Startups

Baltimore-based clean.io was acquired by global cybersecurity company HUMAN

The anti-malvertising company experienced a lot of growth over the last three years, including a $2.5 million seed round, before the acquisition.

clean.io team members in then-new offices at Natty Boh Tower in early 2020.

(Courtesy photo)

Update: This article has been updated since initial publication to incorporate new comments from clean.io CEO Geoff Stupay. (11/9/22, 10:20 a.m.) 

International cyber company HUMAN Security Inc. kicked off November by closing its acquisition of Brewers Hill-HQed clean.io.

HUMAN cofounder and CEO Tamer Hassan told Technical.ly via email that the acquisition, whose financial terms were not publicly disclosed, did not lead to layoffs at either company. The nearly 30 employees of clean.io, which offers services protecting websites and publishers from malvertising and e-commerce fraud, are all now working for HUMAN.

“By teaming up with clean.io, HUMAN is gaining significant talent with deep domain expertise along with increased signal across the internet, enhancing our collective protection capabilities for our customers across the entire digital ecosystem,” Hassan said in a statement.

Hassan added that HUMAN has locations in cities all over the world and plans to continue operating in Baltimore.

Geoff Stupay, clean.io cofounder and CEO, will now serve as HUMAN’s vice president of media strategy. Stupay said in a statement that there is a great need for protection against cybercriminals, which has been clean.io’s mission since its creation in 2017.

“To that end, we are thrilled to be joining forces with HUMAN,” Stupay said in the announcement. “Our combined lens, telemetry and mitigation across the ecosystem will deliver the most effective and comprehensive protection for our combined customers.”

Stupay added via email that the companies had attempted a combination in 2019, but found that other financial and management developments complicated the task too much.

“The timing was not right, with clean.io close to completing our Series A and HUMAN in the midst of an acquisition by Goldman Sachs,” Stupay told Technical.ly. “After HUMAN completed their $100 million raise, led by WestCap, we agreed that this was the right time to join forces, and that is what set us down the path to this deal.”

This is just one of HUMAN’s big moves this year, as the company also announced a $100 million funding round and another combination — a merger with fellow cybersecurity company PerimeterX — earlier in 2022.

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clean.io has similarly made a mark on Baltimore’s tech scene in the last few years. The company won Technical.ly’s Baltimore startup of the year award in 2019 before taking the top spot on our 2020 Baltimore RealLIST Startups roster. Both awards recognized the progress clean.io made in customer and team growth, as well as its raising $2.5 million in seed funding.

The company once known as Clean Creative also joined the Baltimore Tracks coalition, which comprises of local tech entities trying to increase diversity and opportunity in Baltimore’s tech scene, in the spring of 2021. Around the same time, clean.io released a tool focused on protection in e-commerce and reached the number one slot on Product Hunt.

Going forward, Stupay said in a Q&A on HUMAN’s website that this acquisition can let the combined company tackle problems more holistically.

“When you think about the threat landscape as it exists today, you have companies like clean.io on one side that are protecting what comes through ads from advertisers,” Stupay said. “Then on the other side, you have companies like HUMAN who are protecting where the advertisers are displaying. So by coming together we will be offering the most comprehensive end-to-end protection solution for advertisers, platforms and publishers.”

Stupay also described the acquisition as “just another example of the power of the Baltimore tech scene,” from which clean.io drew employees while building its team.

“Our team and our technology were some of the main factors that drew HUMAN to make this acquisition, which is evidenced by the fact that every clean.io employee has moved over to HUMAN,” he said in an email. “As we look to the future, I expect that HUMAN will continue to expand our presence in Baltimore as we grow our business, thereby further strengthening the Baltimore tech scene.”


Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: clean.io
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