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"IT'S HELL"

Ukrainian-founded Grammarly is donating all the money it made in Russia since 2014

Two people help an older woman walk over tracks toward an unseen evacuation train from Kyiv to Lviv at Kyiv central train station amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 3, 2022
Reuters/Gleb Garanich
Fleeing Kyiv.
  • Lila MacLellan
By Lila MacLellan

Quartz at Work senior reporter

Published Last updated

As the war in Ukraine continues, the list of businesses cutting ties to Russia grows. It now includes Apple, Nike, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Meta, and Boeing.

Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko, the Ukrainian-born founders of Grammarly, an app that flags writing errors in email and other documents, say the company has also suspended its services in Russia and Belarus, where Putin’s military has established a staging ground for its offensives.

But Grammarly is taking its support further. It will “donate all of the net revenue earned from Russia and Belarus since the war started in 2014 through 2022 to causes supporting Ukraine,” creating a $5 million fund, its founders said in a statement. Over the past week, Grammarly has already given $1 million to Ukrainian humanitarian groups.

Lytvyn and Shevchenko wrote that they were “devastated by the war against our home country” and inspired by resilience and bravery they’re seeing, but they also “fear for the safety of the people of Ukraine—including our team members—who are directly affected by this invasion.”

Grammarly first launched in Kyiv

Lytvyn, Shevchenko, and Dmytro Lider founded Grammarly in Kyiv in 2009. The company’s headquarters are now in San Francisco, though it still has offices in  Kyiv, as well as New York and Vancouver. Only one month ago, Bloomberg covered the company’s ascent in Silicon Valley: After a recent round of funding, Grammarly is now worth $13 billion.

It is one of a handful of high-profile software firms founded in Ukraine, home to a large IT sector that’s now integral to the global tech supply chain, Bloomberg reports.

Grammarly is also leveraging its AI-driven software to support Ukraine. In addition to a webpage listing ways users can donate, it has created an in-product feature that’s activated whenever a customer writes about Ukraine. Grammarly’s bot will suggest links to resources “for people to educate themselves on the facts of the war and how they can #StandWithUkraine,” the founders said.

Grammarly has offered its premium product free of charge to trusted media outlets in Ukraine which are reporting on the war in English. “Some Ukrainian media outlets have quickly stood up English-language sites to help disseminate truthful information,” the founders said, “and Grammarly supports their efforts.”

The rush to keep employees in Ukraine safe

Grammarly’s top priority in the war was to get their employees and families to safety, the founders said. It has also “transferred business-critical responsibilities to team members outside of Ukraine” so that Ukraine-based staff can focus on themselves and their families.

One such team member, engineering manager Anna Glukhova, recently posted a message on LinkedIn describing life as “hell” within the besieged country. Glukhova was already “far away,” she wrote, but she was hearing about attacks on civilians in her native Kharkiv.

“Every morning, after the sleepless night, I start my day by reaching out to the list of my close ones to learn if they are alive. I do this every half an hour,” she wrote. The minutes while she waits for a response “are horrifying,” she added. “I never wish anyone to experience that.”

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