A $200 million investment round announced last week by popular grammar checking tool Grammarly didn’t just catapult the company’s value to $13 billion, but minted billionaires out of two of its founders: Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko. The Ukrainian-born entrepreneurs, who started the automated writing assistant in 2009 with the help of programmer Dmytro Lider, are now worth at least $4 billion each thanks to the recent funding, Forbes estimates.
About 22% of Grammarly is owned by the investors involved in its two funding rounds in 2019 and 2021, according to data collected by Pitchbook. Meanwhile, Lider, the third co-founder, holds onto a stake of just 1%, a company spokesperson previously told Forbes Ukraine, a licensed edition of Forbes. That leaves Lytvyn and Shevchenko with an estimated 35% each of Grammarly’s equity, worth roughly $4 billion apiece after taking into account Forbes’ discount for private companies. A source familiar with the business confirmed these numbers.
Grammarly disputes Forbes’ estimates but has not provided any evidence to support a different valuation of its cofounders. “Grammarly is a private company and does not disclose company ownership distribution or figures,” the company’s communications head Senka Hadzimuratovic said in an email.
The San Francisco-based company was launched over a decade ago under the quickly abandoned name Sentenceworks as a subscription-based product aimed at helping students with their grammar and spelling. It has since evolved away from its sole focus on education and opened up access to its intelligence-driven grammar checker, which can be used to easily weed out the errors in emails, documents and more. The company has also released spin-off products like Grammarly for Business, an edition of its grammar checker for corporate use which boasts big-name clients like Zoom, Cisco, Dell and Expedia.
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This isn’t the only company Lytvyn and Shevchenko have started together. The pair, who met while attending the International Christian University in Ukraine, say the idea for Grammarly actually came from their previous venture, MyDropBox, which dates back to their college days.