Moonshot, an Irish co-founded tech start-up that uses data analytics to tackle online threats, has secured $7 million (€5.8 million) in investment.
Founded in London in 2015 by Irishman Ross Frenett and Vidhya Ramalingam, the company was originally focused on countering violent extremism and terrorism. It has since evolved to develop 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 aims to end online harms and provide vulnerable people with positive, supportive messages and services. The company has delivered threat monitoring and analysis, digital campaigns, tailored interventions, and a range of other services in more than 55 countries and 33 languages, for governments, tech companies, and international organisations.
Its clients include the US department of homeland security, USAID, the US department of state, the UK home office, as well as tech giants such as Facebook and Google.
Among the areas it has monitored is the use by dissident Irish republican groups of online networks to recruit and spread propaganda, and the rise of the extreme right in Ireland.
Mr Frenett said Moonshot intends to use the funding to drive international expansion, further develop its technology and expand operations to allow it to counter harms such as disinformation and organised crime.
The company, which recently opened an office in Washington DC, is also intent on developing its product to provide solutions in the corporate security space.
“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,” he said.
The new investment round was led by transatlantic venture capital firm Beringea and Mercia Asset Management.
Mr Frenett previously served as director of the Against Violent Extremism network, a global network of former extremists, defectors and survivors of violent extremism.
Ms Ramalingam, his co-founder and co-chief executive, is recognised internationally for her role leading global responses to extremism and terrorism. Following the 2011 attacks in Norway, she was appointed to lead the European Union’s first inter-governmental initiative on far-right terrorism and extremism.