Bill Gates Joins $35 Million Funding in Startup ResearchGate

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest person, is helping lead a $35 million investment in ResearchGate, a networking website for scientists.

Gates is joining Tenaya Capital in leading the round, which also includes Dragoneer Investment Group LLC, Thrive Capital, Benchmark and Founders Fund, ResearchGate said today in a statement. The Berlin-based startup, founded in 2008, has almost 3 million members.

ResearchGate Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Ijad Madisch said he met Gates in France recently, after being introduced to a representative by Benchmark’s Matt Cohler. Gates has given away more than $28 billion of his fortune, mostly to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds programs to lift people out of poverty and invests in vaccines designed to eliminate infectious diseases around the globe.

“I was always dreaming of a potential investment from him because I admire what he has done, what he has built and switching his attention to eradicating disease,” Madisch said in an interview. “What he’s trying to do is perfectly aligned with what we’re doing.”

Gates wasn’t available for comment, according to John Pinette, a spokesman.

While ResearchGate is a business that seeks to make money, the site is bringing together scientists, including many focused on the same issues as the Gates Foundation, Madisch said.

Researcher Network

Scientists and researchers use ResearchGate to publish studies, work collaboratively and recruit talent. The new funding will be used to spur development of the company’s products for sharing and searching for scientific data, according to the statement.

Madisch said the money also will go toward expanding the sales staff and working on revenue-generating products, such as recruiting tools and creating a marketplace for scientific equipment. The company has about 105 employees, he said.

ResearchGate last raised money in February 2012, in a financing round led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. ResearchGate hasn’t disclosed the total amount of money that it’s raised to date.

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