Ethyca Founder and CEO Cillian Kieran does not believe tech companies should measure their success by how much money they raise. A fruitful funding round can be a symbol of validation that an organization is moving in the right direction, but Kieran said success ultimately comes down to effective services and products for customers.
Kieran hopes Ethyca can continue to move forward after announcing it has received $13.5 million in Series A funding, bringing it to a total of $20 million to date. Those who participated in this latest funding round included PayPal Co-Founder Max Levchin and former Chief Data Scientist of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy DJ Patil.
Ethyca completed the transaction during a tumultuous time, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep the world on edge. Kieran said investors had expressed interest in Ethyca before the pandemic took hold and that it was able to ride the momentum throughout the process.
Privacy has been a hot-button issue during the pandemic, and Kieran feels it is one of the reasons why the funding round continued as the situation rolls on. A lot of the privacy challenges companies faced before COVID-19 have not gone away, and the pandemic has introduced a whole new set of concerns that need to be addressed.
"The pandemic is affecting everybody’s lives greatly and is a monumental issue that we will ultimately need to heed and address, but we all have to be cognizant that data privacy regulations are not going to go away," said Kieran. "As we get to a new normal with the pandemic or indeed we recover from it over the next 18 to 24 months, privacy regulations will continue to compound themselves. They will, if anything, accelerate on the basis of the serious risks around the use of medical and location data together as a result of things like contact tracing."
Kieran acknowledged the pandemic will impact Ethyca's timeline, but its plans for its new financial resources remains unchanged. He said they plan to hire 10 positions, which include senior engineering roles, as well as privacy and machine learning specialists.
"That is to support the existing product because things like the CCPA’s enforcement date has caused an uptick in demand over the last few months," said Kieran. "It has focused the minds of businesses on addressing the issues ahead of them, like any potential prosecution from the California attorney general's office."
Ethyca also plans to use the cash influx to support the release of developer tools to help automate impact assessments for data scientists and engineers. The tools are expected to be released within the next couple of months.
The funding round coincided with the vendor's release of Ethyca Pro, a self-service solution designed to shorten the set up time of compliance tasks and perform them via automation. Kieran said users can sign up for the service on Ethyca's website, where they choose a plan based on their size and how many databases and warehouses they need for their operations.
Users then conduct an onboarding process Kieran likened to TurboTax. During the course of the setup, Kieran said users can message privacy engineers to answer questions they may have as they navigate the solution. He estimates the entire process can take an hour for smaller business and up to a day for larger enterprises. Once the setup is complete, users will be able to automate the fulfillment of data subject requests, data mapping and consent processing.
Automation has helped Ethyca streamline a process it previously took its engineers day to perform manually, Kieran said.
"We had 80% of our engineering workforce focused on getting this product ready for the last half year. It’s been a significant journey, and I think the fruits of the labor hold true," said Kieran. "Even if the individual using the tool is not a privacy specialist themselves, the product takes the responsibility to help guide them through the process as best as possible. It’s been a significant undertaking not without its challenges, but that’s the crux of it. We didn’t sign up to do this to solve simple problems."
Kieran and Ethyca may have their roadmap set out for the foreseeable future, but that does not mean it cannot change down the line. Kieran is not sure if Ethyca will open itself up for another round of funding, but he knows it would only be under certain circumstances.
"You got to build a great product that solves a problem for customers, so for now we will focus on that," said Kieran. "If we do that well, we may never need to raise money again, but if we need to, it’ll be to accelerate things further rather than trying to bridge a gap financially."
Image courtesy of Ethyca
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