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Kanarys raises $3 million for its data-driven platform to assess diversity and inclusion efforts

Mandy Price was already a highly successful lawyer in private practice before she took the jump into entrepreneurship alongside two co-founders to launch Kanarys a little over one year ago.

The Harvard Law School graduated didn’t have to start her company, which helps businesses measure the efficacy of their diversity and inclusion efforts using hard data, but she needed to start the company.

Now, a year after its launch, the company counts companies like Yum Brands, the Dallas Mavericks, and Neiman Marcus among the dozen or so companies using its service and has $3 million in seed funding to help it expand.

For Price, the drive to launch Kanarys came from her own experiences working in law. It wasn’t the microagressions, or the lower pay, or casually dismissive attitude of colleagues toward her well-earned success that led Price to start Kanarys, but the knowledge that her experience wasn’t unique and that thousands of other women and minorities faced the same experiences daily.

I have had many things happen to me in the workplace that is similar to what many other women and women of color have dealt with and didn’t want to have my children have to go through similar issues,” Price said. 

So alongside her husband, Bennie King (himself a serial entrepreneur in the Dallas area), and her University of Texas at Austin and Harvard classmate, Star Carter, Price launched Kanarys in late 2019.

The company uses Equal Employment Opportunity reports and assessments of various policies involving promotion, recruitment, and benefits to track how a company is performing in relation to its industry peers.

“A lot of the inequities we see are from a structural and systemic standpoint. That is where Kanarys can see how they’re perpetuating inequity,” Price said. 

Kanarys starts with an independent assessment of a company’s policies and practices and then conducts quarterly surveys with employees of its customers to see how well they are meeting their stated goals and objectives. They also integrate with existing human resources systems to track things like pay equity and promotions.

The service has attracted the attention of the Rise of the Rest fund, Morgan Stanley, Jigsaw Ventures, Segal Ventures and Zeal Capital Partners, which led the company’s $3 million seed round.

“Organizations have typically tried to address this with individual interventions,” said Price. “What we’re saying is we have to address it on both fronts. So much of the inequities that we see are based off of institutional and systemic policies and practices.”

Not only does Kanarys track information on diversity and inclusion efforts for customers, but for job seekers there’s a database of about 1,000 companies which operates like Glassdoor . The focus is not just on worker satisfaction, but on how employees view the diversity efforts their employers are undertaking.

Notably, Kanarys founders join the (far-too-few) ranks of Black entrepreneurs launching businesses and raising venture capital. In 2017, studies showed that 98 percent of venture capital raised in the U.S. went to men, according to data provided by the company. Black entrepreneurs in general receive less than one percent of venture capital, and Black women founders make up only 0.6 percent of venture capital funding raised. 

“We know that a focus on DEI in business is not just the right thing to do for employees, it also makes good business sense,” said Price, CEO and co-founder of Kanarys, in a statement. “Kanarys’ DEI data arms companies, for the first time, to make precise, immediate, and informed decisions using real, intersectional metrics around their diversity goals and inclusion programs that ultimately drive bottom-line business objectives.”

 

Extra Crunch Live: Join Mark Cuban for a Q&A on April 30 at 11am ET/8am PT

Billionaire. Entrepreneur. Investor. Shark.

Mark Cuban is one of tech’s best-known entrepreneurs, so we are amped to have him join us for an upcoming Extra Crunch Live, our virtual speaker series that connects the brightest minds in tech directly with our Extra Crunch audience.

Starting out as a salesman for one of Dallas’s earliest PC software resellers, Cuban was fired after he ignored his boss’ orders and asked another employee to cover for him while he picked up a check for a $10,000 sale. He went on to create his own software reseller/system integrator called MicroSolutions, which he sold in 1990 for $6 million to CompuServe, then an H&R Block subsidiary. That marked the beginning of a storied (and, at times, tumultuous) career as an entrepreneur and investor.

Cuban went on to co-found Audionet (later renamed Broadcast.com), which he eventually sold to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in 1999; that same year, he made history when he purchased a Gulfstream V for $40 million in the largest single e-commerce transaction ever conducted.

The man’s brain is always 20 years in the future.

The Dallas Mavericks majority owner and “Shark Tank” judge has invested in startups for two decades. His portfolio includes Apptopia, The Zebra, Node, UBeam and many other startups; according to Crunchbase, Cuban has made more than 100 investments since 2004.

We’ll ask how he’s advising his portfolio companies in the midst of a crisis and will get his predictions on the economic outlook over the next 12 to 24 months. We’re also interested to hear how Cuban thinks technology may or may not solve for the current situation around live sports, which have effectively been halted by the pandemic.

And if we have time, we’ll ask a bit about workers, equitable capitalism and his thoughts regarding the gig economy in these turbulent times. Given Cuban’s straightforward speaking style, we’re expecting a candid conversation, and as we’re snagging him in unprecedented times, our chat may help you understand how at least one leading capitalist views the new world.

Hit the jump to add the call details to your calendar via the AddEvent link and access the Zoom information directly. We’ll take audience questions toward the end, so weigh in. If you aren’t an Extra Crunch member yet, join here for just a few bucks to start.

Cuban joins a schedule packed with all-stars, including Charles Hudson, Mitch and Freada Kapor, Hunter Walk, Roelof Botha and Kirsten Green. And if you missed it, check out our Extra Crunch Live episode with Aileen Lee and Ted Wang.

Details

Here’s the information you’ll need:

The startup behind that deep-fake David Beckham video just raised $3M

The recent global campaign showing Malaria survivors speaking through David Beckham to help raise awareness around the Malaria Must Die initiative spooked a lot of people:

The campaign has already exceeded 400 million impressions globally.

But a behind-the-scenes video explains how the video was made:

The campaign was a joint collaboration between RG/A, Ridley Scott Associates and the clever video startup Synthesia, for Malaria No More.

And it turns out, there’s a huge commercial imperative over this cool technology.

Video production today is highly unscaleable. It’s a physical process with many cameras, many studios and many actors. Once a marketing, product or entertainment video has been shot, it’s very difficult to quickly and affordably edit the creative or translate into different languages.

As co-founder Victor Riparbelli Rasmussen tells me: “We believe generating semi or fully artificial video is more efficient. This digital creation process is already the industry standard with images through applications like PhotoShop. We’re enabling the same for video.”

Synthesia says it can reduce the need to go on set to produce video content. Rather than shooting a new video, it can edit existing assets to create derivative international and personalized videos.

Rasmussen says: “Our solution allows companies to 10x their video output for a tenth of the costs of conventional production. A simple interview-style video can easily involve many people and extensive production costs across the organization. With our solution, a marketing manager at an advertising agency, a Fortune 1000 company or small business can create a new video from behind her screen and have it delivered back within 48 hours.”

The U.K.-based startup has now raised $3.1 million, with the financing led by LDV Capital, early investor Mark Cuban and new investors MMC Ventures, Seedcamp, Martin Varsavsky’s VAS Ventures, TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus, Tiny VC and advertising executive Nigel Morris.

“Video production is exponentially increasing but it is extremely challenging to internationalize and easily personalize advertising, marketing and e-learning videos across cultures,” says Evan Nisselson, general partner at LDV Capital. “Synthesia is leveraging computer vision and artificial intelligence to revolutionize video production for brands and creators.”

Synthesia was founded by a team of researchers and entrepreneurs from UCL, Stanford, TUM and Foundry. Notably, Prof. Matthias Niessner, one of the co-founders of the company, is behind some of the most well-recognized research projects in the field Deep Video Portraits and Face2Face.

The London-based startup came out of stealth in November 2018, airing their first public demo with the BBC, showcasing Synthesia technology by enabling newsreader Matthew Amroliwala to speak three different languages.

Their customers already include global brands such as Accenture, McCann Worldgroup, the Dallas Mavericks and Axiata Group.

But what about deep fakes and the potential for disinformation?

Synthesia says it has strong ethical guidelines and aims to ensure that all the content created is consensual and that actors are in control of their likeness.

So this is not software that you can just download from the web and apply to Bernie Sanders’ face.

Rasmussen says the company is actively working with governments and media organizations to create public awareness and develop technological security mechanisms to ensure that society gets to harness the benefits and reduce potential negative effects from synthetic media technologies.

Well, let’s hope so…