Carbyne snaps up $56M to speed up emergency services

Emergency services, long run on legacy platforms, are now getting a big boost of technology, and today one of the bigger players in that space is announcing a round of funding to better target the opportunity. Carbyne, a startup that designs systems used by emergency services to handle calls for medical, public safety, transportation and other urgent needs, has raised $56 million -- a Series C that's coming on the heels of the company growing revenues 400% in the last year. Today, its tech is installed in emergency response services that cover some 400 million people and handle some 150 million 911 calls annually.

Amir Elichai, Carbyne's founder and CEO, said in an interview with TechCrunch that the company is targeting (and is on track) to cover 1 billion people by 2024.

"With this new funding our main investment aims are to expand in the U.S., establish a solid partner program to target the opportunity globally we don’t sell directly and to put more investment in R&D," he said.

The target is to build more tools to make those working in emergency contact centers smarter and more effective, and ideally less stressed in their jobs. "There is a lot of innovation to be done to improve sentiment analysis, trauma detection and more. Now that more data is coming in, how can [that be used] to help with stress? I'm talking both about the people calling and the people working at these centers."

Cox Enterprises and Hanaco Growth Fund are co-leading the round with participation from new backers Valor Equity Partners, General Global Capital, TalC and Sandiip Bhammer, as well as previous backers Founders Fund, FinTLV, Elsted Capital Partners and General David Petraeus, best known perhaps for being the former director of the CIA.

The funding values the company at around $400 million, a three-fold increase over its valuation in its Series B (which came in two tranches, $25 million in January 2021 and a further $20 million a few months later), said Elichai. The startup, founded in Israel -- where it still runs its R&D -- but now HQ'd in New York, has raised $128 million to date.

Carbyne's rise comes on the heels of a big moment for urgent care.

Emergency services and the front-line staff running them found themselves in the spotlight with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic: In many cases they became the critical link between masses of people distancing themselves in the physical world for public health reasons, and medical and other urgent services when they were needed.

But that attention also highlighted another urgent detail: Emergency services are under huge amounts of pressure, and often they are working with antiquated technology across very fragmented ecosystems. Emergency services centers -- the ones that handle and triage 911 calls when they come in -- alone number 6,500 in the U.S., and that's before you consider the other partners in that chain between the individual calling for help and the people who can provide it.

Carbyne, which today is primarily active in the U.S., but potentially might enter other markets over time -- effectively sits in the gap between those two poles. It's building technology to improve the responsiveness of those emergency teams, both in terms of the data that they can use to do their work, and in terms of the way they operate overall. That can include not just more efficient tech to pass requests on to the right people, but also more data to help those in the emergency response centers provide more accurate help themselves.

Its positioning is very practical: In some cases it's working alongside some of that legacy equipment; in others, it's stepping in as part of larger digital transformation projects that were introduced after emergency response systems were found to be outdated and no longer fit for purpose, and so we're seeing more organizations migrating to the cloud.

Some would argue that COVID-19 was actually just a canary in the coal mine, so to speak. There have been a number of forces that are leading perhaps to more rather than fewer emergency call-outs overall. Climate change is resulting in much more drastic natural disasters; crime rates and mass events that need emergency assistance only seem to be going up; and the fact that healthcare and public services are getting more complicated to navigate directly are putting a lot more emphasis on how callouts are triaged and handled. All of this lands at the foot of emergency response centers to be ever-more sophisticated nerve centers in the middle of it all.

That's something that the U.S. government has been trying to get on top of, with the House recently green-lighting a $10 billion package to update legacy infrastructure and implement next-generation 911 technologies like those built by Carbyne. The company has long been touting some of its very biggest deals, such as a partnership with the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, which is using Carbyne's cloud-based APEX platform.

“Revamping legacy infrastructure in the U.S. is long overdue,” said Davis Roberson, associate vice president of strategy and investments at Cox Enterprises, in a statement. “The technology Carbyne delivers is resilient, interactive, and secure. We are looking forward to working with Carbyne to bring this critical technology to more communities and organizations.”