Duda, a WordPress rival, raises $50M to help agencies and bigger companies build better websites
Self-expression for many consumers today comes in the form of social media and apps. But if you're a larger business, even if you can't ignore platforms like Facebook, a website still remains central part of your digital equation. Today, Duda — which has built a platform for larger businesses, and typically the agencies they employ, to build those websites — is announcing a round of growth funding of $50 million to expand its business.

This is a Series D, and it's being led by Claridge IL with past investors Susquehanna Growth Equity and Vintage Investment Partners also participating. Itai Sadan, Duda's CEO who co-founded the company with Amir Glatt, would not disclose the valuation, except to say that it has tripled since its last round. (It didn't disclose then, either.) It has now raised $100 million and Sadan believes that the longer-term step will be an IPO in two or three years.

This latest round in the meantime is Duda's biggest funding round to date, and it comes on the back of a predictably big year — one in which online presence for many became their only presence.

Duda has now crossed 1 million published websites from a community of 17,000 developers building on its platform. As a point of comparison, when we covered the company's previous round — $25 million in September 2019 — Duda had crossed 560,000 websites and a community of 6,000 web professionals.

For some further context, these numbers may pale in comparison to WordPress overall, which today says it powers some 41% of the whole of the web (including, disclosure, TechCrunch.com itself) with tens of millions of websites created on its platform.

But Duda is not aiming to directly compete with all of WordPress, or SquareSpace, or Wix, or the wider field of web-building platforms: it describes itself as a "professional web site builder" and it specifically creates tools to handle not just large amounts of content, larger audiences, and larger processes (such as mass e-commerce transactions), but also a larger number of people who might need to engage with the site while it's being constructed, and after it is built.

Having said that, in the area where it's more directly competing — WordPress and others also provide tools to website building professionals and agencies — Sadan notes that some 60% of its customers are migrating from WordPress, according to the agencies that Duda has surveyed.

"The issues include security and, you know, plugins breaking," he said. "The analogy I like to use is that it's like Android versus iPhone," he added, which to him means "you get everything from one vendor: we do the hosting, provide a website builder, the templates, the widgets. And and you have a support team that you can actually call and talk to if you have any problems. That's the guarantee that we give to our customers." If the customer in question is an agency running tens or hundreds, or even thousands of sites, that is the kind of customer Duda handles.

The company's more recent turn, he said, has been into SaaS: that is, websites that provide tools on their platforms that others in turn can use, whether those are travel planning tools, or e-commerce platforms, and so on. SaaS was an area Duda entered into back in 2019 and it now accounts for about half of its business, Sadan said.

Within, that, unsurprisingly, e-commerce has been one of the standout areas, growing 65% and now accounting for about 20% of all of Duda's business. "Part of this raise is to double down on that," he said.

"We look forward to partnering with Duda and its existing shareholders in further cementing Duda's leadership in its space, as well as fulfilling its vision of making web design easy and scalable for web professionals serving clients across all industries," said Oded Tal, Claridge IL's founding managing partner, said in a statement. "The company has built an incredible product that is highly regarded by web professionals and operates in a truly massive, high growth market."