Qloo raises $25M to predict your favorite movies, TV shows and more


Abstract glowing grid and particles
Image Credits: piranka / Getty Images

The buzziest AI today — GenAI — is an undoubted labor saver, generating images, emails, songs and more in record time. But one of AI’s more useful applications in the long run might be identifying the counterintuitive correlations humans miss. Consider, for example, that people who like horror movies might be inclined to try certain exotic cuisines, while people who prefer sitcoms might listen to a lot of true crime podcasts.

Qloo, a New York-based startup, has made it its mission to apply AI to understand these types of nuanced taste and culture patterns. Founded in 2012 by Alex Elias and Jay Alger, Qloo seeks to uncover consumer behaviors and trends across entertainment, fashion, travel, sports, food and other segments.

Elias, an NYU Law School graduate, says that he was inspired to found Qloo after noticing a gap in the market for what he calls “taste knowledge.”

“As a passionate advocate for culture — I play the tenor saxophone and piano, and have a deep appreciation for midcentury cinema — I saw the fragmented world of taste knowledge,” he told TechCrunch in an interview. “I noticed that while companies like Spotify, Expedia and Netflix dominated their respective sectors creating data silos, there was a lack of a unified system capable of understanding and predicting diverse personal tastes across different domains without relying on identity-based data.”

So Elias teamed up with Alger, who previously led the digital marketing agency Deepend, to launch Qloo.

Image Credits: Qloo

Today, Qloo offers companies AI-generated correlation data across many culture and entertainment domains, including film, travel, nightlife, literature and so on. The platform’s knowledge of a user’s taste in one category or genre can be leveraged to deliver suggestions in another category, for example applying TV favorites to game-buying behaviors.

“Qloo operates a sophisticated AI-powered insights engine comprised of … behavioral data from consumers around the globe,” Elias said. “Qloo’s proprietary AI models are capable of identifying trillions of connections between these entities. With a profound understanding of consumer behavior for over 575 million entities worldwide, our technology enables contextualized personalization and deep insights into the intricate connections behind people’s tastes.”

Now, that’s a lot of personal data Qloo’s working with — which certainly gave this writer pause. Where’s it all coming from and where’s it stored? Elias wouldn’t say — but he was quick to assert that Qloo doesn’t rely on personally identifiable information and adheres to the requirements of privacy laws including GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act.

“Qloo maintains a comprehensive Ethics Policy that prioritizes ethical, transparent and responsible AI development and deployment, as well as data privacy and security,” he said. “Specific to data and privacy, Qloo upholds the highest standards of data privacy and security and will not leverage any form of personally identifiable information or copyrighted information in any of the modeling pipelines.”

Whether that’s true, major customers are embracing Qloo to power their product experiences, Elias claims. For instance, Starbucks is using Qloo to create in-store music playlists tailored to specific neighborhoods. Hershey’s is tapping the platform to customize the content of assorted candy bags. Michelin is using Qloo to serve recommendations in its Michelin Guide App. And Netflix is leveraging Qloo’s tech to enhance merchandising by identifying actors who resonate with certain demographics.

Those customers — and Qloo’s ~60 others, which span PepsiCo, Samsung, The New York Mets, BuzzFeed and Ticketmaster — are helping Qloo approach profitability. The company makes money by charging a monthly subscription fee for access to its platform through APIs; Elias says contracts start in the “five figures.”

Image Credits: Qloo

Having today raised $25 million in a Series C round led by AI Ventures with participation from AXA Venture Partners, Eldridge and Moderne Ventures (bringing Qloo’s total raised to $60 million), Qloo is setting its sights on expansion. In addition to building a self-service research tool aimed at marketers and medium- and small-business customers, the startup is introducing what it calls a “multi-person recommendation AI,” which can match the profiles of any two people in Qloo’s database based on their preferences. Elias sees it being used in dating apps.

“The tailwinds from privacy and AI have greatly overpowered the headwinds from any tech slowdown,” Elias said. “Qloo has seen widespread contract expansion from the existing customer roll, looking to consume new data domains and areas of taste knowledge as well as address new use cases like generative itinerary planning and dynamic personalization using Qloo’s AI. Qloo is also seeing demand from new addressable markets, such as real estate, as well as accelerated sales cycles across the board despite increased compliance requirements.”

With the new capital, Qloo plans to expand its 50-person team to over 100 people by the end of the year and “pursue opportunistic M&A.” In 2019, Qloo acquired TasteDive, an entertainment recommendation engine, and Elias implied that future acquisitions would be along similar strategic lines.

More TechCrunch

Another fintech startup, and its customers, has been gravely impacted by the implosion of banking-as-a-service startup Synapse. Copper Banking, a digital banking service aimed at teens, notified its customers on…

Teen fintech Copper had to emergency discontinue its banking, debit products

3D tools behemoth Autodesk has acquired Wonder Dynamics, a startup that let creators quickly and easily make complex characters and visual effects using AI-powered image analysis. The two companies have…

Autodesk acquires AI-powered VFX startup Wonder Dynamics

Farcaster, a blockchain-based social protocol founded by two Coinbase alumni, announced on Tuesday that it closed a $150 million fundraise. Led by Paradigm, the platform also raised money from a16z…

Farcaster, a crypto-based social network, raised $150M with just 80K daily users

Microsoft announced on Tuesday during its annual Build conference that it’s bringing “Windows Volumetric Apps” to Meta Quest headsets. The partnership will allow Microsoft to bring Windows 365 and local…

Microsoft’s new ‘Volumetric Apps’ for Quest headsets extend Windows apps into the 3D space

The spam reached Bluesky by first crossing over two other decentralized networks: Mastodon and Nostr.

The ‘vote Trump’ spam that hit Bluesky in May came from decentralized rival Nostr

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at the continued fallout from Synapse’s bankruptcy, how Layer wants to disrupt SMB accounting, and much more! To get a roundup of…

There’s a real appetite for a fintech alternative to QuickBooks

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its…

As a US ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

7 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion