iNaturalist is both a social network and biodiversity dataset. Data from iNaturalist have been used in more than 4,000 research publications and users have identified new species through browsing its observation.

In 2008, iNaturalist was born through its cofounder Ken-ichi Ueda and fellow master's students Nate Agrin and Jessica Kline's joint final project. After Loarie joined in 2011, it grew into a limited liability company, and three years later, iNaturalist's staff and office moved to the California Academy of Sciences as the two organizations joined forces. In 2017, the National Geographic Society came in as a partner, and iNaturalist became a joint initiative of these two nonprofits, funded by a combination of grants and small individual donations.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a longtime iNaturalist donor with a $9.5 billion endowment, gave iNaturalist a $10 million grant to help it achieve liftoff. With the help of a $10 million startup grant, the organization that started as a UC Berkeley master's project became its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
—Lia Keener (September 12, 2023) iNaturalist Strikes Out on Its Own Bay Nature