Tope Awotona, the Nigerian-born techpreneur and founder of scheduling app Calendly, is now a billionaire, according to Forbes. The 40-year-old started Calendly in Atlanta nine years ago using his life savings of $200,000 before ditching his job selling software for EMC.
Calendly is designed to make the process of finding meeting times easy. Currently, about 10 million people use the platform monthly since it was created, making it very popular. The popularity of the app was attributed to the rising number of people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Calendly is used by the majority of Fortune 500 companies as well as nearly all companies in the SaaS 1000. Ancestry.com, Indiana University and Lift are among its customers.
In February last year, the platform closed a $350 million investment led by Boston-based OpenView Venture Partners with participation from Iconiq Capital, valuing the business at $3 billion.
“That means Awotona’s majority stake is worth at least $1.4 billion, after the 10% discount that Forbes applies to shares of all private companies,” Forbes announced this week.
It said Awotona is now one of just two Black tech billionaires in the U.S., along with 70-year-old David Steward, the founder of Missouri-based IT provider World Wide Technology. Steward founded World Wide Technology with a shoestring budget, and with seven employees. Today, the firm is one of the largest Black-owned IT providers in the U.S. with more than 20 locations across the world. The company provides services for both the American government and private organizations.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, into a middle-class family, Awotona’s father was a microbiologist and entrepreneur while his mother worked at the central bank. At 12, Awotona witnessed his father get shot and killed in a carjacking. By age 15, he had moved with his family to Atlanta, studying computer science at the University of Georgia before going into business and management information.
He then sold software for tech companies such as EMC and started some businesses that didn’t do well before founding Calendly.
“Our profitable, unique, product-led growth model has led to Calendly becoming the most used, most integrated, most loved scheduling platforms for individuals and large enterprises alike,” Awotona told reporters after his platform raised $350 million in funding last year.