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Spot AI raises $40M to build smarter CCTV security camera tech

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CCTV and other kinds of security cameras have a strong Big Brother vibe, but for many of us that may be because we don’t really understand or know how the footage they pick up ever gets used. Today, a startup called Spot AI that’s built a system to help answer that question at least in part — it provides a cloud-based analytics system that “reads” that footage to get insights about not just security, but also safety and operational activity — is announcing $40 million in funding to grow.

Scale Venture Partners is leading the round, with past backers Redpoint Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and new investors StepStone Group and Modern Venture Partners also investing. This brings the total raised by Spot AI to $63 million. Spot AI, appropriately for a security camera company, existed in stealth for years before it came out into the public in 2021: at that point it had already raised $22 million.

As with that round, Spot AI is not disclosing its valuation, but Tanuj Thapliyal, Spot AI’s CEO, noted that it is a “significant up round” based on the fact that in the last 12 months, the startup’s revenues have grown fivefold, and that customers — it has “thousands” in the U.S., both small businesses and large enterprises across some 17 industries, which aren’t really those that include “knowledge workers” per se but businesses in areas like manufacturing and retail that have critical physical components and a lot of activity — have tripled in the same period. Its customers have included SpaceX, transportation company Cheeseman, Mixt and Northland Cold Storage.

And it turns out that giving people a better reason for using their video cameras makes them much more interested in using and looking at that video data.

“People are using our cameras a lot,” Thapliyal said in an interview. “Forty percent of our monthly active users log in every day. There is value to be had here.”

Fundraising has gotten very challenging recently, but Thapliyal said that the San Francisco startup hasn’t seen that itself, in part because of those growth numbers and also because it’s bringing something different to market.

CCTV and other security cameras have become as ubiquitous as electric lighting in many workplaces these days, especially those with high traffic. Spot AI estimates that since 2015 the number has doubled and now stands at 1 billion devices globally. In many cases, cameras are networked and link into bigger systems where footage can be viewed by security teams. But that’s typically where a lot of the usage ends, and so that is where Spot AI is hoping to pick things up.

Spot AI provides a few different levels of service: For customers that already have networked cameras, they can integrate these with Spot AI’s platform so that it can start reading and parsing the video data. Those that either don’t use cameras already or that don’t have networked systems, or want the full system as envisioned by Spot AI, can potentially use free hardware built and provided by Spot AI itself.

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Andrew Sabastian is a tech whiz who is obsessed with everything technology. Basically, he's a software and tech mastermind who likes to feed readers gritty tech news to keep their techie intellects nourished.