date, 5 million employees and 35 million policyholders are utilizing Empathy’s services, according to Gura.

Empathy’s entrance into the market was perfectly timed: it launched in the U.S. in 2021 during the peak of the pandemic, a time when mortality rates were at the forefront of people’s minds. This also happened to be a peak moment for venture funding, resulting in the company’s swift announcement of two funding rounds in its launch year: $13 million initially, followed by an additional $30 million just five months later.

While death rates in the U.S. have declined since the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, they still total over 3 million annually, as reported by the U.S. Census. Additionally, the average time needed to manage a deceased person’s affairs is over 420 hours. For most people, this process is unfamiliar until they are faced with it themselves.

Gura, a serial entrepreneur who previously founded a social commerce company sold to eBay (The Gifts Project) and held senior roles at WeWork, shared that a personal tragedy in his family inspired him to create Empathy.

“I didn’t know anything about estate planning but knew a lot about grief,”

– Ron Gura, CEO of Empathy

The use of more advanced AI technology has played a significant role in Empathy’s evolution over the past two years. While there have been numerous efforts focusing on the role of AI in empathy (with a lowercase “e”), Gura emphasized that the company remains committed to having a human team handle that aspect of its service. Instead, technology is utilized to simplify and streamline the more administrative and organizational tasks in a faster and more scalable manner.

Joining Index and the insurance companies in this round of funding were previous investors General Catalyst, Entrée Capital, Latitude (the sister fund of existing investor LocalGlobe), and Brewer Lane.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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