I’m excited to announce that we are taking a big step in our journey to digitize trust. For the past few years, our team had been working very hard to establish a simple way for individuals to evidence their legal identity so they can more easily access online services. We’ve been focused on emerging markets where this problem is most acute. Earlier this year, we raised an additional $70m to help more customers unlock borderless growth by recognizing more trustworthy users. A BIG thank you to our entire team and early customers!
We’re extremely excited to take our service to the next level. Some of the milestones we are proud to have hit since our Series A:
- +10x in valuation
- +6x in revenue
- +6x our team size
- +200 added customers
I’m even more thrilled to announce we have a new name to better reflect our mission:
Mati is now MetaMap
Since founding the company, we’ve been sensitive about not over-promising our capabilities. The original vision we articulated externally was as ambitious as it was vague:
To give everyone a way to evidence their identity.
In fact, my very first pitch to investors was a commitment to “build a 21st-century version of VISA.” However, ‘identity’ is such a big concept, that at the risk of coming off as naive or arrogant, we made a deliberate decision to unveil our plans gradually.
The name Mati, adopted from a Greek name for a charm that protects people from harm, reflects the conservative way we initially approached our brand. We wanted to help online merchants with something concrete (to fight off fraud) before publicly proclaiming to be the next VISA. Since we built our first products, we’ve eagerly waited to widen our brand’s scope to encapsulate our bigger aspirations. While the initial name served us well for a period of time, we’re now changing our name to better reflect our ultimate vision. That name is MetaMap. Before we dive deeper into the naming, let’s first revisit what we’re endeavoring to do as a company…
The borderless promise
Before Google, most information was catching dust on library shelves and slowly propagating from person to person. Google made that knowledge accessible. They didn’t create any net new knowledge. By connecting information and creating reliable chains to access it, Google showed that the distribution of information is what propagates its value over the long term. The world of open, structured information permits us to learn and discover anything on our own, without the practical constraints of physical location, bureaucratic constraints, or gatekeepers.
Just as Google helped information become more accessible and discoverable, MetaMap helps people — and the true skills, qualities, or merits they possess — be accessible and discoverable to each other. The importance of making people more accessible to each other is self-evident. As people become more accessible and eventually discoverable to each other, their self-worth grows because it means they can be appreciated by more people.
However, the means by which people can become recognized for their merit is not obvious at all. The information related to personal merits is very sensitive and the interactions they power are high-stakes and nuanced. We strongly believe in indexing merits that are only evidence-based and derived from interactions where a user consents to share this information. After all, we’re dealing with people like you and me, not websites.
This is why we have outgrown the phrase *’identity verification’* and choose ‘*recognizing merit*’ as the more relevant way to describe our work. As we continue building our suite of MetaMap tools, we’re helping the world transition from verifying the few to mapping the many. That’s the pain the world faces today, and what we are committed to solving with MetaMap.
We think of merits as fundamental building blocks of identity: dimensions that can be used to describe people uniquely, much like longitude and latitude uniquely describe a single point on a map. Most of our attributes, such as height, gender, high school grades, SAT scores or even credit scores do not define us uniquely on their own.
However, when information is unified and controlled by the end-user, it can become a powerful tool. Individuals can use it to connect with strangers based on their merits alone, instead of superficial attributes like physical proximity. As we rely on more and more stranger-to-stranger interactions in every facet of our lives, we are convinced of this:
Recognizing and validating human merits is as important as mapping the physical terrain once was.
If everyone has merits, then why aren’t they used more to unlock access to services? Most merits have not been recognized yet, or are stuck in inaccessible databases. The human map looks like the physical world map looked a thousand years ago — inaccurate and incomplete. We need tools to navigate in it by collectively mapping the sources of people data — by type of merit, by country, and with appropriate compliance and security protocols to protect this data.
When we map merits, we’re building a new vocabulary around trustworthiness and identity. We’re also building a new world, with no limitations or borders. That means that people who previously did not have access to online services now have a world of possibilities opened up for them. They are be able to interact and transact with people who were previously strangers to them all over the world. As we learn to recognize new forms of merits, we are helping service providers and their customers bridge the trust gap. Finally, all people will be able to participate in a truly borderless digital economy.
The future world of structured identity data is a world we call borderless — a state of the world where physical borders between countries, as well as digital borders between online services, all become seamless portals. MetaMap can help get us there. As “thin file” immigrants ourselves, we want barriers to become portals. We want frustrating and prohibitive checkpoints to become enablers of economic mobility. Service providers have been forced to use simple one-dimensional scores to assess trustworthiness for nearly a hundred years. We want to expand these simple tools into ‘metamaps’, navigation tools that unlock borderless access to billions of people in need of service providers. We want to make the experience of being rejected from an online service a thing of the past.
Currently, physical and digital borders prevent us and our information from freely moving economically, socially, and physically. The only way to bring people to the state of borderless freedom is to index their qualities and attributes, with a privacy-first approach. By indexing an identity we create a portal for the user to share access to their attributes with other people and service providers. In other words, indexing people and those considered thin file ghosts manifest them into a digital existence.
We’ve been thinking about changing the name of the company for months now, and we kept coming back to the idea of a map — a human atlas that lets us discover the world of other people we don’t know, and what we can offer each other based on our merits. While most interactions online are about simple products and appliances today, we believe the future of the internet we will help build will be much. more human.
The key properties we care deeply about in constructing this human atlas are:
- Privacy, so we can control who gets to see our merits, and
- Meritocracy, so only true and relevant attributes are recognized.
MetaMap represents a new type of map we want to live on: one that is private, where we can control who gets to see our merits; and one that is meritocratic, where only true and relevant attributes are recognized. Traditionally, human attributes have taken the shape of simple one-dimensional scores. FICO score, SAT, or IQ are examples of these scores that power important interactions in financial services, education, and even employment. The scores are not wrong; they’re just shallow when used on their own and dates anyone who still uses these simple methods. More importantly, they’re very limited in scope as they only capture the merits of a small minority of people in the world. We think it’s time to go beyond both: one-dimensional scores, and two-dimensional maps if we want to capture more people.
The prefix meta comes from the word ‘beyond’, so MetaMap means a map beyond other maps. It also comes from the popular concept of the metaverse – the next generation of the internet with open data, interoperable pieces, and a virtual presence.
Looking ahead, I have infinite belief in the power of MetaMap and our vision to put users on the digital map, making them visible for perhaps the first time. The opportunity here is endless, and I look forward to iterating on our product, adding many more merits to our platform, and ultimately, helping an increasingly diverse set of people do truly borderless business.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Follow us on Twitter at @viaMetaMap, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s no better way to learn about something than to help us build it. Work with us to help recognize personal merits for the next billion borderless people. We have over 100 open positions, see some of them here.