Factmata

Early Stage

Scalable AI to combat the spread of fake news online

Analytics

Raised to Date: Raised: $338,684

Aggregate Commitments $

Platform

Wefunder

Start Date

06/29/2021

Close Date

04/30/2022

Min. Goal

$50,000

Max. Goal

$1,070,000

Min. Investment

$100

Security Type

Equity - Preferred

Funding Type

RegCF

Series

Seed

Pre-Money Valuation

$6,000,000

Rolling Commitments $

Status

Active

Reporting Date

09/19/2021

Days Remaining

223

% of Min. Goal

677%

% of Max. Goal

32%

Likelihood of Max
likely
Avg. Daily Raise

$4,130

Momentum
cool
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Location

Claymont, Delaware

Industry

Marketing & Advertising

Tech Sector

AdTech

Distribution Model

B2B

Margin

Medium

Capital Intensity

Low

Business Type

High Growth

Factmata, with a pre-money valuation of $6 million, is raising funds on Wefunder. The company uses artificial intelligence to stop the spread of fake, misleading, and hateful news. The patent-pending AI technology of Factmata detects disinformation, misinformation, and hate speech about brands, products, or issues and helps those who can flag it and take it down. Dhruv Ghulati founded Factmata in March 2017. The current crowdfunding round has a minimum target of $50,000 and a maximum target of $1,070,000, and the funds will be used for operational payroll, general administration, product development, and sales and marketing. Factmata is led by an experienced team and is the first UK government-approved tool to detect disinformation.

Summary Profit and Loss Statement

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Revenue

$0

$0

COGS

$0

$0

Tax

$-175

$-450

 

 

Net Income

$-306,401

$-1,470,956

Summary Balance Sheet

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Cash

$1,030

$290,599

Accounts Receivable

$260

$7,359

Total Assets

$988,737

$715,623

Short-Term Debt

$542,983

$182,736

Long-Term Debt

$3,741,328

$3,679,531

Total Liabilities

$4,284,311

$3,862,267

Financials as of: 06/29/2021
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Ratings

Analyst Report

Synopsis

The rise of the internet and the proliferation of alternative news sources has caused traditional news sources to become far less popular. Network evening news ratings declined by 50% between 1970 and 2005, as has the circulation of daily newspapers. Now, it is common for people to get their news from Twitter, Facebook, and an explosion of news sites ranging from Buzzfeed to Breitbart. This fragmentation of the news media landscape has spawned the fake news era, where “alternate facts” compete with verified information and misinformation or disinformation is rampant. In 2019, 8% of the news sources that people engaged with on social media were dubious. In 2020, it was 17%. 

Fake news has never been more insidious than in the last five years. While experts are still debating the influence of fake news on the 2016 US presidential election, they do know that more than one in 10 Americans relied on Facebook and other social media sites as their most important source of election coverage. Fake news became deadly during the rise of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that thousands of people were hospitalized and hundreds killed due to COVID-19 misinformation. 

Countering the spread of fake news online has never been more important, and Factmata is stepping up. The company has spent the last five years developing a natural language processing engine that gathers posts from social media sites, clusters them into “narratives,” and provides data on the dangerousness and pervasiveness of those narratives. Factmata’s technology can be used by governments and other societal institutions to limit the spread of fake news, but it can also be used by brands and agencies seeking to monitor their online reputations. 

Factmata’s current Wefunder raise has been rated a Top Deal by the KingsCrowd investment team. 

Price

Factmata is raising offering equity at a $6 million valuation. Factmata is still pre-revenue according to financials from 2020, but the company reports that initial revenue traction is rolling in (with about $5,000 per month in recurring revenue thus far). A $6 million valuation is rather high for a company with no proven monetization. However, Factmata owns sophisticated, patent-pending technology that has been developed over five years with millions of dollars of research and development investment. A multi-million dollar valuation is therefore a bit more justified. Nonetheless, Factmata’s valuation is still slightly high given the company’s lack of revenue, so Factmata’s price rating is right around average. 

Market

Factmata has an ambitious vision of reducing the spread of fake news online to repair the fabric of our institutional and societal trust. However, the company will generate most of its revenue from a slightly less noble cause: helping brands monitor their reputations online. As such, Factmata is mostly playing in the crisis communications market. That’s a rather tricky market to measure. The full global public relations market was valued at $88.13 billion in 2020. It’s expected to grow by 7.4% each year and reach $129.25 billion by 2025. Of course, crisis communications makes up one narrow segment of that market. Estimating that crisis communications composes 5% of the broader public relations market, crisis communications alone is worth around $4.4 billion today. 

Factmata also fits within the online reputation management industry, a much smaller market. It was valued at $183.83 million in 2019 with expected growth to $410.71 million by 2025 (a CAGR of 14.33%). 

Factmata occupies a unique position at the intersection of public relations and crisis communications, online reputation management, and the possibility of additional revenue from governments and other public institutions seeking to monitor the spread of fake news. As such, the company’s market potential is more difficult to measure than most businesses. However, none of these eligible markets are particularly large, and Factmata doesn’t precisely match the needs of any. As a result, Factmata’s market rating is merely average.

Team

Factmata was founded by Dhruv Ghula, an impressive young engineer and entrepreneur. Ghula attended the London School of Economics, receiving a bachelor’s in economics. He went on to work at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a financial analyst and joined an enterprise web data business as a data product manager. He subsequently attended University College London to earn a master’s in computer science and machine learning. It was at UCL that Ghula first began working on Factmata, collaborating with two professors to tackle fake news online. Ghula served as Factmata’s CEO for the company’s first four years but handed the reins to a new CEO in 2021. He now serves as the company’s chairman and president. 

Factmata’s CEO is now Antony Cousins, an experienced communications manager. Cousins has more than 15 years of experience managing communications for the UK government, namely with the Ministry of Defence and the British Army. In these roles, Cousins participated in anti-propaganda campaigns in some of the most vulnerable regions of the world, including in Afghanistan during the height of the war on terror. After leaving government service, Cousins spent five years at enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) company ProFinda, including one year as chief of staff. 

The Factmata team also includes several technical leaders, though they are relatively young and lack significant credentials. More impressively, Factmata is supported by a number of leading investors and advisors. These include Mark Cuban; the founders of Craigslist, Twitter, and Zynga; and several other executives at name-brand companies. 

Factmata’s CEO and president are highly credentialed and impressive. While the remainder of the team — as listed on Factmata’s raise page — do not seem particularly experienced, Factmata also benefits from a roster of all-star investors and advisors. All in all, Factmata has a strong team with technical expertise and domain-specific experience. Thus, the company’s team rating is quite high.  

Differentiators

Factmata is not the only company working to end the spread of misinformation and disinformation, but its approach does seem to be one of the strongest. Logically is another AI-powered company providing fact-checking services, but the company seems to rely slightly more on human fact checkers than Factmata does. Indeed, most other fake news-fighting competitors have a less automated platform. These human-powered fact-checking operations aren’t as scalable as Factmata’s artificial intelligence engine. 

Factmata is also distinct from other mere fact-checking tools in that the company’s natural language processing engine clusters posts and stories into narratives. These narratives make it easy for users to monitor the spread of harmful information at a high level rather than checking into each individual story. This clustered approach is theoretically more helpful to both brands and institutions. The meta-trends are undoubtedly more useful to monitor and combat than posts that must be individually fact-checked. 

Without a sophisticated understanding of natural language processing and the various considerations when analyzing fake news online, it’s difficult to attest to Factmata’s precise differentiators. However, the company has 10 pending patents, and an AI-based, narrative clustering approach offers clear advantages over what few competitors exist in this space. As a result, Factmata’s differentiation rating is one of its highest. 

Performance

Factmata is a high-performing company across several dimensions. First, Factmata is funded by an all-star list of investors and advisors, ranging from Mark Cuban to the co-founder of Twitter. Those funders have contributed more than $3.8 million to assist with research and development, alongside Factmata’s multiple research and development grants worth more than £1 million (approximately $1,374,685). All of the time and money spent on developing the Factmata engine is paying off. The company has filed for 10 US patents on its AI-powered content-scoring technology. 

In addition, Factmata has demonstrated strong early traction through pilot partnerships with both businesses and institutions. In 2018, Factmata integrated with Sovrn, a supply-side ad platform focused on fake news. Factmata also partnered with Taboola — one of the largest ad networks in the world — to remove hundreds of propaganda sites from its network. Family-focused content publisher Social Sweethearts used Factmata to check its content for clickbait before publishing. Factmata’s partnership with Launch4D, an ad-bidding platform, helps brands ensure that they don’t advertise on fake news pages. Most relevant to Factmata’s social mission, the company became the first listed tool on the UK government contracting system to offer a disinformation monitoring service. 

In terms of revenue, Factmata is not yet successful. Per the company’s SEC filing, Factmata has not generated any revenue yet. The company’s burn is relatively high, with a $1.45 million net loss in 2019 and a $300,000 net loss in 2020. On its raise page, though, Factmata reports that a handful of early customers are now paying for the company’s Narrative Monitoring Platform, with roughly $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue so far. 

Factmata is not high-performing in terms of monetization, but the company shows many signs of success. It has been well funded by leading investors, owns proprietary and apparently industry-leading algorithms, and has piloted its tool with a number of ad providers and institutions. Factmata clearly has strong traction, so the company’s performance score is high. 

Risks

Factmata’s risk profile is roughly average compared to other crowdfunding opportunities. On some dimensions, Factmata is a very risky investment. Financially, the company generated zero revenue through 2020 with relatively high burn. Factmata is also carrying a good deal of debt and has relatively little cash in the bank. There’s a time risk given that it could take years for Factmata to realize its ultimate mission of eliminating fake news online, particularly given the complexity of the international institutional partnerships that the company would have to forge. There’s also team risk in that Factmata has a single founder, a relatively small leadership team, and hasn’t yet staffed up in all areas (sales and marketing don’t seem to be strengths at the moment). On other metrics, Factmata is relatively low-risk because the company’s product is funded by impressive investors, already exists, and has generated decent traction.

Bearish Outlook

Factmata offers a technologically sophisticated product that is not yet generating significant revenue. That might cause some prospective investors to pause. It’s difficult to be completely sure that Factmata’s product performs as advertised. Even if it is fully functional, the market for this product isn’t yet proven. The need for monitoring misinformation and disinformation online has only emerged in the last decade or so. As a result, no one can be certain that a company like Factmata even has the potential to scale significantly. 

In addition, there are a couple of operational concerns that prospective investors should be aware of. There seems to have been some turbulence on the Factmata founding team. Academics who initially collaborated on Factmata don’t seem to be involved anymore, and Factmata doesn’t seem to have any particularly sophisticated AI engineers on staff anymore. The company is also low on cash and high on debt, both concerning given minimal revenue traction thus far. However, Factmata’s CEO and president are credentialed, experienced in both AI and crisis communications, and are backed by an impressive roster of investors and advisors. The company has had no trouble raising capital thus far, so financial concerns are somewhat mitigated. All in all, Factmata is in a strong position relative to most other crowdfunding opportunities.

Bullish Outlook

Factmata is addressing an incredibly urgent problem with seemingly best-in-class, patent-pending technology. The last five years have demonstrated the deeply concerning impacts of rampant misinformation and disinformation. As a result, the demand for technology like Factmata is likely to grow meaningfully over the next several years. Governments and other public institutions should be strongly interested in leveraging a tool like Factmata’s platform. As the company works toward that public service work, brands and agencies interested in reputation management can likely provide a strong stream of revenue. 

Moreover, Factmata is well-established and highly credentialled. Founder Dhruv Ghula is a recognized leader in this industry and has a number of accolades and accomplishments to prove it. Ghula now splits day-to-day operational responsibilities with CEO Antony Cousins, who also seems to be respected in the field of institutional communications and propaganda management. Factmata is also supported by an impressive list of investors and advisors, including Mark Cuban, the co-founder of Twitter, and many others. It’s not often that crowdfunders have the chance to invest alongside those big names. 

All in all, Factmata seems to be a respectable company with an innovative solution to the fake news problem. With unprecedented insight into the narrative clusters of misinformation and disinformation campaigns across the internet, both brands and public institutions can nimbly monitor and respond to fake news trends. While revenue traction is yet to be proven, Factmata shows many positive signals of a company solving an urgent problem at the right time with the right technology. 

Executive Summary

Factmata is a fake news-monitoring platform helping both brands and public institutions monitor clusters of false information on the internet. The company offers multiple tools to oppose fake news, ranging from fact-checking software to consumer-friendly fact checkers and a Narrative Monitoring Platform that lends itself to enterprise sales. 

The fake news issue is in desperate need of a solution, and Factmata is leading the charge. The company has spent more than five years of research and development alongside leading academics and raised millions in capital raised from all-star investors. Strong traction is also becoming evident through several successful partnerships with advertising platforms and governments. The company’s future is bright, with the recent launch of the business-friendly Narrative Monitoring Platform likely to begin driving revenue. Therefore, Factmata has been rated a Top Deal. 

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd staff pick or ratings for this company, please reach out to support@kingscrowd.com

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