Text, image and video moderation service Arbitrum picks up $500K from Ask.fm founders

Arbitrum, a text, image and video moderation service founded by German Gedgauds, who previously headed up Ask.fm’s moderation team and product, has raised $500,000 in funding. Backing the Riga, Latvia-based startup is Balaclava Lab, the investment vehicle of Ask.fm founders Ilja Terebin, Mark Terebin and Oskar Liepins.

That Arbitrum has ties to Ask.fm’s chequered history will raise a few eyebrows given the social Q&A site notoriously ran into user-generated content problems, leading to accusations from parents and the media that the service was a haven for bullies. After IAC acquired Ask.fm, Gedgauds says he was tasked with building moderation functionality that could scale.

“Moderation was indeed a disaster after Ask.fm went viral and traffic was growing extremely fast. At that point all the effort was focused on scaling technically to be able to support the growth, and moderation process was somewhat neglected – which lead to issues you are well aware of,” he says.

“In 2014, the Q&A network was acquired by IAC, [who were] determined to solve these problems. As promised, the company put a lot of effort into creating an internal solution, as no satisfactory solution was available on the market. Shortly after the new solution was implemented and proved to be a success – since then no bad cases have been reported. I was a Project Manager of the Ask.fm moderation team at the time and I know the problems and solutions inside-out”.

That, evidently, was the catalyst for Gedgauds and a number of Ask.fm developers to leave the company and start a new venture. He said it took almost a year to develop the software that powers Arbitrum and that the Beta version was launched this February.

The target market is dating apps, marketplaces, and social networks. “All these products have tons of constantly added user generated content, which should be moderated, in order to provide an excellent user experience to its customers,” he says.

To that end, Arbitrum provides text, image and video moderation, and combines human resources, automation and machine learning so that it can scale. In addition, the startup offers an API for easy integration and real-time reporting with key metrics, allowing customers to follow the moderation process day by day.