Checkstep Raises $1.8M Seed Funding to Combat Online Toxicity
Early stage startup gets funding for R&D effort to develop advanced content moderation technology
We’re thrilled to announce that Checkstep recently closed a $1.8m seed funding round to further develop our advanced AI product offering contextual content moderation. The round was carefully selected to be diverse, international, and with a significant added value to our business. Influential personalities of the tech industry from the U.S. and U.K., but also from France, Bulgaria and Singapore are backing Checkstep, including many previous founders of online platforms, such as Joe White MBE, co-founder of Moonfruit.com and British Consul General in San Francisco, Jon Oringer who founded Shutterstock, a leading photography provider, as well as technology specialists, such as William Tunstall-Pedoe, who founded Evi, which became Amazon Alexa, and Diana Hu, who leads the AR platform at Niantic the company behind Pokemon Go.
This investment will go into R&D to scale the software to deliver the additional functionality required to build a unique content moderation platform that manages the entire content lifecycle, from the policy definition to the management of the appeal process.
As the amount of misinformation, fake news and online abuse on our online platforms and forums continues to grow, major questions remain unanswered — both ethically and technically — over how platforms, users and content can best be moderated. Our CEO, Guillaume Bouchard, formerly Facebook’s AI Integrity Manager, sees 2021 as the year to bring about revolutionary changes for ensuring online safety. Prior to Checkstep, he exited his first business, Bloomsbury AI, to Facebook in 2018. To address the ethical implications inherent in using AI, we recently appointed Kyle Dent, ex-PARC, as our Head of AI Ethics. With Kyle’s focus on the intersection of people and technology, we aim to make sure that well-thought human decisions are at the core of the content moderation process and AI tools.
Checkstep was founded in 2020 with an initial focus on misinformation, but the founders soon realized that the mission of creating an inclusive internet involves addressing all potential forms of online harm from hate speech, child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to terrorist propaganda. Our company is building a 360-degree AI service set to help digital community providers prepare for the regulatory changes ahead while quickly scaling up their capacity to address and help growing online communities. Checkstep’s AI is also fully designed for interoperability through third party integrations, making Checkstep unique in its market segment.
We were featured in DCMS’s recent UK Safety Tech Sector Analysis report as a new addition to their list of safety tech providers. The U.K. is a pivotal epicenter of opportunity across innovation and technology, and Checkstep was chosen through a rigorous application and selection process as just one of ten companies from over 200 applications this year into the Oxford Foundry accelerator’s fourth cohort, giving direct coaching advice from incredible advisors such as Kevin Roberts, Executive Chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi, a leading PR firm, and and resources.
Since its beginning, Checkstep’s leadership team has received direct coaching from the former CTO of Disney, Chairman and ex-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, and the founder of Evernote, a leading productivity software company. This has enabled us to expand and confirm our business strategy, and prioritise our product roadmap much more effectively.
“It is positive to discover startups like Checkstep that support platforms in taking content moderation to the heart of what they do, to build trust and safety with their users. What struck me about the Checkstep team is they also recognise the need to address AI bias, and with Guillaume’s pedigree in this sector, it seems like the right balance of technological know-how and ethical understanding and care, we are excited to see how Checkstep develops as a company and service provider over the coming months.” — Jon Oringer, Founder of Shutterstock
We’re very proud to be backed by such strong investors who believe in our product.