The Zebra Lands $40 Million in Venture Capital and Hires Keith Melnick as CEO

The Zebra founders Joshua Dziabiak (COO) and Adam Lyons (President & Chairman), with new CEO Keith Melnick (center) courtesy photo.

The Zebra, an insurance comparison marketplace, announced Tuesday that is has closed on $40 million in financing and hired Former Kayak Executive Keith Melnick as its new Chief Executive officer.

The Austin-based startup reported Accel Partners led the Series B financing round, the largest Texas Series B financing this year.

Melnick, former president of travel metasearch engine KAYAK, is taking over the reins of CEO from Founder Adam Lyons, who will become the company’s Chairman.

“From day one we set out to make insurance ‘black and white,’ and our team is making a huge impact in driving this industry forward,” Lyons said in a news release. “There is no shortage of interest in the insurance space right now, and we felt Accel was the right partner and aligned with our vision of creating something big. When we met Keith, we knew instantly that we found the talent to help take this company to new heights.”

To date, The Zebra, founded in 2012, has raised $61.5 million including the Series B round.

“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.”

Kevin Melnick, former president of travel metasearch engine KAYAK, is The Zebra’s new CEO, courtesy photo.

The Zebra provides consumers with quotes from more than 200 auto insurance companies in seconds. It has partnered with most of the top 25 insurance companies. The company plans to use the funding to expand its product’s functions, add new lines of insurance, hire more employees and expand its partnerships. It will also focus on branding and marketing.

“Insurtech is exploding, bringing concepts like peer-to-peer insurance and pay-per-mile models in front of consumers,” The Zebra Co-founder and COO Joshua Dziabiak said in a news release. “Our role is to serve as the online marketplace where these innovations are made available to consumers. The vision is for consumers to be able to learn about, search and compare their options, and then purchase and manage their insurance coverage – all in one place.”

Melnick most recently served as President of KAYAK, and was on the team that launched the company in 2004. He previously worked as a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, concentrating on travel, e-commerce, and financial services, and he helped create Orbitz, Inc.

“The insurance industry is where the travel industry was 10 years ago. While the industries vary in players, complexity, and structure, it’s clear to me that the time is ripe to create a similar sort of easy-to-use, yet powerful, consumer experience for both those shopping for and those providing insurance,” Melnick said in a news release. “It sounds simple, but it definitely is not, and it can revolutionize the industry. The Zebra gets that, I get that, and we share a vision and a plan to get it done.”

The Zebra’s investors also include Silverton Partners, Floodgate, Ballast Point Ventures, Mark Cuban, Daher Capital, and Birchmere Labs.

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