Facial recognition startup Clearview AI drops sales chief, chunk of staff -sources
Clearview AI cut much of its sales staff this week and has parted ways with two of three executives hired about a year ago, according to people familiar with the matter and posts online, as the high-profile facial recognition startup grapples with litigation and difficult economic conditions.
The departures, previously unreported, show instability at the top of the five-year-old company that has taken billions of facial images from the public web and made them searchable by more than 3,000 customers, largely police agencies.
Clearview Chief Executive Hoan Ton-That said in a statement that organizational changes including “the elimination of positions” and reassignment of duties were meant “to better position it for financial security and growth.”
“The strategy is designed to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs,” he said. He declined to comment on the teams or number of people affected.
The cuts included staff who worked with local law enforcement, LinkedIn profiles showed. The company, which had nearly 50 employees as of February, recently has targeted app developers and lucrative opportunities with the U.S. federal government.
Clearview also split with Chief Revenue Officer Chris Metaxas, two sources said. Devesh Ashra, chief strategy officer, took a role last month at Credit Suisse, according to his LinkedIn profile. Clearview had announced their hires https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210518005625/en/Three-New-Faces-Join-Clearview-AI in May 2021, and it recently removed both from the company’s “leadership” webpage.
Reached by phone, Metaxas confirmed his departure but declined further comment. Ashra did not respond to requests for comment.
Ton-That told Reuters in a February interview that he was happy with the leadership team he had assembled last year.
The last time Clearview said it raised venture capital was in July 2021, closing $30 million in Series B funding.
It presented at an investor conference last month. Rising interest rates and global inflation have slowed investment in tech companies and prompted many layoffs.
Clearview in May agreed to settle a privacy lawsuit brought by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, committing to end corporate customers’ access to its database of photos collected from the public web. The company did not admit fault in doing so.
Clearview also has faced fines around the world for alleged privacy violations related to the scraping of online images without consent. (Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, Calif. and Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif; Editing by Kenneth Li and Michael Perry)