The Kindbody TC-1

It’s telling of our maturity as a society that infertility is a concept approached rarely with anything but awkwardness and uncertainty.

The ability to have children is integral to our society, but when someone faces infertility, support systems can prove scarce, fertility services can make patients feel adrift, mental health support is rare, patient education is abysmal and costs are obfuscated; the list goes on and on.

Fear, uncertainty and doubt rule in the realm of reproductive healthcare, and it’s beyond any one person or company to remedy this.

Kindbody, however, is trying. The women behind this startup know first hand how harrowing the fertility journey can be, and they have put together a platform that confronts and addresses its problems head-on.

The startup’s clinics are modern and inviting, its doctors eschew traditional white coats to meet their patients eye-to-eye, it builds mental health plans for every patient, its website is clean, informative and actually has prices clearly outlined so patients can plan for the expenses. Kindbody’s desks even sport rounded corners in an effort to remove hierarchy from the care.

The company is attacking the fertility market from many angles, but its focus is clear: making the patient feel acknowledged, cared for and comfortable. And that approach has paid off — the company has raised $154.7 million so far, and its business is booming at its facilities across the United States.

Kindbody’s valuation comfortably gives it unicorn status, but in the realm of fertility, the company may truly be a unicorn.

TechCrunch’s writer and analyst for this TC-1 is Rae Witte. She has written extensively on technology, business and culture for publications like TechCrunch as well as the Wall Street Journal, Vogue Business, and our corporate sister publication, Engadget. The lead editor of this package was Ram Iyer, the series editors were Henry Pickavet and Alex Wilhelm, the copy editor was Richard Dal Porto and original illustrations were created by Nigel Sussman.

Kindbody had no say in the content of this analysis and did not get advance access to it. Witte has no financial ties to Kindbody or other conflicts of interest to disclose.

The Kindbody TC-1 comprises three main articles numbering 8,200 words and a reading time of about 30 minutes. Here’s what’s in the bank:

We’re always iterating on the TC-1 format. If you have questions, comments or ideas, please send an email to TechCrunch+ Editor-in-Chief Alex Wilhelm at

How compassion and inclusivity are helping Kindbody change the fertility industry

When the topic of fertility comes up, we often hear hushed tones discussing someone else’s or their own journey through infertility. Sure, celebs have begun talking about it, but we’re rarely taught about it in health class. Nor is it typically a topic of discussion over holiday hors d’oeuvres.

At a time when the world is fighting inequities around health and welfare, reproductive healthcare continues to be largely ignored in the conversation. The science and medicine around fertility are presented with an air of complexity that, more often than not, leaves patients feeling lost, scared and alone.

To change a system that’s reactionary instead of proactive is far from simple. To even make marginal improvement, one would need to thread the needle of education, accessibility and perhaps place compassion over profits and growth.

Kindbody appears to be one of the few startups in the space well on its way to tackling this behemoth of a challenge. Its approach is also drastically different from most fertility service providers — it has savvy, intelligent marketing; a tech-enabled and fully virtual care facility; a focus on compassion; and ample customer education to help patients feel involved and understood.

The company today has 12 outlets in ten cities in the U.S. and is fast ramping up its scaling efforts with over $154 million raised so far. Aiming to be a one-stop shop for fertility, gynecological and wellness services, Kindbody provides services to heterosexual couples, single mothers by choice and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Gina Bartasi launched Kindbody, her third fertility startup, in 2018, after her own journey helped her understand just how broken and antagonistic the system is. With an eye toward inclusivity, holistic care and reducing the friction in the patient process, Bartasi and her team have created one of the few companies in healthcare making a difference.

The first thing I noticed on my fertility journey was that every physician I saw in the fertility industry was an older white male. Gina Bartasi, founder of Kindbody

In this first part of this TC-1, we’ll explore Bartasi’s journey, the problems in the fertility space, the difference that clear pricing and communication can make, and how eliminating the white coats and display of degrees around the offices has helped Kindbody become one of the preferred destinations for fertility treatments.

Addressing how we approach fertility

Bartasi originally ran a media company in Atlanta, but sold it after getting married and relocating to New York City to be with her husband. When she was 38, she and her husband decided to start trying to have a baby, and, like many women a decade ago, were met with an experience that was far from the warmth and care one would expect at such an intimate time.

“The first thing I noticed on my fertility journey was that every physician I saw in the fertility industry was an older white male,” she told me. “I was treated as a subordinate, like the doctor was all-knowing and our mission was to do exactly what he said, even though I was paying $25,000, whether or not I had any success.”

Gina Bartasi, founder of Kindbody

Gina Bartasi, founder of Kindbody. Image Credits: Kindbody

This experience prompted her to launch her first fertility startup in 2008, Fertility Authority, a content platform and fertility clinic review website for those facing infertility.

A few years later, in 2015, the company was renamed Progyny after it was bought by Kleiner Perkins and TPG Biotech. The content platform was maintained, but the company’s focus pivoted to selling fertility benefits to self-insured employers.

While a fertility insurance solution seemed like a great idea, the reality of how healthcare is set up in the U.S. made for some significant roadblocks.

Why focusing on holistic care helped Kindbody triple its revenue in 2021

One story from The Verge referred to Kindbody as the “SoulCycle” of fertility, pointing out that it sells fertility services and “empowerment” to 25-year-olds. It’s kind of a stretch, but I can see how the company could be compared to the aesthetic-driven facade of The Wing.

Kindbody isn’t solely selling a dream of belonging, however — there is a large focus on the consumerism of patient care. By concentrating on helping its patients feel like they have agency over their fertility journeys, Kindbody is trying to fit into the lives of those wanting to get pregnant.

“When you build businesses you have to think about how consumers behave today and what’s changed in the last five years or 10 years or 15 years,” Kindbody founder and chairwoman Gina Bartasi said. “And consumers crave and receive content.”

She recognizes how different the space is now compared to when she went through her own fertility journey.

“I think the hardest part is adapting, whether it’s adapting the media or adapting to healthcare,” she said. “You constantly have to have this circle and loop back with your customer and customer behavior and how that’s changed. And in healthcare, of course, your customer is the patient.”

Over the last decade, our lives have changed exponentially due to the easy access to information via social media platforms, and the COVID-19 pandemic only added a feeling of perpetual uncertainty. Businesses shut down for months at the top of 2020, schools have oscillated between mandating physical attendance and holding virtual classes nationwide, and offices that once forbade remote work have been introduced to hybrid setups like “hoteling.”

“The majority of patients need flexibility in their calendars,” Bartasi said. “I think, historically speaking, in health care, the patient did whatever the doctor did, whatever the doctor told them to do, and at Kindbody the patient is in charge, not necessarily the doctor.”

You can see this approach in nearly all of Kindbody’s services. Not only does Kindbody want to cater to how its potential patients carry on their lives, it wants them to have a familiar experience as well. Open Kindbody’s website, and you’ll find a templatized, user-friendly landing page with photos of well-designed offices and links to its social media. It’s a familiar look for the 2020s at this point, and that’s intentional.

At the end of the day, you can have the best technology and the best data, but [patients] are still at home crying; it sucks and [they] can’t get out of bed in the morning. Barbara Collura, president of Resolve

With both B2B and B2C income streams, this company is trying to significantly disrupt the women’s healthcare space by focusing on educating, helping patients feel cared for and offering solutions to major pain points through employer-provided benefits.

As Bartasi mentioned in part 1 of this TC-1, she felt like she was treated as the subordinate to the doctor throughout her fertility journey, and her team at Kindbody has put in a lot of work to avoid that.

“It’s really a broken system”

Thanks to the nature of their relationships with the space, both Bartasi and Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, Kindbody’s current chief innovation officer and an experienced board-certified OBGYN, are familiar with the challenges of the fertility journey from two different perspectives — the patient and the provider. They found that the overarching challenge, which ultimately makes every step of this process more difficult, is the fragmentation of care.

Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, Kindbody’s current chief innovation officer

Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, Kindbody’s chief innovation officer. Image Credits: Kindbody

“It’s really a broken system, and it’s a system that in no way, shape or form is based on proven human health nor on being proactive,” said Dr. Sasan. “It’s a 100% reactionary system. I was taught that you wait for a woman to prove that she’s not fertile and she has to prove her infertility diagnosis before you start doing testing and see if that’s what the problem may be.”

This reactionary approach is something she’s always felt needed to be corrected. She offers examples of how other ailments or potential health problems are addressed with the aim to prevent rather than cure.

“You do stress tests so that someone doesn’t have a heart attack. We do mammograms to detect breast changes before someone has breast cancer.” But when it comes to infertility, patients have to prove they are experiencing it before it can be addressed. She believes that the teaching and, subsequently, the care, have not caught up with the technology available for patients.

“If you think about the advancements that have been in this field, whether it’s the first egg-freezing or hormone-testing, like for the Anti-Müllerian hormone, and even the capabilities of ultrasound and sonogram, the teachings haven’t changed.”

Chipping away at the problems of reproductive healthcare, one patient at a time

One in eight couples, single parents by choice and much of the LGBTQ+ population in the United States seek out fertility services. Studies have shown that women experiencing infertility have experienced depression levels comparable to those receiving a cancer or HIV diagnosis.

This is all aligned with a much larger issue: The dismal state of maternal and child care in the United States.

In 2018, at 17 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births, the U.S. mortality rate was double that of France and Canada, and nearly triple the number in the U.K. Moreover, mortality rates spike significantly for Black women, at 34 per every 100,000. According to the CDC, 60% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable.

Countries like Italy and Hungary offer some of the longest periods of leave, with five months covering 80% of wages and 100% of wages for 24 weeks, respectively. Twelve weeks is a popular timeframe with varying amounts of the wages during that time covered by the employer, social security or both, but countries like Pakistan, Mexico and India all cover 100% for the period.

Without fertility services, any unexpected tests or NICU visits, on average, it costs between $5,000 and $11,000 to have a baby (without a C-section) in the U.S. That is just for the birth. While Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, California and New York have state-sanctioned paid maternity leave, there is no federal mandate that applies countrywide.

Barbara Collura, president of Resolve, a non-profit founded to bring together women facing infertility, says individuals and couples often come to Resolve with a huge lack of understanding around an infertility diagnosis and what happens next. For people on these journeys, looking for answers often only leads the way to more questions.

“They certainly don’t know that their insurance may not cover things like egg donation or IVF,” she says. “Or they certainly don’t know the cost of gestational surrogacy and all this involved with that.”

Patients often have to learn about all this while having to make decisions, without much direction on where to go for resources beyond an OBGYN.

To produce a baby, a sperm, an egg and a uterus are necessary. Collura says in addition to figuring out what patients are working with on that front, they also have to consider finances and the route to take in order to have a baby.

“There are a lot of people who can’t afford what their best course of action is. So, the most affordable care may be subpar, but something they can afford. It’s a strange type of medical care where the people need it, but this cost issue plays into a very convoluted, not cookie-cutter path,” she says.

The spillover effects of poor education

“Notoriously across all cultures, women’s health is not talked about,” Kindbody’s chief medical officer and co-founder Dr. Fahimeh Sasan says.

“There’s just a lack of information out there. For example, up to 40% of the pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first trimester. The majority of women, when they have a miscarriage, truly think they’re the only one, and then they usually will come back to me and say they had a miscarriage, and five of their friends have, and they never discussed it.”

Dr. Sasan pointed to Michelle Obama as a glaring example of how women are taught not to talk about infertility. “She was a very popular First Lady, and during the entire presidency, never shared how she actually had miscarriages and that her daughters are a product of IVF. This never came out until she released her autobiography.”

In the United States, sexual education and/or HIV education is only required in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Of those, only 18 states require the information to be medically correct.

This manifests a vast gap in scientifically accurate information not only for those trying to conceive, but for policymakers as well, subsequently contributing to the condition of reproductive and maternal care in the U.S.

Americans cited medical reasons, their partner and expenses, but they also said the pandemic illuminated the lack of easy access to healthcare as reservations for having children. Birth rates in the U.S. hit a record low in 2020, dropping 4% from a year earlier following a steady decline since the 2008 recession. Population growth in 2021 is set to hit record lows with how COVID-19 has significantly inflated the death rate.

Within the country’s two-party system — Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal — this lack of baseline factual scientific education around reproductive health and all it encompasses affords a lot of leeway for decisions around state sanctions to be informed by beliefs rather than biology.

And we’re beginning to see the implications of policing women’s bodies.

The Bowery Farming TC-1

Farming is the most fundamental activity of civilization. Efficient, reliable and abundant food allows the great majority of people today to eschew cultivating plants and raising livestock and instead pursue every other activity that makes up an economy. It’s also an enterprise that has seen extensive innovation over the millennia, and farming has never been more efficient than it is today.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer enough.

The skyrocketing global human population — expected to hit 10 billion sometime this century — coupled with the accelerating effects of the climate crisis are leading to a decisive crossroads: How can the world continually increase food production while also mitigating its overall environmental impact?

A growing chorus of researchers, activists and entrepreneurs believe that at least part of the solution is vertical, indoor farming. Once derided for tasteless vegetables and wild-eyed (read: unprofitable) schemes, vertical farms are increasingly compelling thanks to progressive technological improvements and more efficient designs.

While dozens of vertical farms have sprouted in the past decade, few have attracted the amount of attention that Manhattan-headquartered Bowery Farming enjoys. Founded in 2014, the company has raised nearly $500 million in venture capital — most recently at a $2.3 billion valuation — and is expanding from two experimental grow facilities to multiple scaled-up production hubs as it serves its leafy greens to customers at more than 850 grocery stores. The question the company asks is simple: Can it bring the newest and most innovative technologies to bear on civilization’s oldest and most optimized industry?

Answering that question in this TC-1 is Brian Heater, TechCrunch’s hardware editor. Heater has been writing about hardware and robotics for more than a decade and also hosts our annual TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics conference. As we’ll see shortly, hardware and robotics are key to making the Bowery model work at scale, profitably. The lead editor for this package was Danny Crichton, the assistant editor was Ram Iyer, the copy editor was Richard Dal Porto and illustrations were created by Nigel Sussman.

Bowery Farming had no say in the content of this analysis and did not get advance access to it. Heater has no financial ties to Bowery Farming.

The Bowery Farming TC-1 comprises four main articles measuring 11,100 words and 44 minutes of reading time. Here are the topics we’ll be uprooting:

  • Part 1: Origin storyBowery Farming is forcing us all to look up at the future of vertical agriculture” (3,500 words/14 minutes) — explores the evolution of vertical farming, it’s expansion in Japan and how Bowery Farming was started to bring indoor farming to the masses in the United States.
  • Part 2: Produce developmentHacking lettuce for taste and profit” (2,500 words/10 minutes) — evaluates how Bowery collects data from its farms in order to optimize flavor while also potentially expanding its produce line into new categories like strawberries and turnips.
  • Part 3: Agtech engineeringCan LEDs ultimately replace the sun?” (2,100 words/8 minutes) — investigates two of the most important questions about Bowery Farming: Can it develop a competitive moat with its technology (which it dubs BoweryOS) and just how much environmental benefit can the company derive from its farms?
  • Part 4: Branding, finances and competitive landscapeThe voracious fight for your salad bowl” (3,000 words/12 minutes) — looks at the extremely competitive nature of the produce section at the grocery store and how Bowery intends to build a brand with consumers while finding a route to profitability.

We’re always iterating on the TC-1 format. If you have questions, comments or ideas, please send an email to TechCrunch Managing Editor Danny Crichton at

Bowery Farming is forcing us all to look up at the future of vertical agriculture

Food is the very nourishment of life, but it’s also becoming increasingly challenging to grow at scale. A combination of explosive and unsustainable population growth, human-made climate change and depleted sources of clean water is contributing to overcultivation across the world.

For its many advocates, vertical farming is a critical piece to solving that puzzle, even as skeptics cite its intensive power demands as a major hurdle toward achieving the long-term positive climate impact it promises.

Existential crises of climate change and substantial food shortages have fueled interest in alternative forms of food production, while innovations in technology have created the potential for delivering those ideas at scale.

The pursuit of sustainability was a key catalyst in the formation of Bowery Farming — and, for that matter, the development of vertical farming as a whole. Global climate disasters have spurred companies and governments to increasingly explore large-scale solutions, and that’s why increasingly bullish investors are pumping money into the space — the company raised a $300 million round this May.

Companies like Bowery have captured the imagination of the public for the role they might eventually play in helping reshape the 10,000-year-old practice of agriculture. It’s big talk, but it’s unsurprising in a world inexorably drawn to the notion that the solution to righting the wrongs of decades of harmful technologies can be found in technology itself. It’s a hopeful thought.

In the first part of this TC-1, I will look at the origins of Bowery Farming as well as the vertical farming movement as a whole. I’ll also discuss how Japan’s 2011 tragic earthquake catalyzed interest in the model and also explore how these new approaches to agriculture could usher in critical changes on an Earth with rapidly changing climates.

We’re not in Kansas anymore

The best way to understand a farm is to visit it, so I set up a tour to see what Bowery is building. I intend to arrive early, making some vague plans to walk to a nearby coffee shop, set up camp with caffeine and Wi-Fi, and prep for the day. As we approached the destination, however, that plan is quickly scrapped.

As the crow flies, Bowery Farming’s Kearny, New Jersey R&D center is roughly five miles from Manhattan, but the surrounding neighborhood contains none of the trappings of bustling city life. Just industrial warehouses and little else as far as the eye can see.

Hacking lettuce for taste and profit

“The first thing you notice is just the smell,” chief science officer of Bowery Farming Henry Sztul says excitedly. “It’s got that smell, right?”

There’s a kind of visceral sense memory that hits you as you enter Farm Zero, a Proustian moment that overtakes the senses after years of living in a major city. It smells like greenhouses and grow rooms: fresh, alive and a dramatic contrast from the world immediately outside the building here in Kearny, New Jersey.

Years of indoor farming breakthroughs have made it possible for leafy greens to be grown at larger and larger scales — and, eventually, at a profit.

As I walk through Bowery Farming’s three active vertical farm and research facilities, my mind is teeming with questions about climate change and the potential of sustainable vertical farming. Yet, when it comes right down to it, it’s the taste and, yes, that smell that will drive the company’s — and the industry’s — success.

We’re decked out in clean room coveralls and hairnets. Watches and jewelry are off, the soles of our shoes still damp from standing in sanitizing solution. “In here, we have a fully enclosed environment,” Sztul continues. “We control temperature, humidity, CO2, water flow, nutrients, light levels. When I say light levels I mean the color of the light spectrum, the intensity of the light, the photo period, the day/night cycles.”

Unlike traditional software products, inventing produce is an entirely different endeavor. Perturbations in the inputs of Bowery’s vertical farm can lead to radically different flavor profiles in the leafy greens it distributes.

In the second part of this TC-1, I’ll look at how the company experiments in Farm Zero and what it dubs Farm X, how it develops new produce lines as it expands outside of leafy greens and how it transforms farm work for the urban 21st century while scaling up at its newer Farm One production facility.

Tilling concrete

The smell is the first sense to hit, but it’s the visual that really grabs you. Right in front of me are the grow systems that give vertical farming its name. It’s a kind of scaffolding setup with row atop row of leafy greens nestled in long trays and lit by bright LEDs. PVC piping snakes up and down, delivering the water that cycles through the systems — saving 15 to 20 million gallons of water per farm over traditional growing each year, according to the company’s estimates.

Grow trays bask in light at Bowery Farming. Image Credits: Brian Heater

This entire room is part of one closed irrigation system, circulating the nutrient-rich liquid to all the plants. Bowery says that even the water lost from natural plant perspiration can be captured with its HVAC system and recirculated back into the loop.

The glowing lights are a stark contrast to the gloomy industrial park outside, but even indoors, the visual is somewhat difficult to reconcile. The little pods of bright green vegetation exist in almost a laboratory setting, a strange juxtaposition of the natural and the synthetic that speaks to the heart of what vertical farming attempts to do — effectively hacking 10,000 years of agricultural knowledge.

Can LEDs ultimately replace the sun?

Agriculture has a 10,000-year history, and it’s predominantly a history of technology. Developments from the plow and wheel to enclosures and the modern mechanical miracles of gas-powered tractors and sorters have consistently improved crop yields, allowing humanity to expand from tens of millions of people to a global population projected to top 10 billion this century.

When it comes to the next stages of that long course of innovation, vertical farming would seem to have all the right properties. Precise controls backed by data analysis can calibrate food quality, leading to further improvements in yields while reducing raw inputs like water. That’s critical at a time when the world’s climate is increasingly at a breaking point.

The energy efficiency of lamps or production systems can be improved, but not infinitely, so indoor crops will always be heavily dependent on electricity and other industrial support.

For Bowery Farming, no technology is too small to optimize, and no data is too insignificant to track. Combined together, the startup hopes to orchestrate the future of farming — and build a competitive moat in the process. To ultimately create a company of value, it needs to not just build differentiated technology but also build a brand with consumers, which we’ll turn to in the final part of this TC-1.

In parts one and two, I covered the history of vertical farming, Bowery’s origins and how it develops produce. In this third part, I’ll look at the company’s core tech infrastructure, explore how developments of just one component, LEDs, made vertical farming viable and investigate just how much climate savings Bowery can be expected to wring out as it grows in scale.


We can’t understand Bowery without describing BoweryOS. It’s the secret sauce that ties its automated systems, sensors and data collection together into a central nervous system. The company is tight-lipped about specifics but notes that it unlocks the ability to rapidly replicate its growth system at new farms.

“You could be the greatest farmer in the world in Salinas Valley, and I pick you up and bring you to New Jersey and that knowledge doesn’t transfer,” says Irving Fain, founder and CEO of Bowery Farming. “You put the Bowery operating system inside of that farm, and that farm now has the knowledge and understanding of every crop we’ve ever grown and every process we’ve ever run immediately available to it. In essence, what we’re really doing is building a distributed network of farms, whereby every new farm that enters that network benefits from the collective knowledge of the network that came before it.”

The voracious fight for your salad bowl

There are several plastic clamshells sitting in front of me on a conference room table — around 20 or so boxes, labels facing forward, with a plate of turnips and a tub of those R&D strawberries we saw back in part two.

It’s a nice photo opportunity, backdropped by Bowery Farming’s impressive grow system and a good visual representation of the product’s life cycle. More importantly, it’s a reminder of how most people will ultimately interact with the company.

Bowery’s clamshells in the foreground and grow system in the background. Image Credits: Brian Heater

My position at TechCrunch afforded me the grand tour, of course — the whole Willy Wonka, clean suit coveralls and taste-testing experience. In the company’s FAQ, the answer to “Can I visit a Bowery Farm?” is a simple, “At this time, we do not allow visitors to our farms.”

It’s understandable, of course. While the farms themselves are a great visual, there are too many resources and health precautions required to worry about giving tours to outsiders. On my own visit, my guides were extremely cautious about what could and couldn’t be photographed — trade secrets and all.

Given the novelty of vertical farming, and that some stigma still exists against the taste of indoor-grown produce, Bowery’s branding strategy largely revolves around blending in.

Press coverage, like this feature you’re currently reading, is part of the outreach. The company opens itself to journalists and the occasional video camera knowing that putting its farms on visual display is a powerful way to unlock the fascinating story of vertical farming.

Ahead of my own visit, I watched a broad range of videos featuring vertical farms from all over the world. My playlist featured everything from Nordic Harvest’s newly opened 75,000-square-foot facility in Copenhagen, to the modular urban farming setups Brooklyn-based Square Roots creates inside a shipping container you can purchase for just $80,000.

The size, the scope, the potential impact — the mind reels. Vertical farming may be a nascent space, but it is growing rapidly, and the greenfield is being taken quickly.

Most consumers will never interact with a Bowery farm beyond reading an article or watching a clip online, and there’s nothing particularly wrong about that. The truth is that urbanites will almost never set foot in the place where our food is grown — that there’s a connection at all is a kind of win in and of itself.

Ultimately though, building that individual connection with consumers will determine the fate of Bowery in the ultra-competitive produce market. Branding is a high priority for the firm, particularly as it battles competitors like AeroFarms, which recently announced that it will go public via SPAC before failing to secure investor approval.

In this fourth and final part of the TC-1, I’ll look at how the company is trying to invent brand loyalty in the produce section, figure out its packaging, design its supply chain and, finally, seek a path to profitability against a broad competitive landscape.

Lettuce have a taste

Bowery sees opportunity in the boutique clamshells that have begun propagating across produce shelves in recent years — first in upscale markets and then more mainstream grocery stores.

The Automattic TC-1

It’s hard to build a publishing empire, and it’s just as easy to lose one. Newspaper magnates were mostly replaced by broadcast moguls, first radio and then TV and cable, and now of course, they are all fighting against the social media tycoons and streaming impresarios who want to capture our attention. Each generation of media titans dies off and is replaced, just as each medium finds its niche only to be supplanted by something novel.

So when it comes to Automattic, the leading commercial complement to the open-source WordPress publishing platform, time and longevity have a rather peculiar meaning in an industry littered with the gravestones of media sites of yore. Founded in 2005, the company continues to assiduously evolve and expand as it staves off that ambient and inclement sense of doom that pervades media.

Sixteen years in and now valued at $7.5 billion, Automattic has found a multitude of strides, even as it strives to own ever more of the media market. It’s a publisher, a social media network via its acquisition of Tumblr, an e-commerce giant with WooCommerce, a productivity tool with P2, and more. It reached this peak doing pretty much everything wrong, according to VCs, a strategy, as we will see, that proved to be exponentially effective in the long run.

The lead writer for this TC-1 (our slightly rechristened EC-1 to match our TechCrunch+ rebrand) is Chris Morrison. Chris has been among our most productive analysts of breakthrough companies, profiling Roblox and Klaviyo in previous entries of this series. In addition to writing and analyzing, he’s an independent game developer and brings his expertise in business development and engineering to bear in understanding Automattic and its open source focus. The lead editor for this package was Danny Crichton, the assistant editor was Ram Iyer, the copy editor was Richard Dal Porto and illustrations were created by Nigel Sussman.

Morrison has no financial ties to Automattic or other conflicts of interest to disclose.

The Automattic TC-1 comprises four main articles numbering 10,700 words and a reading time of about 40 minutes. Let’s take a look:

We’re always iterating on the TC-1 format. If you have questions, comments or ideas, please send an email to TechCrunch Managing Editor Danny Crichton at