Would you sell your data for passive income? Caden raises $15M to give users the option
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New York-based Caden, a data intelligence startup working to change how enterprises access and use consumer data, today announced $15 million in a series A round of funding. The company said it will use the capital to accelerate product development, hiring and go-to-market efforts.
The investment has been led by Nava Ventures with participation from Jerry Yang’s AME Ventures, Streamlined Ventures, Montage Ventures, Industry Ventures, 1707 Capital and AAF Management, taking the total capital raised by Caden to nearly $25 million.
“With the support of our new and existing investors, we intend to transform the consumer data market by creating the most ethical, actionable and valuable data intelligence company in the world,” John Roa, the CEO and founder of the company, said in a press statement. Roa launched Caden almost five years after selling digital experience and engagement consultancy AKTA to Salesforce.
How does Caden streamline personal data use?
Over the years, companies across sectors — from small startups to major conglomerates — have gathered consumer data for advertising, free personalized experiences and a lot more. The approaches have been different, but the focus has largely remained on collecting information directly based on consumers’ interaction with the brand’s product — getting it from a contractual partner or aggregating it from multiple public or non-public sources (imagine marketing platforms).
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The issue with this ecosystem is that end-users have no direct control over where their personal data is going or how it is being used. The only way to gain some measure of control is by reading the fine print before agreeing to the terms of service or asking the company in question to delete their data (often cumbersome and a pain point in the modern world driven by digital services).
How Caden gives users control over their data
Founded in 2021, Caden addresses the challenge of user control by placing end users at the center of a data exchange with a two-sided platform. At one side sits an app that allows consumers to automatically pull in personal activity data, such as the movies they watch, where they travel and what they buy from different businesses, and then opt in to monetize some or all of that information in various privacy-centered ways, creating a safe passive income stream.
The other side is an enterprise-facing intelligence suite called CadenOS. It gives businesses access to the data directly consented to and monetized by consumers through a “hyper panel.” Teams can tap it for a variety of use cases, starting from aggregated analytics and advertising to robust training of foundational models. Most importantly, all the information that CadenOS provides is automatically adjusted for privacy compliance and provenance, allowing teams to comply with regulations as they build out their offerings.
“For 25 years, users have exchanged their personal data for ‘free access’ to services, apps and websites, resulting in companies accumulating vast amounts of data without prioritizing user privacy. We envisioned a paradigm shift where users would be empowered and placed at the center of this data exchange, rather than having it siphoned from them. Caden’s founding principle emphasized individuals’ ability to choose whether to share their data, with whom, and for what purpose,” Roa told VentureBeat.
‘Hundreds of thousands’ in compensation distributed already
The company launched its mobile app earlier this summer and has seen rapid adoption from end consumers. It claims to have recorded nearly a billion data points – with over 100 million adding up every week – and disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. However, Roa refused to share enterprise customers’ details as the business platform has just formally debuted.
“Caden is the only app of its kind that doesn’t require laborious work from the user. No receipts to photograph. No surveys. Just a few minutes of work and you start securely earning, automatically,” the CEO noted. Throughout the process, the consented data is encrypted and anonymized with users keeping the option to stop/limit sharing or delete the synced information altogether.
The company has also launched “Caden AI,” the first version of its personal assistant that automatically trains on a user’s media consumption, purchases, travel, exercise and more to give them personalized products, retailers and experiences. Imagine asking for a movie recommendation and getting a response along the lines of: “Since you’re traveling to Morocco in a couple of weeks, here’s a great documentary you should watch on Netflix.”
With this round of funding, Caden plans to double down on its work by accelerating product development and go-to-market efforts. The company also plans to double the size of its 25-strong team in New York City.
The work on the product side will focus on improving CadenOS and the AI assistant as well as giving users more opportunities to earn money by building additional connections across various retailers, loyalty programs, fitness platforms and streaming services.
“In Q4, we are debuting ‘Context AI’ inside of CadenOS which will allow anyone, from journalists to researchers to analysts, the ability to ask natural language questions about any aspect of consumer behavior and get a detailed visualized qualitative and quantitative answer,” Roa said.
Caden currently competes in the $200 billion-worth personal data market with young startups such as Pogo and Tapestri as well as known players such as Rakuten and Fetch Rewards.
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