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Founding Team

CEO, Trisha Kothari Headshot

CEO, Trisha Kothari

Led the Identity and Risk product at Affirm; served as early engineer building core infrastructure systems.

CTO, Clarence Chio Headshot

CTO, Clarence Chio

Author of the O'Reilly book 'Machine Learning and Security' and Professor of Machine Learning at U.C. Berkeley.

Backstory and Timeline

Trisha was one of the early engineers at the online payments company, Affirm. She was involved in many of the original systems, including their general ledger and risk-related systems. 

Clarence brought a deep background in machine learning and security. In fact, he wrote the O’Reilly book on that same topic, and is a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley on machine learning. 

The two met at South Park Commons, a San Francisco-based community of builders, technologists, and domain-experts designed to foster great ideas and entrepreneurs. They bonded over a shared intuition that the fraud and anti-money laundering space was ripe for disruption, and set out to start a company. 

They surveyed hundreds of experts in fraud and AML to validate their hypothesis and vision. Through those interviews, they met the Head of AML at eBay. When he heard what we they building, he invited them to participate in an RFP three weeks later. After Googling, “what is an rfp,” they worked night and day for the next three weeks to build out a fully functional prototype of their product.

Surprisingly, they ended up being one of the front-runners in the deal, largely due to the fact that their solution could involve any data in the detection of suspicious activity – not just transaction data – and the risk & compliance teams didn't need engineering to build or evolve their statistical models.

At that moment, they knew they were on to something, and founded Unit21 in July of 2018.

2017

Trisha Kothari and Clarence Chio meet in San Francisco at South Park Commons

2018

Unit21 is founded

2016

Clarence authors and publishes the O’Reilly book, Machine Learning & Security

2019

Clarence joins the faculty at U.C. Berkeley as lecturer on Applied Machine Learning

2020

Unit21 raises $13 million in Series A funding, led by A. Capital Ventures and Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI venture fund

2021

Unit21 raises an additional $34 million in Series B funding, led by Tiger Global Management

2018

Unit21 breaks $100 billion in activity monitored on the platform

2022

Unit21 hires its 100th employee; closes its second $1 million ARR customer

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