Clearview AI is currently the target of multiple class action lawsuits and a joint investigation by the UK and Australia. That didn’t deter investors.
The New York-based start-up that scraped billions of photos from the public Internet to create a facial recognition tool used by law enforcement agencies closed a $ 30 million Series B round this month.
Investors were not deterred by the lawsuits but did not want to be identified. Hoan Ton-That, the company’s CEO, said they “include institutional investors and private family offices”.
Previous investors include Peter Thiel, a tech billionaire; Kirenaga Partners, a New York-based venture capital firm; and Hal Lambert, the Texas-based creator of MAGA ETF, a mutual fund made up of companies “in line with Republican beliefs.”
The round includes $ 8.6 million previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and reported by Buzzfeed. Founded in 2017, the company has now raised over $ 38 million at a valuation of $ 130 million.
It’s not the only facial recognition startup that is attracting investor attention. AnyVision, an Israeli competitor, raised $ 235 million this month in a funding round led by SoftBank.
Clearview AI, which claims to have a database of three billion photos of people collected from sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Venmo, is collecting subscription fees from law enforcement agencies for using its product. A search for someone’s face will bring up other photos of the same person with links to their location on the web so they can be identified. According to a leaked list of users received by Buzzfeed, more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies have used Clearview’s product. A recent report from the US Government Accountability Office found that Clearview AI was used by 10 federal agencies, including the Secret Service and the FBI
The company’s product has been found illegal in Canada and is under investigation by the UK and Australia for its use of citizens’ personal information. Some of the lawsuits filed against the company in the United States include one in Illinois alleging that it violated that state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires companies to obtain permission from individuals to do their own thing Use fingerprints or include them in facial recognition databases.
“We got some good news in the litigation,” said Mr. Ton-That, referring to a recent decision by a federal judge to deny a motion to stop the company from doing business pending the outcome of the Illinois trial. “Airbnb, Uber, PayPal all had a significant legal component in their businesses. People forget that when the company is much bigger. Investors can see that this is only part of doing business. “
“Clearview is here to stay,” he added.