Miami, Florida-based facial recognition startup Kairos today announced that it has raised $4 million from individual investor E. Jay Saunders, chair and CEO of regulation technology company Domus Semo Sancus, bringing Kairos’ total raised to $17 million. The fresh capital will be used to “help [Kairos] continue innovating at the vanguard of face-recognition technology,” CEO Melissa Doval said.
“I have always admired Kairos and its visionary work in pushing face-recognition technology beyond law-enforcement uses while also ensuring its applications fall under self-imposed, ethical standards,” she added. “I’m especially proud to be leading our company’s dynamic team in my beloved hometown, as well as our innovative research and development team in Singapore, and look forward to making this inspiring brand even stronger.”
Kairos, which launched in 2012 with an API platform that taps computer vision and deep learning to recognize faces in videos, photos, and the real world, has been embroiled in a legal battle with company founder Brian Brackeen for the better part of six months. The company terminated Brackeen from his role as CEO in October 2018, TechCrunch reported, on the grounds that he misled shareholders and potential investors, misappropriated funds, and failed to report to the board of directors. And Kairos subsequently filed a lawsuit against Brackeen (spearheaded by Kairos COO Mary Wolff), alleging theft and breach of fiduciary duties.
Brackeen countersued in November, alleging that Kairos’ board of directors refused to pay him compensation to which he was entitled and that the company and Doval “intentionally” destroyed his reputation through “fraudulent conduct,” the publication of “malicious falsehoods,” and the “commission of illegal corporate acts.” He’s seeking $10 million in damages.
Brackeen hoped to be reinstated as CEO in a meeting of shareholders this year, in part by raising $3.5 million in venture funding from impact investment fund Beyond Capital Markets. But the shareholders instead chose to install Doval, who’d been acting as interim CEO in Brackeen’s absence.
“Working with teams I trust at companies I believe in, is incredibly important to me, and Mel’s unwavering leadership of Kairos is the perfect example,” Saunders said in a statement. “The startup’s enduring dedication to both innovation and ethics in technology makes the Miami business community proud and drives the city’s tech sector forward.”
Doval says that Kairos will continue to invest in its on-premises and cloud products, including the Kairos Protocol, a biometrics verification system for cryptocurrency transactions that verifies the person connected to a wallet to prevent theft.