TAU Ventures, Tel Aviv University's investment fund, has led a $1 million seed round for startup Cyabra. TAU Ventures invested half of the amount, with the rest coming from private investors who also invested in TAU Ventures. This is TAU Ventures first investment since it was founded two months ago.
"We invest first of all in people with relevant experience," Tau Ventures managing partner Nimrod Cohen told "Globes." "I think that a company able to handle this problem can be very large and important. One of the things I like the most about entrepreneurs is that they come to a venture after feeling the need in their previous jobs; that's what happened here."
Cyabra has developed a platform designed to protect brands and politicians against misleading discourse on social networks distributed through the use of false identities. The company was founded by CTO Ido Shraga, Sendi Frangi, COO Yossef Daar, and CEO Dan Brahmy, all of whom have experience in the use of digital identities in military and business intelligence. In the course of their professional experience, they realized that in order to distribute disinformation online, it was necessary to use false identities. The algorithm they have constructed is designed to track the identities through a system that combines machine learning and natural language processing (NLP).
"From the movement we were first introduced to the company, the process was very quick," Cohen says. "It took only a few weeks from the time we met until the investment was closed. We really liked what they were doing and they realized the value that we could give them. An investment fund that provides only money will have a hard time succeeding. We want to take advantages of our relative advantages, such as the connections we have in institutions of higher learning and in industry and the plans we have for placing students as interns in startups we invest in."
Brahmy said that use of false identities for distributing fake news has become widespread in recent years. "In the political sphere, the future of countries is being determined by influence on their citizens by foreign countries. In the local sphere, we're nearing local elections, and I already see now how candidates are promoting their agenda by distorting reality. Even in the business sphere, our consumer decisions are affected by fictitious social network campaigns. Using the algorithm we have developed, we analyze the discourse on the social networks and issue an alert when we detect a threat from phony discourse."
Cyabra, which was founded a year ago, has 10 employees, all of them in Tel Aviv. The company plans to expand to 15 employees over the coming year following the investment. Cyabra's board of directors includes former Mossad deputy director Ram Ben-Barak and Gemini Israel Ventures founder and managing partner Yossi Sela.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 27, 2018
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