Protect AI raises $35M in funding to help organizations build safer AI and secure their AI & ML systems
As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to gain mainstream adoption and more companies integrate AI into their organization ecosystems, there is a growing chorus of voices emphasizing the importance of AI safety once again.
Just yesterday, we saw the launch of the Frontier Model Forum, a new AI industry group launched by OpenAI, Google, and others to promote safe and responsible AI. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that this initiative alone won’t fully guarantee the security of organizations’ AI and machine learning (ML) systems. That’s why one tech startup is on a mission to help organizations build safer AI and secure their critical AI systems.
Enter Protect AI, a Seattle-based AI startup that helps businesses and organizations in monitoring and safeguards various components of their AI and machine-learning infrastructure and delivers “secure and compliant ML models and AI applications.”
On Wednesday, Protect AI announced it has closed a $35 million Series A led by Evolution Equity Partners, with participation from Salesforce Ventures and existing investors Acrew Capital, boldstart ventures, Knollwood Capital, and Pelion Ventures. The round brings the company’s total funding to $48.5 million.
Protect AI will use the new capital infusion to expand its groundbreaking AI platform, scale its sales and marketing, and increase its go-to-market activities, R&D, and customer success initiatives. In conjunction with the funding, Protect AI also announced that Richard Seewald, Founder and Managing Partner at Evolution Equity Partners has joined its Board of Directors.
In a statement, Richard Seewald, Founder and Managing Partner at Evolution Equity Partners said: “Despite the sheer magnitude of the AI/ML security challenge, none of the industry’s largest cybersecurity vendors currently offer a solution to this problem.” Seewald added: “Protect AI’s founders have built and managed the largest AI/ML businesses in the world for AWS and Oracle and have assembled one of the most accomplished teams I’ve seen in a startup. The company has the vision, technology, and expertise to capture a lion’s share of this new market category.”
Protect AI’s flagship product, AI Radar, is an all-encompassing system designed to safeguard and monitor an organization’s machine learning supply chain. Its role is to help businesses efficiently manage and keep track of crucial components, including operations software, platforms, models, data, services, and cloud hardware. Just like a car needs regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and safety, AI Radar performs routine inspections and adjustments to maintain peak efficiency.
The platform’s effectiveness has been demonstrated through its discovery of vulnerabilities in widely used platforms like MLflow. By promptly sharing its findings, Protect AI prompted MLflow to release a patch for the identified security issue. This real-world example underscores the significance of actively monitoring AI systems and implementing preventive measures.
In the fiercely competitive domain of AI cybersecurity, Protect AI faces formidable rivals in the form of well-funded startups like Hidden Layer, Robust Intelligence, and CalypsoAI. However, what sets Protect AI apart is its comprehensive approach to AI protection, covering every aspect of the machine learning supply chain for businesses.
In a statement, Protect AI founder and CEO Ian Swanson said: “AI applications are being deployed at an extraordinary and unprecedented rate across all industries and business functions, with virtually no visibility and oversight into the assets being used in their ML systems. Protect AI provides new and innovative solutions, like AI Radar, that enable organizations to build, deploy, and manage safer AI by monitoring, detecting and remediating security vulnerabilities and threats in real-time.”
“This new funding will provide the resources to help us scale Protect AI and capitalize on the significant market opportunity in front of us. We are pleased to welcome Richard to our board, and both Evolution Equity Partners and Salesforce Ventures as new investors,” Swanson added.