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London startup that deploys AI to transform online content moderation snaps $8M funding

Unitary founders
Image credits: Unitary

It is estimated that nearly 4 billion social media users worldwide upload over 80 years’ worth of new footage to different platforms each day, which makes content moderation challenging. This market, which is expected to reach $32 billion by 2031, can be transformed with AI, which can ‘read’ the context of user-generated videos without a human reviewer. Eyeing to tackle this challenge, London’s woman-led Unitary, which builds contextual AI to automate content moderation, has snapped $8 million in funding.

The investment round was led by Ian Hogarth at Plural Platform, who backed The Lowdown and Claimer, and strategic angels, including technology marketing leader Carolyn Everson who also joined Unitary’s board. The new funding round will enable Unitary to continue to develop its technology and support its open-source work. The funds will be used to grow the team developing its AI technology, accelerate partnerships and continue its open-source work to keep everyone safe online.

Sasha Haco, co-founder and CEO at Unitary, said: “At Unitary, we’re committed to making the internet a safer place for everyone and with the support of investors like Plural, who understand the complexity of developing and scaling deep tech, we can see a clear route to making an impact on this snowballing problem that affects us all.”

Ian Hogarth, founding partner at Plural and co-author of The State of AI, said: “Sasha and James have chosen to tackle one of modern society’s hardest problems and we are in awe of their intellect and determination. Plural was founded to help startups like this apply cutting-edge machine learning to a critical global challenge. As more and more cameras are connected to the internet, we will need ever more intelligent tools to organize that content and make it harder for bad actors to operate.”

Adds new board member

The addition of Everson to the board will help Unitary scale up to reach platforms and protect advertisers and users around the world. Everson, former VP of Global Marketing Solutions at Meta, has spent her career building high-performance teams in the digital media ecosystem at companies including Microsoft and Viacom and also sits on the corporate boards of The Walt Disney Company, The Coca-Cola Company and Under Armour.

Carolyn Everson, angel investor and Unitary board member, said: “From my time working at Meta, I understand deeply the problem that Sasha and James are trying to solve at Unitary. We will all benefit from their mission to make the internet a safer, more enjoyable place to be and I look forward to working closely with the team to make this a reality.”

AI to transform content moderation online

Founded in 2019 by Sasha Haco and James Thewlis in London, Unitary is developing computer vision models to understand online content and make the internet safer. Haco, a mathematician who worked with Steven Hawking on the black hole information paradox during her PhD at Cambridge, and Thewlis, a computer vision specialist who previously worked with Facebook AI Research, met at Entrepreneur First’s accelerator programme. Together they decided to use their respective expertise to build a solution to protect communities from online harm.

Its technology is used by leading social networks and ad tech businesses so they can understand every piece of content in detail and with context. Unitary’s contextual AI to remove unsafe but legal video content. Its tech can process 25,000 video frames in a single second and watch 3 billion images a day. Its technology dynamically scales up and down according to demand, reaching scales of 25,000 video frames processed in a single second.

Since its inception, the company has grown a remote team across five countries working in partnership with social networks, ad tech companies and media businesses to enable them to highlight video content that could be unsafe for particular users, platforms or advertisers.

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