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Editorial: The shining example of ACV Auctions

The success of ACV Auctions speaks to entrepreneurs worldwide and shouts that the history and spirit of innovation is alive and well, right here in Western New York.

The privately held startup company should be congratulated for reaching milestones status as Buffalo’s first confirmed “unicorn,” and achieving that rare benchmark of being valued by investors at $1 billion or more. The feat is rare outside the common technology and investment centers.

The company, an online marketplace for used cars, hit the $1.5 billion valuation mark thanks to its latest round of investment funding. In doing so, ACV became the first local startup company to surpass the billion-dollar mark. As noted in a recent News article, this area boasts well-established firms such as Delaware North Companies and Rich Products Corp., both of which are valued much higher.

But consider ACV’s startup status and the vision and culture that supported and nurtured the company, which won the $1 million grand prize in the 43North business competition in 2015. The competition was created as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion.

The company recently announced another $150 million in funding through five major venture capital and investment firms which determined its new market value. Total raised: nearly $300 million in five separate funding rounds since its launch. Those watching would be interested to know that ACV is “widely expected” to go public within the next two to three years.

ACV, founded by Chief Technology Officer Dan Magnuszewski, Chief Customer Success Officer Joseph Neiman and Jack Greco, has done an excellent job leveraging available resources to bring to market the creative idea: an “online wholesale market that helps dealers find, buy and sell used cars through 20-minute auctions.” And the company’s name? It originates from the “actual cash value” of a car.

The company sold 24,000 wholesale vehicles in August, more than twice the rate from a year earlier, although the figure represents only 2% of all vehicles sold at U.S. auctions. The number of employees has also increased to 1,011 nationwide, with 372 in Buffalo.

The company is based in the Innovation Center on Ellicott Street on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

As noted by successful entrepreneur and venture capital investor Jordan Levy, ACV’s success proves companies can thrive in Western New York. He should know. Levy started and led Seed Capital Partners and Z80 Labs.

ACV’s Magnuszewski formerly led Z80 Labs, which Levy and Ron Schreiber started. CEO George Chamoun previously founded Synacor.

Alex Gress, president of 43North, highlighted what ACV represents and that is the “ability to scale and attract significant and sophisticated investment dollars into our region.” It’s a credit to the company and, as Levy noted, to state and local efforts to create an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” to support startup companies in Buffalo and Western New York.

It is true. Thanks to the collective effort and belief by individuals, government officials and startups participating in the 43North competition, or merely setting down roots here, that ecosystem now exists.

Congratulations, ACV.

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