The Story Behind My Investment In New Knowledge

If you can remember back nearly two years ago, the tech startup chatter was consumed by a fascination with bots. This was during a time when Facebook Messenger experimented with bots for brands, and when the ecosystem went a little overboard in its hopes for automation. Little did we know back then there was a very ripe use case for bots — but it wasn’t in the way we hoped it would be. From the days of Friendster and MySpace all the way to the 2016 American election, the penetration of social networks and social media were lauded as a welcomed frontier in how society shared and digested information.

Fast-forward to 2018, and the debate around the publishing power social networks — mainly Facebook and Twitter — have over the flow of information is at a fever pitch. Both the stakes and corresponding tension are high. Just this week, Twitter — which we all know has been full of SPAM and fake accounts — admitted to Congress that fake accounts and bots were responsible for retweeting tweets from the account of a Presidential candidate 470,000 times — wow!!! I faintly recall one of the big American retailers getting hacked through a narrow vulnerability in the company’s physical HVAC system —  it’s as if social media became our country’s HVAC system, a perfect playground with lax ground rules for behavior and susceptible to the sophisticated machinations of those with malicious intent.

A few months ago, I was chasing an open-source seed deal (I love open-source) and called my friend Renee who was friends with the founders to put in a good word for me. While I put in an offer to lead the deal, I ended up not winning the deal (they found a great large VC investor), but in the process of talking to Renee about it, she also introduced to me one of her old friends who was forming a new company at the same time. Lucky for me, Renee is an impeccable judge of value, so I took that introduction as well, and I am very glad I did — I ended up investing in the company.

While I am no longer announcing or making public every investment Haystack makes moving forward (I will explain why later), I do think it’s the right time to announce this one — meet New Knowledge. Based in Austin, Texas and with CEO Jonathon Morgan at the helm, I am truly excited to be a major seed investor in the company following the steps of lead investor Moonshots and with participation from one of my mentors, Glenn Solomon of GGV, Capital Factory in Austin, and others.

Jonathon and his team are truly world-class when it comes to helping identify coordinated online attacks and disinformation campaigns. Make sure to check out their website and follow @NewKnowledgeAI o Twitter for updates. Already in pilots and early deployments with major enterprises across a variety of sectors, New Knowledge has the swagger of a dead simple pitch: In today’s age, our individual and corporate or brand reputations now need to learn how to identify and fight against extremely sophisticated and coordinated attacks. These campaigns go beyond politics — this is a new frontier in business communications, and I am super excited to be working closely with Jonathon, our syndicate partners, and the team in Austin to bring this new technology to every corner of the enterprise.