Checkstep secures £1.3 million Seed investment led by Shutterstock’s CEO Jon Oringer

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UK SafetyTech Startup Checkstep closes £1.3m ($1.8m) seed round to grow end-to-end content moderation AI for Safety-By-Design solutions and social networks

  • Founded in 2020 SafetyTech startup Checkstep builds AI solutions for contextual moderation – enabling more inclusive, safer social media and enterprise solutions
  • Checkstep topped a recent UK Government list of solutions to combat online harm and is on Cohort 4 of Oxford University’s Elevate Accelerator program 
  • Raise led by Shutterstock’s CEO Jon Oringer, Former Uber Chief Business Officer (CBO) Emil Michael and former Head of Corporate Strategy at Microsoft Charles Songhurst 

London, UK, 28th June 2021 Checksteps, the UK startup providing advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) products for contextual content moderation to social media and enterprise platforms, today announces a seed investment funding round of $1.8m alongside the key hiring of Kyle Dent as Head of AI Ethics. The raise will advance its scale-to-market plans and enable further hires to enhance AI functionality – continuing its journey towards offering end-to-end content moderation processes. The round is led by Shutterstock’s Founder Jon Oringer, the former CBO of Uber Emil Michael and Microsoft’s former head of Corporate Strategy Charles Songhurst and is supported by VCs, Angel and private investors that share Checkstep’s vision of a safe, inclusive internet for all. 

As the amount of misinformation, fake news and online abuse on online platforms and forums continues to grow, there remain major ethical and technical questions over how platforms, users and content can best be moderated. The UK is a global leader in SafetyTech startups and digital solutions, bridging the gaps between human and technological solutions to build a safer digital world for all. 

Checkstep’s founder and CEO, Guillaume Bouchard states,

“We believe in the importance of creating an inclusive internet where both adults and children can actively participate in online communities while enjoying a truly positive experience. With the help of our technology, platforms have a better way to manage content with visibility into potential problems and the ability to head off negative experiences for their community members. Thanks to our investors that have shown the belief in our dream, with their help and guidance Checkstep can expedite our project to provide safe, ethical moderation of harmful or false content that causes so much damage to society.

Founded by Guillaume Bouchard, Facebook’s former AI Integrity Manager and Founder of Bloomsbury AI (successfully exited to Facebook in 2018), Checksteps uses AI technology to provide trust and safety solutions for social media platforms. The Startup has recently been accepted to Cohort 4 of Oxford University’s Elevate Accelerator and has been named first on the UK Government’s list focused on online harms after the Online Safety Bill’s publication. 

Shutterstock’s CEO Jon Oringer added.

“As acts of online harm increase and content moderators combat mental health and burnout issues with work, 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 knowhow and ethical understanding and care, we are excited to see how Checksteps develops as a company and service provider over the coming months.

Checkstep holds ethics at its core and as such today announces Kyle Dent as Head of AI Ethics. Kyle has a well-tenured career working across large corporations including Hewlett-Packard and Xerox PARC. His journey into the world of AI Ethics singles Kyle out as one of the industry’s leading voices having acted as PARC’s Chair of the AI Ethics Committee.

Dent comments stating that

“My focus is the intersection of people and technology. Most of my work has been considering the impact of technology on individuals and complex social systems or using data science to better understand how those systems function. I work on AI Ethics and technology that fosters healthier online communities by combating misinformation, hate speech, abusive language, and toxic content.”

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Notes to editor 

PR For Checkstep

SoContent – Doug Hunter
[email protected]

About Checkstep

Checkstep vision is a safe, trusted and inclusive internet for everyone. They believe this is achievable with their focus on Online Harm Detection powered by AI that reduces the need for human content moderation and empowering online platforms to take control of their content. Checkstep offers for the first time a UK based full service solution that ensures clients can scale efforts quickly. The company stands out for their recognition of the need to have fair and unbiased AI. 

Made by a team of internationally recognised entrepreneurs and researchers who specialise in machine learning and natural language processing.  Checktstep is also a member of the Online Safety Tech Industry Association (OSTIA) the industry body for UK organisations operating in the online safety sector. 

About Oxford University’s Elevate Accelerator: 

 The OXFO Elevate accelerator is building a new generation of ventures and leaders by leveraging OXFO’s powerful networks, partnerships and talent, OXFO ventures go onto scale fast, raise significant investment, and innovate to reinvent and rebuild a better society and economy.

For more information visit https://www.oxfordfoundry.ox.ac.uk/about-oxfo-elevate

Guillaume Bouchard:

Previously Co-founder and CEO of Bloomsbury AI, exited to Facebook in 2018, to reduce the prevalence of misinformation using AI. One of the main organisers of the first conference on Truth and Trust Online.

PhD in applied mathematics and machine learning from INRIA, France. 12 years of scientific at Xerox Research and UCL, focusing on large-scale predictive models, text understanding and distributed AI techniques.

Author of more than 60 international publications and holder of more than 50 U.S. patents.

Kyle Dent: 

Kyle has a well tenured career working across large corporations including Hewlett-Packard and Xerox. His journey into the world of AI Ethics singles Kyle out as one of the industries leading voices having acted as PARC’s Chair of the AI Ethics Committee. 

Specialties: Technology and society, AI ethics, natural language processing, conversational agents, data science, and complex systems”.

Investor Bios 

Jon Oringer is an American programmer, photographer, and billionaire businessman, best known as the founder and CEO of Shutterstock, a stock media and editing tools provider headquartered in New York City. Oringer started his career while a college student in the 1990s, when he created “one of the Web’s first pop-up blockers.” He went on to found about ten small startups that used a subscription method to sell “personal firewalls, accounting software, cookie blockers, trademark managers,” and other small programs.In 2003, Oringer founded Shutterstock to provide microstock photography, which has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange[6] since 2012. As a result of going public, in 2013 Oringer was reported to be New York’s first tech billionaire. Shutterstock had over 100,000 contributors as of March 2016, with an “active customer base of 1.4 million people in 150 countries.” Among other accolades, in 2012 Oringer was named New York’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and the following year Oringer was recognized as one of Crain’s New York 40 Under 40.

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