A Baltimore startup that operated for the last 18 months under the name Clean Creative said it is rebranding to clean.io, and raised a $2.5 million seed round.
The company’s funding round was led by Real Ventures, with participation from Grit Capital Partners and Math Capital, as well as individual investors who have led prominent adtech companies.
Founded in 2017 by a team that combines adtech and cybersecurity talent, the company’s technology combats malvertising, which are digital ads that can spread malware. As CEO Matt Gillis told us earlier this year, one way attackers are looking to spread malicious code is through buying a media campaign and spreading the “bad ads.”
By analyzing the behavior of each action on a page, clean.io’s technology can prevent the malware from being released in forms such as “auto-redirects” that take over screens. The company also looks to make it unprofitable for the bad actors. The publishers get paid since the ads render, but no money goes to attackers since their malware is blocked.
Gillis, who served in leading roles at recognizable Baltimore adtech companies such as Millennial Media and AOL/Oath who joined in January, said the company decided to rebrand to go with a shorter and “cleaner” name. “Additionally, rebranding gives us the opportunity to have a broader scope than the narrow nature of the ‘creative’ moniker,” he said.
The company has continued to grow its customer base, Gillis said. Along with the technology that is easy to implement, he said a focus on customer service has been key for the team.
“Their rapid, early customer adoption attests to the acute challenge the digital media ecosystem is facing as well as the effectiveness of the solution the team has built,” said Alan MacIntosh, the lead investor and partner at Real Ventures. “The talent and technology make an impeccable pairing to attack this massive problem that is causing disruption to the industry and its end users.”
Based out of Spaces in South Baltimore’s Stadium Square, the team currently has 25 employees, 20 of which are engineers. The company plans to continue hiring for all types of roles, and Gillis said it will continue to seek out engineering and security talent in the region.
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