Toast, Inc. is a cloud-based restaurant software company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The company provides a restaurant management and point of sale (POS) system built on the Android operating system. Toast was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2012 by Steve Fredette, Aman Narang, and Jonathan Grimm. In February 2020, Toast received $400 million in a round of Series F funding including Bessemer Venture Partners and TPG, at a valuation of $4.9 billion. Toast is used in thousands of restaurants, from small cafes to nationwide enterprises, across the U.S.
Toast founders Steve Fredette, Aman Narang, and Jonathan Grimm met at software company Endeca after graduating from MIT in Cambridge, MA. After Endeca was acquired by Oracle in 2011, they left to start Toast. Grimm, Narang, and Fredette initially created a consumer app centered for mobile payments, customer loyalty, promotions, and social aspects that integrated with restaurants’ existing POS systems.
The company started to realize that restaurants had far more needs than just being able to accept payments using a phone or tablet. The company pivoted to a full restaurant technology platform, with applications for POS, online ordering, gift cards, analytics and other features. Two years later, the company signed over 1,000 merchants across the United States and grew to more than 120 employees, requiring the company to upgrade its space from 7,000 square feet in Cambridge to 40,000 square feet at the Hatch Fenway co-working space.
In 2013, Toast received investments from several Boston executives, including former CEO of Endeca Steve Papa, who now serves as a board member for the company.
In early 2015, Toast announced Chris Comparato as its chief executive officer. Comparato previously served as senior vice president of “customer success” at Acquia and senior vice president of “worldwide customer solutions” at Endeca. In August, Toast announced that they signed 1,000 customers in under two years, revealing 550% year-over-year growth. In November, Toast released its first restaurant report, which analyzed the market for restaurant technology as well as restaurant owners’ challenges and preferred technology features.
In January 2016, Toast received $30 million in a round of Series B funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and GV, previously known as Google Ventures and an Alphabet company. The funding was led by BVP partner Kent Bennett and general partner and Android co-founder Rich Miner. Several undisclosed investors also participated in the round.
In February 2018, Needham-based TripAdvisor partnered with Toast Inc.
In July, 2018 the company became a unicorn startup company after a Series D round of financing raising $115 million, and valuing the company at $1.4 billion.
In the first quarter of 2019, the company raised $250 million based on a valuation of $2.7 billion. The equity raise was led by TCV and Tiger Global Management.
In July 2019, Toast acquired the Chicago-based human resources and payroll software company StratEx. The company also said they would add an additional 1,000 employees by the end of 2019.
In February 2020, Toast announced a $400 million Series F funding round at a $4.9 billion valuation, led by Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, Greenoaks Capital, and Tiger Global Management.
In April 2020, Toast laid off 50% of its workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact on the restaurant industry.
In November 2020, Toast has a secondary sale that valued the company at around $8 billion, despite laying off half of its employees in April.
Toast’s restaurant management system operates on the Android operating system. The backend can be managed via mobile device or via Web browser in real-time. Associated hardware includes a receipt printer, cash drawer, kitchen display screen, and magstripe card reader.
In 2015, Merchant Maverick named Toast one of the best POS systems for pizza parlors. In 2016, Toast was recognized as a “notable player in the restaurant technology landscape” by PYMNTS.com.
In May 2016, the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) named Toast the winner of the Hottest Startup: A+ at the 2016 NEVY awards.
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