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October 18, 2010

Causes – Spreading Philantropy Online

Filed under: Start-up Companies Reviews — Tags: , , , — admin @ 2:12 am

Founded in May 2007 by Sean Parker and Joe Green, Causes applies viral principles to social causes and altruism. Users are helped to leverage social sites such as Facebook to raise money for charity. Causes primarily existed as a Facebook canvas application; at the moment it is also running off its own website, that is, Causes.com. The decision to make their service public via Facebook instead of launching their own website from the beginning was made due to the huge active user base of Facebook , users that were very likely to become actively involved in causes they believed in.

The start-up was initially called Project Agape. In the first year there were 12 million users registered and 80,000 non-profit causes supported worldwide. When a cause was created or joined by someone, their friends could see it in the news feed. Money donated by other recruited users would also appear in the money raised total of the ”recruiter”. The belief that drove this social causes initiative was that in a healthy society, anybody should be able to inform and inspire others. More than $27 million has already been donated through the application and users have created over 390,000 causes on various topics such as cancer research or supporting local parks.

According to TechCrunch, the start-up has raised $9 million in Series C funding round from NEA, Founders Fund, Dustin Moskovitz, Marc Benioff, Keith Rabois, Ron Conway and Karl Jacob. The money will be used for building out the company’s team, currently consisting of seventeen people. The total amount raised by Causes so far is over $16 million and it includes a $5 million Series B round that was previously unannounced. Closed in March 2008, the round was led by Case Foundation and MCJ Foundation. Founders Fund also participated.

Joe Green, Co-Founder of Causes, was Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s college roomate. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in Social Studies. Joe’s passion for building online tools has its roots in his offline experience as a political campaign organizer. Before Causes, Joe Green founded Essembly, which is a non-partisan networking site dedicated to debates of political issues.

Sean Parker, Chairman and Co-Founder of Causes, was Facebook’s founding President and also co-founded Napster and Plaxo, genre-defining companies that aim at reinventing the way information is spread online. Napster was founded at the age of 19, changing the way people used to share music. Plaxo pioneered viral engineering technology that was meant to update contact information According to him, a good viral idea can be stopped only when it runs out of population. of launching turning a technology start-up into an industry giant. Parker is also a Managing Partner of Founders Fund, supporting the spirit of innovation in other developers.

Learn more about Causes from their website.

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