Blackbird.AI has raised $32 million in total capital, with an influx of $20 million from a recent Series B round.
Driven by artificial intelligence, Blackbird helps organizations detect and respond to threats that cause reputational and financial harm. Its narrative and risk intelligence Constellation platform offers the ability to assess and understand reputational risks and threats in real time.
Founded in 2017, Blackbird—which lists its primary address at the Whiting Building on East Avenue—closed its Series B round earlier this month. The funds are expected to help Blackbird’s team scale sales and marketing, boost awareness and reach more customers, officials say.
The round was led by Ten Eleven Ventures, which invests in cybersecurity companies. Blackbird also received support from existing investors Dorilton Capital, Generation Ventures, StartFast Ventures and Trousdale Ventures. Some of its other investors include Paul Kurtz, chief cybersecurity advisor to Splunk, a software company; and Richard Clarke, the U.S. government’s first cyber czar.
“Human perception has become the latest frontier in cyberattacks, manifesting as misinformation and narrative manipulation. This emerging threat is impacting a broad range of sectors and professionals, from strategic communicators and risk managers to information security teams,” says Wasim Khaled, CEO and co-founder of Blackbird.AI.
“We aim to help organizations understand and address the potential threats posed by perception manipulation, which often fly under the radar, fostering an environment of trust, safety and integrity, while simultaneously providing them with significant strategic and competitive leverage.”
The company recently launched RAV3N Co-Pilot, a generative AI reporting module. When paired with its Constellation platform, it is able to scan billions of posts and organize them into related clusters, and can assess perception risk within those narratives. Organizations can create custom profiles and detect threats. The platform can analyze text, images and memes across the dark web in addition to the news media, and detect how these propagate in more than 25 languages.
Blackbird has worked with government organizations, most recently with mission critical technology related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Communications firm Weber Shandwick uses Blackbird’s tools in its crisis services.
“Global organizations must act on deliberate and accidental disinformation and malicious messaging from humans or automated bots—or a hybrid of both,” says Dave Palmer, a board member and general partner of Ten Eleven Ventures. “Online security measures like firewalls and cloud defenses may not be enough to ensure a safe internet. Blackbird offers superior security that goes beyond infrastructure and application security technologies. We are on a mission to serve and protect the global information ecosystem.”
Disinformation has had a widespread impact in the last few years influencing public perception. Perhaps the most obvious impact has been in politics—from faith in the election system to the government’s stability.
The cost of disinformation is roughly $78 billion globally each year, a 2019 Cheq report estimates. In its recent State of Fake Traffic report, Cheq notes that fake web traffic is a concern for marketers. It wastes advertising dollars and can create invalid leads, impacting growth forecasts.
Entire organizations including Twitter, PayPal and Ticketmaster have been forced to jump into crisis mode after go-to-market initiatives unintentionally led to exploitation from bad actors on the web, the report states. In 2022, among 15,000 Cheq customers, $142.8 billion in revenue was lost and $35.7 billion of ad spend was wasted on fake traffic.
Current technologies have been unable to detect and mitigate harmful content online, often because they have not been able to identify the nuanced indicators in the content and the mechanisms by which it spreads across information networks, Blackbird says.
With deep insights from its tools, the company expects its ability to mitigate confusion related to misinformation and to help organizations become proactive will safeguard information.
“We’re standing on the frontline in the battle against information warfare, armed with the technology and the team needed to help the world battle warped realities,” Khaled wrote in a letter after the Series B round. “We’re not just here to disrupt industries or become the next unicorn company. Our goal is loftier – to safeguard the integrity of information in our global ecosystem.”
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].