This NYC Startup’s AI Software Reinvents CyberSecurity and AdTech



Pixm is an Artificial Intelligence software company on a mission. Actually, two missions:

1. Make the first browser technology that can authenticate visual content in real time. This is designed to make phishing and other forms of malicious social engineering obsolete – and they’re currently the only security vendors with this capability.

2. With consumers sharing over one billion images every day on social media, Pixm allows you to leverage this massive image data to discover and target customers in ways that have never before been possible. And find out how and where your brand is trending (and who’s making it happen), as well as what are your competitors up to.

Founder Chris Cleveland (‘13SEAS) talks about the Pixm real-time trust engine.

Tell us about the product and what sets it apart.

Pixm is inventing the future of cyber-security and ad-tech with cutting edge visual recognition software. Our cyber-security mission is to make the first browser technology that can authenticate visual content in real time. This is designed to make phishing and other forms of malicious social engineering obsolete. No other security vendors offer this capability. Status quo security software focuses on back-end HTML verification, while our software authenticates the front-end impression – what the user sees. This means that if a client or employee encounters a secure login page with just their organization’s logo, an automatic IP-verification will be triggered to protect them. So this does not hinge on URL or HTML verification, SSL-certificates, behavior training, or damage control. Pixm’s purpose is to entirely prevent the problem by verifying the things users see and trust.


Chris Cleveland

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

Phishing by itself costs private organizations $11 billion per year ($5 billion from direct losses and $6 billion from reputation damage). Financial institutions make up a sizeable percentage of these private sector losses, which are Pixm’s initial target customers for customized plugins to protect their employees and clients.

What are your thoughts on adtech and privacy?

Whether consciously or not, we’ve all opted into this system where, every day, we use amazing free tools that prior generations couldn’t have imagined. Think about how much easier it is to self-educate, collaborate on a project, or start a company than it was 10 years ago because of services like Google search, Facebook, and StackExchange, for which we don’t pay a dime. In my view, ad-tech is simply the economic mechanism that allows this free online wonder world to sustain itself. So, is it creepy that brands and advertisers know where we browse, what we search for, and what we like on Facebook? My answer: kinda, but not really. You can always sign off the grid if you want, but it’s probably best to self-educate about your digital footprint, and from time to time remind yourself what you are getting for free.

What is the business model?

Our customers would pay a monthly or annual fee for our software. This would include consumer as well as enterprise versions, with separate pricing models.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

The next milestone is a product ready to download from the site.

Tell us about your experience with the Columbia Startup Lab thus far and your decision to apply.

People, above all else. The peer quality and proximity to a great network makes all the difference. My technical advisors are mostly Columbia professors, which also makes it a natural fit.

If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?

An ideal investor would be a former entrepreneur whose mentoring, network and attention are more valuable than capital. In other words, a substantial contribution to the probability of success is valued over size of capital contribution or particular deal arrangements. While we may be early for VC funding now, First Round Capital has a pretty strong reputation in NYC for the caliber of its investors.

Why are you launching your business in New York?

NYC is home to 45 of the Fortune 500 companies. Pixm is an enterprise business, so NYC is our town.

Giants or Jets?

Jets, baby.

About the author: AlleyWatch

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