Ravin.ai raises $4M to use computer vision for vehicle damage inspections

Ravin.ai, an Israel and U.K.-based startup developing AI to autonomously inspect vehicles for damage, has closed a $4 million seed round. The investment is led by Pico Venture Partners, with participation from Shell Ventures and “automotive entrepreneur” Adam Draizin. It marks Shell Ventures’ first Israel investment.

Founded in 2018 and based in Haifa and London, Ravin combines computer vision and deep learning to detect and analyse damage in vehicles via standard cameras, such as a smartphone or CCTV cameras. The startup is initially targeting car rental companies but also eyeing up other markets for its tech, including fleet companies within the shared mobility space, and used car marketplaces.

“We have all rented and bought used cars in our lives and there is always some discomfort associated with true car condition: Ravin’s mission is to create transparency around damage wherever vehicles operate or change hands,” Ravin co-founder and CEO Eliron Ekstein, who previously helped launch Shell’s digital business arm, tells me.

“Damage in vehicles is a massive problem, if you consider that vehicles get damaged almost every fice seconds. For the consumer it’s a big headache because you’re never really sure if the car you’re picking up for rental, or the one you just bought, has some kind of hidden damage. For car rental, dealers and insurance companies, this translates to losses of over $100 billion due to damage undetected in time, overestimated repairs and the overhead of dealing with claims. This problem will only get worse as more vehicles are shared and people buy their cars online”.

In contrast, Ekstein says Ravin provides the needed transparency to facilitate easier transactions. This is delivered via what he claims is an “objective” vehicle condition report generated via the startup’s AI using off-the-shelf cameras. Vehicles can be scanned via a mobile phone walk-around (similar to a panoramic view experience) or by driving through a set of CCTV cameras.

“From there we create a 360-degree view of the vehicle and expose any damages, and in many cases some underlying problems, reasons and repair action,” says Ekstein. “This leads to frictionless rental and sharing of vehicles and minimises unnecessary arguments as both sides know about the vehicle condition. It also helps car buyers verify a vehicle condition, and finally helps insurance companies validate claims quickly”.

More broadly, Ravin wants to provide an almost “Docusign-like” experience where people can hand cars over in confidence, which Ekstein says is really what the sharing economy is all about.

To that end, Ravin says it has commercial partners across the U.S. and Europe, including Avis’ Heathrow Airport location. It plans to use the new funding to further develop its technology products and to expand commercial reach across North America, Europe and Asia.

Talk key takeaways from KubeCon 2019 with TechCrunch writers

The Linux Foundation’s annual KubeCon conference is going down at the Fira Gran Via exhibition center in Barcelona, Spain this week and TechCrunch is on the scene covering all the latest announcements.

The KubeCon/CloudNativeCon conference is the world’s largest gathering for the topics of Kubernetes, DevOps and cloud-native applications. TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois and Ron Miller will be on the ground at the event. Wednesday at 9:00 am PT, Frederic and Ron will be sharing with Extra Crunch members via a conference call what they saw and what it all means.

Tune in to dig into what happened onstage and off and ask Frederic and Ron any and all things Kubernetes, open-source development or dev tools.

To listen to this and all future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.

Instagram’s IGTV copies TikTok’s AI, Snapchat’s design

Instagram conquered Stories, but it’s losing the battle for the next video formats. TikTok is blowing up with an algorithmically suggested vertical one-at-a-time feed featuring videos of users remixing each other’s clips. Snapchat Discover’s 2 x infinity grid has grown into a canvas for multi-media magazines, themed video collections, and premium mobile TV shows.

Instagram’s IGTV…feels like a flop in comparison. Launched a year ago, it’s full of crudely cropped & imported viral trash from around the web. The long-form video hub that lives inside both a homescreen button in Instagram as well as a standalone app has failed to host lengthier must-see original vertical content. Sensor Tower estimates that the IGTV app has just 4.2 million installs worldwide with just 7,700 new ones per day — implying less than half a percent of Instagram’s billion-plus users have downloaded it. IGTV doesn’t rank on the overall charts and hangs low at #191 on the US – Photo & Video app charts according to App Annie.

Now Instagram has quietly overhauled the design of IGTV’s space inside its main app to crib what’s working from its two top competitors. The new design showed up in last week’s announcements for Instagram Explore’s new Shopping and IGTV discovery experiences. At the time, Instagram’s product lead on Explore Will Ruben told us that with the redesign, “the idea is this is more immersive and helps you to see the breadth of videos in IGTV rather than the horizontal scrolling interface that used to exist” but the company declined to answer follow-up questions about it.

IGTV has ditched its category-based navigation system’s tabs like “For You”, “Following”, “Popular”, and “Continue Watching” for just one central feed of algorithmically suggested videos — much like TikTok. This affords a more lean-back, ‘just show me something fun’ experience that relies on Instagram’s AI to analyze your behavior and recommend content instead of putting the burden of choice on the viewer.

IGTV has also ditched its awkward horizontal scrolling design that always kept a clip playing in the top half of the screen. Now you’ll scroll vertically through a 2 x infinity grid of recommended clips in a what looks just like Snapchat Discover feed. Once you get past a first video that auto-plays up top, you’ll find a full-screen grid of things to watch. You’ll only see the horizontal scroller in the standalone IGTV app, or if you tap into an IGTV video, and then tap the Browse button for finding a next clip while the last one plays up top.

Instagram seems to be trying to straddle the designs of its two competitors. The problem is that TikTok’s one-at-a-time feed works great for punchy, short videos that get right to the point. If you’re bored after 5 second you swipe to the next. IGTV’s focus on long-form means its videos might start too slowly to grab your attention if they were auto-played full-screen in the feed rather than being chosen by a viewer. But Snapchat makes the most of the two previews per row design IGTV has adopted because professional publishers take the time to make compelling cover thumbnail images promoting their content. IGTV’s focus on independent creators means fewer have labored to make great cover images, so viewers have to rely on a screenshot and caption.

Instagram is prototyping a number of other features to boost engagement across its app, as discovered by reverse engineering specialist and frequent TechCrunch tipster Jane Manchun Wong. Those include options to blast a direct message to all your Close Friends at once but in individual message threads, see a divider between notifications and likes you have or haven’t seen, or post a Chat sticker to Stories that lets friends join a group message thread about that content. And to better compete with TikTok, it may let you add lyrics stickers to Stories that appear word-by-word in sync with Instagram’s licensed music soundtrack feature, and share Music Stories to Facebook. What we haven’t seen is any cropping tool for IGTV that would help users reformat landscape videos. The vertical-only restriction keeps lots of great content stuck outside IGTV, or letterboxed with black, color-matched backgrounds, or meme-style captions with the video as just a tiny slice in the middle.

When I spoke with Instagram co-founder and ex-CEO Kevin Systrom last year a few months after IGTV’s launch, he told me “It’s a new format. It’s different. We have to wait for people to adopt it and that takes time . . . Everything that is great starts small.”

But to grow large, IGTV needs to demonstrate how long-form portrait mode video can give us a deeper look at the nuances of the influencers and topics we care about. The company has rightfully prioritized other drives like safety and well-being with features that hide bullies and deter overuse. But my advice from August still stands despite all the ground Instagram has lost in the meantime. “Concentrate on teaching creators how to find what works on the format and incentivizing them with cash and traffic. Develop some must-see IGTV and stoke a viral blockbuster. Prove the gravity of extended, personality-driven vertical video.” Until the content is right, it won’t matter how IGTV surfaces it.

In-car commerce startup Cargo extends Uber partnership to Brazil

Cargo, the startup that brings the convenience store into ride-hailing vehicles, is making its first international expansion through an exclusive partnership with Uber in Brazil.

Uber drivers in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will now be able to sign up for Cargo and potentially earn additional income by selling products to passengers during their ride.

Cargo, which launched in 2017, provides qualified ridesharing drivers with free boxes filled with the kinds of goods you might find in a convenience store, including snacks and phone chargers. Riders can use Cargo’s mobile web menu on their smartphones (without downloading an app) to buy what they need.

The expansion into Brazil includes a relationship with am/pm convenience stores. In Brazil, about 2,500 am/pm stores are operated and located in Ipiranga gas stations. Uber drivers that sign up with Cargo will collect their boxes of products at these stores.

The announcement is an extension of a partnership with Uber that began last July in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Cargo and Uber have added more U.S. cities to the partnership, including Boston, Miami, New York and Washington, D.C.

The move will give Cargo access to the more than 600,000 Uber drivers in Brazil. It also signals the beginning of what will be a broader global expansion for the company. Some 20,000 U.S. drivers have used the Cargo service. 

In October, Cargo announced it had raised $22 million in a Series A round led by Founders Fund. The Series A round included additional investment from Aquiline Technology Growth, Coatue Management and a number of high-profile entertainment, gaming and technology executives such as Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Twitch’s former CSO Colin Carrier, media investor Vivi Nevo, former NBA commissioner David Stern, Def Jam Records CEO Paul Rosenberg, Steve Aoki, Maria Shriver and Patrick and Christina Schwarzenegger.

To date, Cargo has raised $30 million in venture funding.

MIT and U.S. Air Force team up to launch AI accelerator

The Pentagon is one of the largest technology customers in the world, purchasing everything from F-35 planes (roughly $90 million each) to cloud services (the JEDI contract was $10 billion). Despite outlaying hundreds of billions of dollars for acquisitions though, the Defense Department has struggled to push nascent technologies from startups through its punishing procurement process.

The department launched the Defense Innovation Unit a few years back as a way to connect startups into the defense world. Now, the military has decided to work even earlier to ensure that the next generation of startups can equip the military with the latest technology.

Cambridge, MA-based MIT and the U.S. Air Force announced today that they are teaming up to launch a new accelerator focused on artificial intelligence applications, with the Air Force committed to investing $15 million into roughly ten MIT research projects per year. The accelerator will be called the MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator (clearly, the Pentagon hasn’t gotten better at naming things).

The accelerator will be housed on campus at MIT’s new computing college, which received a $1 billion commitment last year, including $350 million from Stephen A. Schwarzman. The college is expected to officially launch later this fall.

This will not be the Air Force’s first foray into accelerators. The service also built out an accelerator with TechStars that is directly targeted at solving the Air Force’s problems. It’s not yet clear whether the TechStars accelerator, which is also based in Boston, is being merged into the MIT accelerator or will remain a separate entity.

While MIT has had close relationships with the military going back decades, concerns have increased among some technologists about working on frontier tech like artificial intelligence and drones within a military context, especially an offensive military context. Last year, employees at Google blocked the tech giant from signing a cloud agreement with the Pentagon related to Project Maven, which would have applied AI and “algorithms” to battlefield applications.

In the announcement for this accelerator, MIT said that, “In addition to disaster relief and medical readiness, other possible research areas may include data management, maintenance and logistics, vehicle safety, and cyber resiliency.” It also highlighted that it hoped the projects entering the accelerator would be “addressing challenges that are important to both the Air Force and society more broadly.” Whether there are any limits on the types of projects that will be allowed on campus is not clear.

Robin picks up $20 million Series B to optimize the office

Robin Powered, a startup looking to help offices run better, has today announced the close of a $20 million Series B funding. The round was led by Tola Capital, with existing investors Accomplice and FirstMark participating in the round, along with a new strategic Allegion Ventures.

Robin started as part of an agency called One Mighty Roar, where Robin Powered cofounder Sam Dunn and his two cofounders built out RFID and beacon tech for clients’ live events. In 2014, they spun out the tech as Robin and tweaked the focus on the modern office.

The office stands to be one of the least efficient pieces of any business. As a company grows, or even if it doesn’t, it’s particularly difficult to understand the ‘inventory’ of the office and how it is used by workers throughout the day.

“Before, if I asked you what you needed out of your next office, you might go around and survey employees or hire an architecture firm,” said Dunn. “I heard a story where a manager sent around an intern every Thursday at 3pm to talk to employees about the office, and that was one of two pieces of information handed over to the architecture firm. At the end of the day, it’s hard to know if there’s a shortage of meeting rooms, or teleconference-enabled rooms, or collaborative workspaces.”

That’s where Robin comes in. Robin hooks into Google Calendar and Outlook to help employees get a sense of what meeting rooms and activity spaces are available in the office, complete with tablet signage out front. Meetings are the starting point for Robin, but the company can also offer tools for seating charts and office maps, as well as insights. The company wants to offer insights about how the space in this or that office is being used — what they lack and what they have too much of.

Robin charges its clients per room ($300) and per desk ($24 – $60). The hope is to build out the same technological backbone for clients’ offices as WeWork provides alongside its physical space, giving every business the opportunity to optimize one of their biggest investments: the office itself.

Robin has raised a total of $30 million.

Clinc raises $52m Series B as it marches towards IPO

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Clinc is today announcing a $52 million Series B. The company behind the conversational AI platform netted cash from Insight Partners, DFJ Growth, Drive Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and others.

This round of financing brings Clinc’s total amount of funding to $60 million and will help Clinc scale its conversational AI to new markets. Clinc plans to reach 140 employees by the end of 2019 and intends to move into a new 26,000 square foot office in Ann Arbor, MI. According to Clinc, the company achieved a 300% year-over-year revenue growth and expects to more than triple the business again this year.

“We’ve had phenomenal growth and built unbelievable momentum in a very short period of time,” said Jason Mars, Clinc CEO. “Now we’re adding more world class investors to support our growing team as we work to accelerate the pace of innovation and to reshape the conversational AI landscape, one industry at a time.”

Mars explained to TechCrunch that it sought specific investors for this round that could help take the company to its initial public offering. Jeff Lieberman, Insight Partners’ Managing Director, is joining Clinc’s board of directors and brings significant IPO experience to the boardroom as he previously helped several companies go public including Event, Shutterstock, and Website Pros. With this round, Clinc also adds DFJ’s Randy Glein to its board of advisors.

Mars said this round of financing could be its last before going public. He hopes to take the company straight to an IPO from here and noted that the capital gives the company several years of runway.

With this round, Clinc now has investors on both coasts along within the middle of the country where it’s based.

Clinc was founded in Ann Arbor, MI in 2015 and has remained committed to the Midwest city since its launch in 2016. The company currently has offices elsewhere including Europe, Asia, and throughout the States. CEO Mars tells TechCrunch that the short term plan is to keep key management in Ann Arbor, but it’s plausible that other offices will eventually have more staff.

The company’s conversational AI platform is unique in the industry and has allowed the company to make inroads in different markets. Its deep neural network product can be trained to work in a variety of industries, and Clinc currently works with major banks, automakers, quick-service restaurants, and healthcare companies. The company recently showed off how it could work in video games, too.

Clinc showed off its system at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018. Watch his demo here.

Myneral.me wins the TechCrunch Hackathon at VivaTech

It’s been a long night at VivaTech. The building hosted a very special competition — the TechCrunch Hackathon in Paris.

Hundreds of engineers and designers got together to come up with something cool, something neat, something awesome. The only condition was that they only had 36 hours to work on their projects. Some of them were participating in our event for the first time, while others were regulars. Some of them slept on the floor in a corner, while others drank too much Red Bull.

We could all feel the excitement in the air when the 64 teams took the stage to present a one-minute demo to impress fellow coders and our judges. But only one team could take home the grand prize and €5,000. So, without further ado, meet the TechCrunch Hackathon winner.

Winner: Myneral.me

Current mining operations lack transparency and clarity in the way they are monitored. In order to understand how a material went from initial discovery in the mine to end product, a new tool is necessary to monitor operations. Myneral.me offers an all-encompassing platform for the metal and mining sector that showcases CSR to both industry partners and end users. Find out more on Myneral.me.

Runner-Up #1: Vyta

Vyta takes patient information and helps doctors understand which patient needs to be treated first. A simple tool like this could make things smoother for everyone at the emergency room and improve treatments.

Runner-Up #2: Scrub

SCRUB = SCRUM + BUGS. Easily track your errors across applications and fix them using our algorithmic suggestions and code samples. Our open-source bug tracker automagically collects all errors for you. Find out more on GitHub.

Runner-Up #3: Chiche

Finding the future upcoming brand depends on the set of data you are using to detect it. First, they do a simple quantification of the most famous brands on social medias to identify three newcomers. Second, they use Galerie Lafayette’s website as a personal shopping tool to propose customers the most adequate product within the three newcomers.


Judges

Dr. Aurélie Jean has been working for more than 10 years as a research scientist and an entrepreneur in computational sciences, applied to engineering, medicine, education, economy, finance and journalism. In the past, Aurélie worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Bloomberg. Today, Aurélie works and lives between USA and France to run In Silico Veritas, a consulting agency in analytics and computer simulations. Aurélie is an advisor at the Boston Consulting Group and an external collaborator for The Ministry of Education of France. Aurélie is also a science editorial contributor for Le Point, teaches algorithms in universities and conducts research.

Julien Meraud has a solid track record in e-commerce after serving international companies for several years, including eBay, PriceMinister and Rakuten. Before joining Doctolib, Julien was CMO of Rakuten Spain, where he improved brand online acquisition, retention, promotions and campaigns. Julien joined Doctolib at the very beginning (2014), becoming the company’s first CMO and quickly holding CPO functions additionally. At Doctolib, Julien also leads Strategy teams that are responsible for identifying and sizing Doctolib’s potential new markets. Julien has a Master’s degree in Marketing, Statistics and Economics from ENSAI and a specialized Master in Marketing Management from ESSEC Business School.

Laurent Perrin is the co-founder and CTO of Front, which is reinventing email for teams. Front serves more than 5,000 companies and has raised $79 million in venture funding from investors such as Sequoia Capital, DFJ and Uncork Capital. Prior to Front, Laurent was a senior engineer at various startups and helped design scalable real-time systems. He holds a Master’s in Computer Science from École Polytechnique and Télécom ParisTech.

Neesha Tambe is the head of Startup Battlefield, TechCrunch’s global startup launch competition. In this role she sources, recruits and vets thousands of early-stage startups per year while training and coaching top-tier startups to launch in the infamous Startup Battlefield competition. Additionally, she pioneered the concept and launched CrunchMatch, the networking program at TechCrunch events that has facilitated thousands of connections between founders, investors and the startup community at-large. Prior to her work with TechCrunch, Neesha ran the Sustainable Brands’ Innovation Open — a startup competition for shared value and sustainability-focused startups with judges from Fortune 50 companies.

Renaud Visage is the technical co-founder of San Francisco-based Eventbrite (NYSE: EB), the globally leading event technology platform that went public in September 2018. Renaud is also an angel investor, guiding founders that are solving challenging technical problems in realizing their global ambitions, and he works closely with seed VC firm Point Nine Capital as a board partner, representing the fund on the board of several of their portfolio companies. Renaud also serves on the board of ShareIT, the Paris-based tech for good acceleration program launched in collaboration with Ashoka, and is an advisor to the French impact investing fund, Ring for Good. In 2014, Renaud was included in Wired UK’s Top 100 digital influencers in Europe.

In addition to our judges, here’s the hackmaster who was the MC for the event:

Romain Dillet is a senior writer at TechCrunch. Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things, from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world. He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

Startups Weekly: There’s an alternative to raising VC and it’s called revenue-based financing

Revenue-based financing is on the rise, at least according to Lighter Capital, a firm that doles out entrepreneur-friendly debt capital.

What exactly is RBF you ask? It’s a relatively new form of funding for tech companies that are posting monthly recurring revenue. Here’s how Lighter Capital, which completed 500 RBF deals in 2018, explains it: “It’s an alternative funding model that mixes some aspects of debt and equity. Most RBF is technically structured as a loan. However, RBF investors’ returns are tied directly to the startup’s performance, which is more like equity.”

Source: Lighter Capital

What’s the appeal? As I said, RBFs are essentially dressed up debt rounds. Founders who opt for RBFs as opposed to venture capital deals hold on to all their equity and they don’t get stuck on the VC hamster wheel, the process in which you are forced to continually accept VC while losing more and more equity as a means of pleasing your investors.

RBFs, however, are better than traditional debt rounds because the investors are more incentivized to help the companies they invest in because they are receiving a certain portion of that business’s monthly revenues, typically 1% to 9%. Eventually, as is explained thoroughly in Lighter Capital’s newest RBF report, monthly payments come to an end, usually 1.3 to 2.5X the amount of the original financing, a multiple referred to as the “cap.” Three to five years down the line, any unpaid amount of said cap is due back to the investor. When all is said in done, ideally, the startup has grown with the support of the capital and hasn’t lost any equity.

At this point, they could opt to raise additional revenue-based capital, they could turn to venture capital or they could tap a tech bank to help them get to the next step. The idea is RBF is easier on the founder and it allows them optionality, something that is often lost when companies turn to VCs.

IPO corner, rapid-fire edition

Slack’s direct listing will be on June 20th. Get excited.

China’s Luckin Coffee raised $650 million in upsized U.S. IPO

Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity unicorn, dropped its S-1.

Freelance marketplace Fiverr has filed to go public on the NYSE.

Plus, I had a long and comprehensive conversation with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan this week about the company’s closely watched IPO. You can read the full transcript here.

Second Chances

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Hosain Rahman, the man behind Jawbone, has managed to raise $65.4 million for his new company, according to an SEC filing. The paperwork, coincidentally or otherwise, was processed while most of the world’s attention was focused on Uber’s IPO. Jawbone, if you remember, produced wireless speakers and Bluetooth earpieces, and went kaput in 2017 after burning up $1 billion in venture funding over the course of 10 years. Ouch.

More startup capital

Funds!

On the heels of enterprise startup UiPath raising at a $7 billion valuation, the startup’s biggest investor is announcing a new fund to double down on making more investments in Europe. VC firm Accel has closed a $575 million fund — money that it plans to use to back startups in Europe and Israel, investing primarily at the Series A stage in a range of between $5 million and $15 million, reports TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden. Plus, take a closer look at Contrary Capital. Part accelerator, part VC fund, Contrary writes small checks to student entrepreneurs and recent college dropouts.

Extra Crunch

Our paying subscribers are in for a treat this week. Our in-house venture capital expert Danny Crichton wrote down some thoughts on Uber and Lyft’s investment bankers. Here’s a snippet: “Startup CEOs heading to the public markets have a love/hate relationship with their investment bankers. On one hand, they are helpful in introducing a company to a wide range of asset managers who will hopefully hold their company’s stock for the long term, reducing price volatility and by extension, employee churn. On the other hand, they are flagrantly expensive, costing millions of dollars in underwriting fees and related expenses…”

Read the full story here and sign up for Extra Crunch here.

#Equitypod

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and I chat about the notable venture rounds of the week, CrowdStrike’s IPO and more of this week’s headlines.

Want more TechCrunch newsletters? Sign up here.

Credder offers Rotten Tomatoes-style ratings for the news

In an age of online misinformation and clickbait, how do you know whether a publication is trustworthy?

Startup Credder is trying to solve this problem with reviews from both journalists and regular readers. These reviews are then aggregated into an overall credibility score (or rather, scores, since the journalist and reader ratings are calculated separately). So when you encounter an article from a new publication, you can check their scores on Credder to get a sense of how credible they are.

Co-founder and CEO Chase Palmieri compared the site to movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It makes sense, then, that he’s enlisted former Rotten Tomatoes CEO Patrick Lee to his advisory board, along with journalist Gabriel Snyder and former Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte.

Palmieri plans to open Credder to the general public later this month, and he’s already raised $750,000 in funding from Founder Institute CEO Adeo Ressi, Ira Ehrenpreis, the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Steve Bennet and others.

Palmieri told me he started working full-time on the project back in 2016, with the goal of “giving news consumers a way to productively hold the news producers accountable,” and to “realign the financial incentives of online media, so it’s not just rewarding clicks and traffic metrics.” In other words, he wanted to create a landscape where publishing empty clickbait or heavily slanted propaganda might have actual consequences.

If Credder gets much traction, it will likely attract its share of trolls — it’s easy to imagine that the same kind of person who leaves a negative review of “Captain Marvel” without seeing the movie (this is a real issue that Rotten Tomatoes has had to face), would be just as happy to smear The New York Times or CNN as “fake news.” And even if a reviewer is offering honest, good-faith feedback, the review might be less influenced by the quality of a publication’s journalism and more by their personal baggage or political leanings.

Palmieri acknowledged the risk and pointed to several ways Credder is trying to mitigate it. For one thing, users can’t just write an overall review of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or TechCrunch. Instead, they’re reviewing specific articles, so hopefully they’re engaging with the substance and specifics of the story, rather than just venting their preexisting feelings. The scores assigned to publications and to journalists are only generated when there are enough article ratings to create an aggregated score.

In addition, Palmieri said the reviewers “are also being held accountable,” because users can upvote or downvote their comments. That affects how the reviews get weighted in the overall score, and in turn generates a rating for the reviewers.

“It will take time for the weight of your reviews to be meaningful, and there will be a visible track record,” he said.

While I appreciated Palmieri’s vision, I was also skeptical that a credibility score can actually influence readers’ opinions — maybe it will matter when you encounter a new publication, but everyone already has set ideas about who they trust and don’t trust.

When I brought this up, Palmieri replied, “What we see in today’s media landscape is the left-wing media attacks the right-wing media, and vice versa. We never get a sense of what our fellow news consumers feel. What’s more likely to change your perspective and make you question yourself? It’s going to a rating page [for] an article, pointing out a specific problem in that article.”

To be clear, Credder isn’t hosting articles itself, simply crawling the web and creating rating pages for articles, publications and writers. As for making money, Palmieri said he’s considered both a tipping system and an ad system where publications can pay to promote their stories.

TechCrunch readers can check it out early by visiting the Credder website and using the promo code “TCNEWS”.