Chicago-based serial entrepreneur Dan Pinto has raised new cash and launched a new company looking to commercialize a years-old open source project that purports to solve one of the web’s hardest problems — fraud prevention.
The company he launched in January, FingerprintJS, touts itself as a new kind of toolkit offering browser fingerprinting as a service for any application.
The company, based on an open source project that already has 5 million downloads and 8,000 websites using the service (and hundreds of paying customers, according to the company), is a variation on the browser fingerprinting technology that companies have been using for years.
FingerprintJS uses the same canvas fingerprinting, audio sampling, WebGL fingerprinting, font detection and browser plugin probing tech that’s available on the market, but de-identifies the fingerprint from a specific device by generating a unique identifier of a browser without using cookies. Companies can store the identifier in their database and then track its behavior, the company said on its website.
The open source project was actually started five years ago by Valentin Vasilyev, according to the project’s Github page. Vasilyev and Pinto worked together at Pinto’s last startup, Machinio, which was sold back in 2018. The two men launched a business around Vailyev’s project in January and have raised $4 million in financing to support the commercialization of the project.
“The open source community was pivotal to our success thus far,” said Vasilyev, in a statement. “We will continue to build upon that base and focus on selling to developers first. Software engineers understand technology and are starting to recognize how effective our product is to help stop fraud.”
Funding came from Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Hack VC, the Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator’s Remarkable Ventures fund and angel investors like Rony Kahan, the chair and co-founder of Indeed, according to a statement from FingerprintJS.
“FingerprintJS APIs make it possible for developers to quickly embed fraud detection and prevention capabilities into their code,” said Abhishek Sharma, principal at Nexus Venture Partners, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the FingerprintJS team because of their product-led bottom-up technology development and distribution in a category that has historically been reliant on top-down enterprise sales.”
One potential roadblock to FingerprintJS’ growth comes from recent the General Data Protection Regulations enacted by the European Union and better known by their acronym, GDPR. Those regulations restrict the use of several browser fingerprinting and tracking technologies. Some browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, have even set up their own controls to limit the amount of data a website can use to track visitors online.
Pinto is undeterred.
“We have a unique opportunity to disrupt the fraud technology market by enabling our customers to build fraud prevention in their applications rather than it being an afterthought just as Stripe has done with payment processing,” he said in a statement provided by the company. “Think of online fraud as a shell game where malicious users are constantly trying to hide themselves in order to commit fraud. Existing solutions try to generate a fraud score for each visitor without trying to understand who they are. We focus on uniquely identifying malicious users which directly solves the underlying fraud problem.”