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UK startup working with Facebook and Google to tackle online extremism secures £5M funding

Moonshot

With the progression of the internet, it is being used increasingly to propagate harm, including preparation of terrorist acts, proliferation of child sexual abuse content, abuse of women in public life, and hate speech among others. Meanwhile, there is massive circulation of disinformation, which has shaken up public trust in the media.

Moonshot, a London-based data analytics company, which designs new technology to identify and mitigate online harms, has now secured $7 million (nearly £5 million) in Series A funding from Beringea, the transatlantic venture capital firm, and UK-based Mercia.

International expansion on cards

The firm recently opened an office in Washington, DC, and will use the funds to drive international expansion, further develop its tech stack and expand operations to allow it to counter such disinformation and organized crime. Additionally, the company will develop its product to provide solutions in the corporate security space.

Furthermore, Richard Fenning, former CEO of Control Risks joins Moonshot’s board as chair, alongside Karen McCormick from Beringea and Jason Warren from Mercia.

Karen McCormick, Chief Investment Officer at Beringea, commented: “It is not often that you meet a founding team that has advised heads of state alongside Facebook and Google: in Vidhya and Ross, we are working with entrepreneurs that provide world-leading perspectives on the global trends shaping the future of online threats. As Moonshot scales its presence in Washington D.C., Beringea will be working closely with the team to leverage our transatlantic footprint and build an international success story together.”

Richard Fenning, former CEO of Control Risks, commented: “This investment marks a key moment for both Moonshot and the fight against online harm. The coming years will see incredible opportunities to deploy technology and expertise to do enormous good in this area. It is rare to find a company where the commitment to the cause is so tightly aligned with the ambition to grow and succeed. I am thrilled to be joining such a remarkable team of people.”

Jason Warren, Investment Director at Mercia, commented: “Misinformation and online extremism are complex issues without an easy answer, yet tackling this new breed of online threats has never been more important. We were impressed from day one by Moonshot’s unique blend of subject matter expertise and technical understanding, and are delighted to be partnering with Vidhya and Ross in their mission to help governments and corporates counter online harms.”

Ross Frenett, Founder and CEO of Moonshot, commented: “Moonshot is a new type of company. We don’t see social good as an added extra, something for the occasional away-day or well-meaning platitude. Solving the world’s hardest and most complex problems sits at the core of our business model. In Mercia and Beringea we have found investors who share that vision for a better world. Our team are energised about using this investment to help millions of people avoid extremism, human trafficking and disinformation.”

Wants to end online harms

Founded in London in 2015 by Vidhya Ramalingam and Ross Frenett, Moonshot’s mission is to end online harms and provide vulnerable people with positive, supportive messages and services. Working with Facebook and Google to tackle online extremism, Moonshot recently safeguarded millions of internet users across the United States seeking to access extremist and conspiracy theory content in the run up to the US election and through the January 6th insurrection.

The company designs technologies and methodologies to reach people both engaging in and affected by a range of online harms, including disinformation, human trafficking, gender-based violence and child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Moonshot has delivered threat monitoring and analysis, digital campaigns, tailored interventions, and a range of other services in over 57 countries and 33 languages, for governments, tech companies, and international organisations. Its clientele includes the Department of Homeland Security, USAID, the US Department of State, the UK Home Office, and companies such as Facebook and Google.

Vidhya Ramalingam, Founder and CEO of Moonshot, commented: “What makes Moonshot unique is the boldness of our mission, combined with our unfailing commitment to civil liberties, and to the people who are most affected by online harms. There has never been a more important moment for us to scale our mission. We look forward to demonstrating the true value proposition of fighting online harms armed with evidence and ethics as the guiding principles.”