Welcoming Hazy to the Notion Family
The data-driven companies that we invest in, tend to have a very similar strategy (give or take a few variables). Identify a pain point, build a product, sell to customers, use the captured data to train and strengthen your offering, keep selling, repeat.
Their ability to acquire, refine and use data effectively is a core competency in building a defensible moat and something we work closely on with our portfolio companies.
Unfortunately, high profile leaks and robust regulatory changes risk turning a company’s data from its biggest asset to its greatest liability. Fresh in everyone’s mind is Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, these events have now become so familiar that we are quick to forget that Equifax, Bupa, Target, MyFitnessPal – to name a few – are no strangers to such data breaches.
At best, such a violation creates a PR nightmare. At worst, it results in colossal risk to company value and customer security. These issues arise from a third party with ulterior motives, a security breach, or simply human error. As such, regulators, driven by greater consumer awareness about how their data is used, have rolled out a set of continually evolving guidelines like GDPR and HIPAA to which companies must adhere.
Consumers should be confident that whenever they share their personal data with any organisation, it is safe and only used in the way it was intended. This data is often sensitive and could easily be used to harm if it fell into the wrong hands.
That being said, this is a responsibility that has become increasingly hard to manage with the complexity associated with an API driven landscape and an ever-evolving regulatory environment. Companies face a tradeoff between user privacy and data utility, in a setting where you can’t automatically identify sensitive information, obfuscate it while maintaining utility nor can you truly understand the level of risk you are exposed to.
For that reason, we are excited to welcome Hazy (previously Anon.AI) to the Notion family.
Hazy is redefining the way businesses use and share data. As companies work to navigate the changing landscape of data privacy, they’re building the tools to help them protect their user’s personal information. Hazy’s platform enables businesses to collaborate ethically with data, using advanced anonymisation and AI techniques to optimise customer privacy and data utility.
Harry Keen (CEO) and James Arthur (CTO) spun out Hazy from University College London (UCL) in 2017, after previously having worked together. They experienced first hand the problems of implementing data anonymisation while working in SMEs managing developer access to production data.
“Privacy-preserving data sharing and analysis, of the kind being pioneered by Anon AI, is massively important with potential to reshape the data economy and beyond. More immediately, the challenges of GDPR are on everybody’s mind and automated anonymisation can play a critical role in addressing them.” – Professor Anthony Finkelstein CBE FREng DSc, Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security to the UK Government
Their integrated workflow tool automatically anonymises and adapts to changing datasets and makes data privacy simple to manage. While in the past, teams would have full-time developers dedicated purely to servicing requests for redacted data, Hazy can automate this faster with a low-touch tool, doing so at a fraction of the cost and, in a way, is far better suited to agile and fast-paced data-centric environments.
We are excited to be joined by Albion, Cylon, Posturban Ventures, LCIF and M12 on this journey. A stronger stance on privacy shouldn’t hinder data-driven companies.
Transparent, adaptive and practical ways of protecting personal information will strengthen trust with users and regulatory bodies, allowing vital industries like healthcare and cybersecurity to continue using every tool at their disposal to improve their products and services. We are excited to be working with Hazy as they build the internet’s anonymisation layer.
Posted by Alex Flamant, VP at Notion Capital