The Zebra, one of Austin’s fastest-growing tech startups, announced a new $40 million Series B investment led by Accel Partners on Tuesday, and it hired former Kayak President Keith Melnick as its new CEO.
Melnick replaces Adam Lyons, who co-founded the company with Joshua Dziabiak in Pittsburgh in 2012 before moving the startup to Austin in 2013.
The Zebra has long called itself “the Kayak of car insurance” because it gives consumers and simple way to compare auto insurance prices and policies. Now, that moniker is bit more true to life with the addition of Melnick, who had worked at Kayak since 2004.
Meanwhile, the startup’s $40 million Series B is the largest investment in Austin to-date by the Palo Alto-based venture capital firm Accel Partners, which has previously invested in Facebook, Dropbox, Spotify and Kayak. The Zebra intends to use the money to hire new talent and expand its platform to other types of insurance.
“There’s an opportunity in insurance to build the go-to digital brand for comparison shopping, just as we’ve lived through from the beginning with what KAYAK did for travel,” John Locke, a partner with Accel, said in a news release. “The Zebra team has the product-first DNA and momentum to pull this off, and we’re thrilled to partner with Keith Melnick – who we worked with on KAYAK for over a decade – and the whole The Zebra team to help make this vision a reality.”
The Zebra, which is one of Austin Inno’s 50 on Fire companies, first caught many people’s eye after the company landed an investment from Mark Cuban, who responded to a cold email sent by Lyons.
The new funding brings the company’s venture funding to a total of $61.5 million. Other investors have included Silverton Partners, Floodgate, Ballast Point Ventures, Mark Cuban, Daher Capital and Birchmere Labs.
“Insurtech is exploding, bringing concepts like peer-to-peer insurance and pay-per-mile models in front of consumers,” Dziabiak, The Zebra’s co-founder and COO, said in the news release. “Our role is to serve as the online marketplace where these innovations are made available to consumers.”