A wave of populism has led many governments around the world to rule in an increasingly erratic fashion. This phenomenon has been challenging for citizens and businesses, but it has proved a boon for a company called FiscalNote, which makes software that tracks laws, regulations, and other government decrees.
FiscalNote has been growing fast. On Friday the firm, based in Washington, D.C., announced a $160 million funding round led by Arrowroot Capital and Runway Growth Capital that will help fuel acquisitions and international expansion.
“Looking back at the last four years, the Trump administration has been good for business,” FiscalNote CEO Tim Hwang told Fortune. “When there is political uncertainty and when organizations don’t know what’s going to happen, they flock to information sources more than ever.”
Hwang launched FiscalNote as a 21-year-old whiz kid in 2013 with the backing of prominent entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and Yahoo founder Jerry Yang. As a teenager, Hwang had used his tech chops to help President Obama win the Iowa caucuses and get elected to a county government position in Maryland.
While FiscalNote began as a niche product for companies to track legislation, it has become a mainstay of both government and business. Today, its more than 4,000 clients include 3M, Astra Zeneca, the CDC, and the U.S. House and Senate. During the pandemic, Hwang says, the company’s software has become especially popular with businesses looking to keep up with a variety of stimulus measures.
Another source of growth for FiscalNote has been the European Union, where Brussels bureaucrats have sought to make the EU a global nexus of regulation with an ever-growing list of rules and directives. Companies looking to navigate this legal maze rely on FiscalNote to send them updates.
Meanwhile, as a growing number of local governments improve their digital capacity, FiscalNote—which relies on software and A.I. to track and analyze changes to laws—has been able to expand its U.S. offerings.
In trying to do so, FiscalNote announced a plan in 2016 to provide a service that could predict the likely success or failure of given legislative proposals. That didn’t pan out, but the company has instead found success in selling software packages aimed at advocacy—letting organizations contact activists in order to direct them to write or phone their local lawmakers. Hwang says FiscalNote had a hand in many of the myriad emails and texts Americans received during the recent election season.
Hwang declined to provide details about FiscalNote’s annual revenue, other than to confirm the figure is between $10 million and $100 million. Likewise, he declined to say if the company is profitable, only saying it is not burning a lot of cash.
FiscalNote’s growth has been impressive not only because of its founder’s age—Hwang is just 28—but also because it has been able to carve out a niche in a data and intelligence business dominated by the likes of Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters. This status could make FiscalNote an attractive acquisition target, but Hwang says he is focusing for now on building out the company’s global operations. The company is expanding quickly in Asia and has opened offices in India and South Korea.
Hwang claims FiscalNote is experiencing the same tailwinds other enterprise software companies, including Zoom and Salesforce, have enjoyed in 2020.
“Shutdowns, stimulus, lockdowns—you’ve never had a time when people are so glued to their screens trying to understand what governments are doing,” he says.
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