Mine digs up $30M for its no-code approach to vetting data privacy

Israeli startup Mine made a name for itself a few years ago with a tool designed for consumers to quickly run an audit of their data privacy situation. One scan of your inbox using AI and specifically natural language processing, and Mine can triangulate which companies have access to your personal data, and then let you delete that info in places where you didn't want it to be. GDPR and other data privacy regulations were on people's minds, and the tool -- initially free, more recently paid -- struck a chord: the startup racked up 5 million users in a blink.

For its next turn, the company expanded to business users and enterprise use cases. From a scan of an end user's inbox and signing-on authenticator, Mine determines all of the places where that user is putting and using customer or business data. Again, it struck a chord, this time with privacy officers who are tasked with keeping companies privacy-rule compliant.

Now with enterprise users of its flagship MineOS in the hundreds, including Reddit, HelloFresh SE, FIFA and Data.ai, the company is announcing $30 million in Series B funding to continue its growth.

Battery Ventures and PayPal Ventures are co-leading this round, with participation also from Nationwide Ventures (from the insurance giant) and all its previous backers, including Saban Ventures, Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI fund), MassMutual Ventures and Headline Ventures.

It's not disclosing its valuation but co-founder and CEO Gal Ringel confirmed that it's increased three-fold since its last fundraise. (That was a $9.5 million round in 2020, when it had just 100,000 users.) Mine has raised $42.5 million to date.

The plan is to use the new funding both for sales development around its current offerings, but also to double down on R&D. In line with that, in Q1, Mine plans to launch two new products catering to the explosion in AI interest and usage.

The first of these is a product for data privacy officers designed to respond to regulators' plans to introduce laws around AI.

"Many GCs (general counsel) are very worried about that," Ringel said. The new product will let companies "manage their internal AI algorithms [and] do AI risk assessment thinking," which will include not just what kind of data they are using and training on, but how set up they are to counter bias and all of the other potential harms that have been identified with AI systems.

The second product is more for end users, and Ringel referred to it as Mine AI and described it as a "privacy assistant," which provides more proactive and nuanced insights to end users about how their data is being used elsewhere, and how workers' everyday practices might or might not be slipping into data protection non-compliance.

Unsurprisingly, Mine is not the only player in the space of data protection tools. Because the feature sits so closely to other data protection activities, other places in that wider space -- for example, OneTrust, which provides GDPR and data consent gates for websites; and BigID, which develops a whole set of data usage and compliance tools -- are some of its bigger competitors.

The advantage that Mine has over these, Ringel said, is its focus on being user-friendly and thus easy for non-technical teams to implement and use.

The potential disadvantage, I should add, is that, as a consumer user, you are giving a third party access to your inbox -- ostensibly in aid of ensuring your own privacy and getting a better idea of who has access to your data, but still giving access all the same.

Asked about this, Ringel likened what Mine does to being no different than using any service that helped you triage email; and on the enterprise front, and actually less invasive than the many security tools that might be integrated into your account to protect against malware, phishing and other malicious cyber activity.

Still, not everyone is convinced that this is one of those examples of giving up a little ground in order to make a bigger leap. In years past, users have also complained about the spammy aspects of one of Mine's remediation tools, its third-party requests for data removal.

These, it seems, are outweighed by the ways in which Mine's tech can prove effective, especially in enterprise use cases.

"We have been steadfast supporters of Mine from the very beginning, and we are thrilled to be part of this pivotal moment in the evolution of data privacy solutions for enterprises," said Scott Tobin, a senior partner at Battery Ventures, in a statement. “Our investment with Mine underscores our confidence in the team's innovative approach to empowering B2B enterprises in their privacy endeavors. We look forward to witnessing their continued growth and impact in the market."

“Now is an exciting time to invest in Mine, as the popularity of Generative AI has underscored the critical importance of data privacy,” added Alan Du, a partner at PayPal Ventures. “Organizations must navigate the responsible use of AI by emphasizing privacy, following relevant and emerging laws, and teaching employees to handle personal data safely. With Mine, enterprises of all sizes can harness the power of AI while safeguarding consumers’ privacy and data. We are thrilled to be a part of their journey.”