I’m excited to announce our investment in SentiLink — having led their Series A, we’re now doubling down on their Series B alongside Craft Ventures.
I first met SentiLink’s founders, Naftali and Max, at Affirm, where I was impressed at how they built out the risk org. Affirm was struggling with a fairly esoteric problem called synthetic fraud, which is very different from identity theft / identity fraud — it’s actually a fake identity (sometimes the SSN of a real, deceased individual), complete with a real credit history, controlled by a real criminal. This problem required a different set of tools (since credit bureaus often show the “synthetic” person as being…of good credit, through real loans that were paid back by the criminal!), and Naftali and Max built an incredible system to solve this problem.
It turns out this problem was not unique to Affirm, so in 2017 Max and Naftali decided to start SentiLink. Every financial services company has a synthetic fraud issue. There are many companies that work to solve various facets of fraud and KYC, but the space is enormously fragmented. No company sees everything because, simply put, there are too many vendors doing the exact same thing with varying levels of efficacy and cost, and information is not shared between competing identity systems. SentiLink is different — in just a few short years, SentiLink has built “the” synthetic fraud solution. Their revenue and client growth have been extraordinary, with almost 100 financial institutions standardizing on SentiLink and saving hundreds of millions of dollars a year by doing so.
What’s truly exciting about SentiLink is how it can, and will, use a now ubiquitous synthetic fraud solution (often part of every loan underwriting or account opening decision) to expand to ID verification writ large. ID verification, KYC, anti-fraud — all of these spaces are highly fragmented with dozens of vendors, and hence no true network effects. But the power of SentiLink is that by comprehensively solving an esoteric yet ubiquitous problem (synthetic fraud) for virtually every financial services company, SentiLink now has an opportunity to be the standard in identity verification — and really propel things forward. “Is this a real identity” and “is this user the owner of this real identity” are very hard problems that need to be solved for more financial services and commerce to fully move online and work seamlessly.
All of us at a16z are incredibly excited to be working with this enormously talented team. Criminals beware!
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