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Crisis Text Line gets $23.8 million from tech A-listers

Melinda Gates, Reid Hoffman, Steve Ballmer and Pierre Omidyar all pour money into the millennial twist on a call-in hotline.

Crisis Text Line CEO Nancy Lublin
Asa Mathat

Crisis Text Line, which offers peer counseling over text messaging and other new media, has landed nearly $24 million in new funding from some of the tech industry's biggest names.

The company announced a venture-style funding round from Reid Hoffman, Melinda Gates, the Ballmer Group and Omidyar Network.

“Crisis Text Line is a tech startup, so it makes sense for us to fund-raise like one,” said founder and CEO Nancy Lublin. "The amount raised and the caliber of the people we attracted underscore the quality of what we’re doing.”

That said, the “investors” will have to settle for the social benefits of their cash contribution. “There is no equity, no possibility of a liquidity moment,” Lublin said.

Lublin said there are no restrictions on the use of the donations, but said that among the organization’s goals are increasing its ranks to 4,000 volunteer crisis counselors from today’s 1,500.

Crisis Text Line has also been working with the tech industry beyond its fund-raising, working with YouTube to offer support to those who search for content related to suicide, depression and self-harm. At the Wired Business Conference in New York, the organization also announced plans to work with Facebook Messenger and Kik to offer support services.

“Crisis Text Line is a powerful way to reach young people in need using a technology they know and trust,” Melinda Gates said in a statement. The organization has exchanged 18.5 million messages since its debut in August 2013, with 80 percent of texters reporting being under 25.

Lublin talked about her plans for Crisis Text Line onstage at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference in 2013.

The group has also been publicly sharing aggregate data on its texters at

“This data set has the volume, velocity and variety to inspire really exciting research and policy,” Lublin said. “You can’t fix something if you don’t understand what is broken.”

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