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Ex-Apple and IBM staffs’ UK startup snaps $2.7M for on-device AI privacy solutions in advertising

NumberEight founders Abhishek Sen and Chris Watts
NumberEight founders Abhishek Sen and Chris Watts. Image credits; NumberEight

The advertising industry, estimated to be worth $615 billion, is faced with pressing challenges, primarily revolving around stringent privacy regulations and an overreliance on personally identifiable information (PII) for targeted advertising. As different regions often have varying regulations which may change or be supplemented in the future, the difficulties faced by the adTech industry are plain to see.

This constantly evolving landscape poses an existential threat to the open internet and to businesses wanting to avoid sanctions for unwitting violations. These new regulations are necessitating innovative solutions that can allow advertising to remain effective without breaking any rules.

Solution investment

NumberEight, a London-based startup specialising in ‘privacy-first’ identity solutions for the advertising industry, has secured $2.7 million in Pre-Series A funding led by ACF Investors. Early backers Nauta Capital, Ascension Ventures, Enterprise 100 angels, and new groups like COREangels EnterpriseTech and COREangels Big Data & AI Europe also contributed. Strategic angels’ backers included seasoned veterans from mobile gaming, John Libby and Nick Button-Brown, and AdTech experts such as Ionut Ciobotaru.

This substantial investment is earmarked to propel commercial growth, fortify product development, and expedite the company’s expansion into the United States, leveraging considerable market interest.

NumberEight’s clever solution

Amidst this climate, NumberEight has developed its behavioural intelligence on-device AI technology. The core of this innovation lies in enabling advertisers to reach their target audiences without resorting to traditional cookies or IDs, thus ensuring user privacy while delivering precisely tailored ads and in a future-proof and privacy-first manner.

Future growth and global expansion

The recent investment follows a period of remarkable growth and substantial market traction. NumberEight’s global operations encompass partnerships across audio, gaming, and advertising sectors, boasting collaborations with notable industry players such as Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), Adverty, and AdInMo.

Perspectives from leadership

Abhishek Sen, a former engineer at Apple, Palm, and Blackberry, boasts multiple US patents and has extensive experience living and working in the US, Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands. He holds an MSc. in Electrical Engineering from TU Delft and a BASc. in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Teaming up with him is Chris Watts, a former IBM researcher specialising in air pollution sensors, who holds multiple patents. Together, they are the co-founders of NumberEight, highlighting the pressing need for innovative solutions amid escalating privacy regulations and data constraints. 

Sen said: “Against the current zeitgeist of increasing privacy regulations and data restrictions by platforms, there is an urgent need for innovative solutions that empower advertisers without compromising user privacy. This investment is a testament to our foresight in on-device AI and privacy-focused technologies, setting the stage for our global product and commercial expansion plans.”

Tim Mills, Managing Partner at ACF Investors, highlighted “”Governments around the world are enacting stricter privacy regulations, making it more difficult for advertisers to collect and use user data without their consent. NumberEight’s innovative approach to identity and privacy has the potential to make a significant impact in the industry, by addressing the challenges facing advertisers and consumers alike. We are delighted to be a part of this remarkable journey.” 

ACF Investors, established in 2011, is a venture capital fund focused on supporting high-potential SMEs across the UK. To date, ACF Investors has supported 116 companies with their strategic investments, including such names as Ebury, Gousto, Creo Medical, and Form3.

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