Thomas Edison’s saying that “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration,” has served as New York-based Behance’s guiding principle since the company’s founding in 2006. Today, though, the quote would have to mention $6.5 million in funding to be completely relevant.
The funding round – Behance’s first after six years of boostrapping it – was led by Union Square Ventures, which was joined by Jeff Bezos (via the Bezos Foundation), Chris Dixon, Dave McClure, and others.
Founder and CEO Scott Belsky explains that Behance decided to raise capital to compete on talent. “Our engineering and design teams have a long pipeline,” he says. “We want to hire more brilliant minds to make (those goals) happen.” In a blog post, Belsky writes that Union Square Ventures has “a tremendous history of advising network-based businesses, namely Etsy, Twitter, Foursquare, and Kickstarter.”
Behance runs a popular portfolio website network, serving 75 million pageviews in the past 30 days. Still, Belsky resists the idea that Behance is primarily a portfolio platform. “Behance is not a ‘portfolio site.’ Nor is it just a place to post snapshots and get feedback,” he says. “Growth and functionality mean nothing unless you have a purpose.“
That purpose is becoming more clear, thanks to a handful of side ventures. Action Method is the company’s foray into physical goods and productivity software. The site produces eco-friendly notebooks and applications designed to help creative professionals track, review, and meet their goals. The 99%, an online magazine and sel-proclaimed think tank, offers content and events conference on art and creativity.
Despite the side offerings, Behance’s clout comes from the power of its platform, which boasts more than 2 million projects viewed more than a billion times. Without so many page views, and artists’ trust, the company wouldn’t even have a prayer of meeting its goals.
Many companies can say that they want to solve the issues that pop up whenever something is shared on the Web. Still more can offer new solutions for “creatives” to facilitate that sharing. Behance’s size gives it a fair shot at tackling those same issues and solving them, and this new funding will help make the company even larger.