Australia’s Redactive AI bags $11.5 million to grow ‘virtual AI engineer’


Blackbird and Atlassian Ventures led the $11.5 million funding round for Redactive AI – a Melbourne-based developer platform co-founded by former Atlassian product managers. US firms Felicis and Zapier also see great promise in the responsible AI platform.
Redactive AI co-founders Lucas Sargent, Andrew Pankevicius and Alexander Valente. Image: Redactive AI

Homegrown technology company Redactive AI – founded by former AI engineer Lucas Sargent, and Atlassian alumni Andrew Pankevicius and Alexander Valente – has security and responsible AI at the forefront of its mission, and its ‘virtual AI engineer.’

“We are really proud as a team to focus on huge, global challenges that are facing purposeful AI adoption and make a mark on it from our corner in the world,” says Pankevicius.

The Redactive AI developer platform is focused on helping enterprises manage new data threats and empower their security teams, Pankevicius says. The product is used by an Australian superannuation fund and a financial exchange as their ‘Responsible AI platform of choice,’ according to the company.

“We don’t replace your existing software engineers or automate their job. Instead, we solve for the emerging & lucrative ‘data engineering’ skillset that is table-stakes for an AI application to function.”

GenAI applications are only as useful as the data that they have access to, and for most enterprises, the most valuable data is sensitive and permissioned.

Michael Tolo, Blackbird Ventures

Pankevicius and Valente teamed up with Lucas Sargent, an AI engineer with 5-years experience working on heavily regulated, public companies.

The strong founder team and early traction have impressed investors in Silicon Valley.

“We loved the Atlassian DNA of the team, commercial instincts, and distribution relationships with Zapier and other partners so early in Redactive’s life stage,” says Victoria Treyger, a general partner at Felicis – early investors in Australian unicorns Canva and Culture Amp.

Treyger sees great opportunity in the value proposition Redactive AI brings to organisations. “We see significant market pull from large enterprise customers, especially banks, insurance companies, and other companies in regulated industries, to build their AI strategy in a secure way,” says Treyger.

Partnering with Zapier

San Francisco-headquartered workflow automation software company Zapier also sees great value in the Redactive AI approach. Zapier was valued at USD$5 billion in 2021, and needs to ensure users have control over real-time access to data.

“Redactive has a super unique approach that avoids having to build expensive and slow permission syncs’,” says Mike Knoop, a co-founder of Zapier. “This is hard at scale, as third-party data sources all do permissions differently.”

Zapier not only works with Redactive it has also invested in it. As has Blackbird Ventures, the preeminent Australian VC committed to investing in early-stage founders with ‘wild hearts’ and ‘the wildest ideas.’

Redactive started with a question. What if we considered the information security, privacy and permissioned access control needs of an enterprise first?

Andrew Pankevicius, Redactive AI

Michael Tolo is a general partner at Blackbird and says he is impressed with how quickly Redactive – founded just 10 months ago – has accelerated.

“GenAI applications are only as useful as the data that they have access to, and for most enterprises, the most valuable data is sensitive and permissioned,” says Tolo.

“It’s a testament to the deep expertise and thoughtfulness the founding team has to tackle the hidden security and governance challenges [that] software teams get stuck on.”

The solution that Redactive AI provides ‘truly delivers a production-grade, secure Gen AI application’ Tolo says.

Atlassian Ventures is co-leading the $11.5 million seed raise with Blackbird. The funds will be used to hire engineers, marketers, and customer-oriented employees in Melbourne and San Francisco, according to the company.

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here or become a member here.

Are you – or is someone you know -creating the next Afterpay or Canva? Nominations are open for Forbes Australia’s first 30 under 30 list. Entries close midnight, July 15, 2024.

More from Forbes Australia