Detect, Decipher, Defend: The Story of PeakMetrics

Discover our journey to help governments and enterprises
protect their brands, reputation, and people.

"Don't believe everything you see on the internet." 

We've all probably told our parents this a thousand times. But society as a whole seems to forget it.

Misleading or untrue narratives go viral daily. A single post turns into hundreds, and suddenly, it’s everywhere. Once a narrative is out, it takes on its own life, and it’s hard to stop.

This is frustrating and confusing for the individual internet user. It’s dangerous for enterprises and governments who must protect their brands, reputations, and people.

What if that narrative causes customers to threaten a boycott of your products, as it did for Starbucks? What if a fake memo triggered a massive drop in two different companies' stock prices, something the Department of Defense can attest to?

Enterprises, governments, and communities are increasingly challenged by media manipulation and social media attacks. Organizations are generally operating in a crisis-response mode, turning for help to costly crisis management firms, rushing to lock down systems, and hurrying to protect team members. 

This reactive approach is both time-consuming and costly.  Wouldn’t it be better to implement more proactive, data-driven measures to get ahead of emerging issues?

This is why Bobby Lincoln and I created PeakMetrics.

Hi, I’m Nick Loui, co-founder and CEO of PeakMetrics – the narrative intelligence platform that helps governments and enterprises identify and combat emerging online narrative threats.

PeakMetrics uses state-of-the-art machine learning to analyze over 1.5 million media sources and social media platforms to identify media manipulation and adversarial attacks before they cause damage. Our technology helps organizations discern source credibility, understand how audiences spread narratives, and quantify risk and response scenarios – without spending millions on crisis communication and manual sentiment analysis.

We’re excited to unveil our latest accomplishment; we just announced our $3M seed funding round, bringing our total funds raised to $5.7 million. 

Shout out to our amazing investors: York IE, Argon Ventures, CEAS, Parameter Ventures, and many others for participating in the round. This funding will help us meet the increased demand for proactive narrative intelligence tools. It also gives us the resources to continue deepening our product for both the government and commercial markets.

We are coming off our most exciting year yet; in 2023 we quintupled (aka 5x’d) our recurring revenue. The market is telling us that there is a legitimate need for what we do, and we’re excited to keep up the momentum. Let’s dive into the PeakMetrics story:

Finding our “why?”: The need for PeakMetrics

The USC Annenberg School summed up the challenges of reputation management in its 2023 Global Communications Report:

“Reputation has never been more important….At the same time, [it’s] never been more fragile.”

Whether you’re a coffee company or a government organization, building and maintaining a positive reputation is crucial to financial prosperity — and even survival. But the hyper-speed world of internet opinion and public sentiment is often difficult to navigate. 

A survey from top PR consultancy firm Edelman tells us that 46% of CMOs and CCOs say their organization has been affected by online and social media attacks. Misinformation costs organizations an estimated $78 billion per year, per a report from ad cybersecurity firm CHEQ.

This year, the addition of an election will bring a flurry of news articles and social media debates that are likely to be replete with both misleading narratives and outright misinformation.

The need for proactive narrative intelligence has never been greater. PeakMetrics is here to help.

Approaching base camp: How we got here

I’ve always been an engineer/entrepreneur/marketer at heart.

My interest in media and the power of storytelling brought me to Emerson College, where my senior thesis project included building a crisis communication tool on top of Twitter (yes, when it was still called Twitter!).

Right after school, I found myself being part of a digital media hybrid-team created by Ashton Kutcher. Among other things, I helped “@aplusk” become the first person with a million Twitter followers and did some work that would eventually inspire Thorn, Kutcher’s nonprofit that uses Big Data to combat human trafficking.

I’d begun to find my niche at the intersection of social media online influence and understanding how data flows online.

This path eventually led me to Vixlet, an AdTech software company. I became the company’s CMO and reunited with Bobby, who took up the role of COO. It was a surreal part of our journey; two classmates who met on the first day of middle school were suddenly in the C-Suite together. We helped grow the startup to 80 employees and $70M in funds raised.

During our time there, Bobby and I spent a lot of time developing digital, data-driven fan communities for large brands. As part of that, we knew the power of an online audience for a brand, but we were always iterating around the question: How do we actually measure and predict the way these trends spread online?

It’s the essential question that helped us make the leap to founding PeakMetrics.

Beginning our ascent: The early stages of PeakMetrics

Bobby and I have a unique working dynamic, collaborating cross-functionally across product and GTM. 

I have a technical background, while Bobby has scaled engineering teams in the earliest days – from the first engineering hire to teams of 40. Bobby has a business background, but I’ve built and run marketing and partnership teams. 

We have empathy for our customers while still being product-focused at our core. Bobby and I can work cross-functionally, yet we each maintain our own areas of expertise. 

We launched the platform in 2020. Since then, our amazing team has helped brands navigate various viral trends, reputational crises, and world events. This includes everything from the 2020 election, the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, and customer backlash within the banking, ticket sales, and airline industries.

When I say amazing team, I mean it. Together we bring a diverse set of backgrounds and complementary skills. Our engineering and data science team comes from places like Stanford, Azure, Jumpcloud, and Liveramp. This team is led by our VP of Engineering, Joel, who was the founding engineer of SpotX, a $1B AdTech company. On the go-to-market and intelligence side, we bring a diverse set of experiences from companies like Meltwater, Morning Consult, and the Department of Defense. Collectively, we’ve built and scaled go-to-market and customer success teams, developed digitally-native marketing strategies, and personally briefed Commanders on geopolitical risks.

Clients trust us because of our proprietary technology and real-world experience. Here’s what we bring to the table:

  • Comprehensive Data: PeakMetrics offers a robust dataset that tracks about 6x the content of some of the leading media databases. 
  • Narrative ML: Our proprietary methodology helps organizations take a proactive approach to anticipate and mitigate risks, reducing the cost and impact of disinformation attacks. Rather than forcing analysts to manually sift through thousands of individual data points or create complex queries, our AI/ML programmatically summarizes multilingual and cross-channel datasets to surface key themes and trends, or “Narratives.” 
  • A New Approach: We’re bringing a data science and intelligence lens to reputation — an issue that historically was only seen as an issue for Comms teams and crisis PR firms. 
  • Brand and Government Versatility: We’ve worked with large government/DoD agencies and high-profile enterprises. That means we know how to service commercial and government clients in a way that speaks to their specific needs.

These qualities give us a breadth of understanding many other companies can’t offer.

Conquering the next peak: Our vision for the future

The online and social media landscape will only become more complex in the coming years. Agitators, attackers, and their technology will continue to advance. That means our platform must constantly adapt and evolve.

We’re excited to grow our team and continue delivering creative solutions for our customers. Here’s to the next chapter of detecting, deciphering, and defending against emerging online narrative threats!

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