Business Technology

Thursday 22 August 2019

Data privacy software co-founded by Irishman raises €3.8m in seed funding

Cillian Kieran
Cillian Kieran
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

A data privacy software startup, co-founded by former Dublin digital agency co-founder Cillian Kieran, has raised $4.2m (€3.8m) in seed funding.

New York-based Ethyca’s software claims to automate data privacy, making it easier to meet compliance obligations under a raft of new privacy law, including GDPR. Built as an API, it’s designed to be developer-friendly “in the same way Stripe has made payments easy for internet businesses”, allowing privacy to be integrated at an early stage in a company’s product suite.

IA Ventures and Founders Collective led the funding round with Table Management and Sinai Ventures also participating. Jon Steinberg of Cheddar and Moat co-founder Jonah Goodhart — through his investment vehicle WGI — also invested.

Cillian Kieran is the previous founder of the Dublin-based digital and marketing agency CKSK as well as a New York-based consultancy, BrandCommerce. The other co-founder of Ethyca is Miguel Burger-Calderon, previously part of the founding team of the online news platform targeting women, Elite Daily.

“Working with a number of global-facing brands at BrandCommerce, we saw the need for a solution that gives peace of mind to legal teams and allows engineers to iterate on their products with the same flexibility they always had,” said Cillian Kieran.

“Ethyca will ensure online businesses have the highest standard of data protection for their customers, who are increasingly voting with their feet. Ethyca takes that pain away from developers and allows them to concentrate on building core products.”

According to his company biography, Cillian Kieran is an “engineer and physics dropout” who previously co-founded CKSK, with Simon Keane. CKSK had a number of high profile clients, including Heineken, Three and the VHI. However, it got into trouble and was liquidated earlier this year, blaming the collapse on a combination of cancelled contracts and Brexit.

The funding for Ethyca will be used “to build out the team and product”, according to Kieran.

Ethyca’s funding round comes in a week where privacy is in the international spotlight, with Facebook agreeing to pay a €4.5bn fine to the US Federal Trade Commission for shortcomings in its privacy practices.

The social media giant, which employs 3,000 people at its European headquarters in Dublin, has also agreed to add new corporate restructuring to better safeguard the privacy of its users.

The US authorities say that Facebook had failed to prevent access to data from third party companies, including Microsoft and Sony. Under the settlement, Facebook’s board will create an independent privacy committee that removes “unfettered control by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over decisions affecting user privacy.”

Facebook also agreed to pay a fine of €89.7m to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to settle allegations that it misled investors about the seriousness of the misuse of users’ data.

”Companies that are growing and ambitious can’t just shrug off billion dollar fines as a result of not complying with new and future privacy regulations,” said Roger Ehrenberg, managing partner for lead investor IA Ventures.

“The tsunami of public concern and growing regulation affects every industry vertical, not just tech. I personally wouldn’t invest in any company that is looking to build product without being able to address privacy and data regulation concerns. Ethyca’s talented team has built a beautifully simple solution that solves this complex ever evolving problem with their API.”

Online Editors

Also in Business