UC Davis Affiliated Startup Developing Ecommerce Fraud Prevention Solutions Acquired by Stripe

Sam King, UC Davis associate professor of Computer Science and co-founder of Bouncer Technologies.

Sam King, UC Davis associate professor of Computer Science and co-founder of Bouncer Technologies.

Bouncer Technologies, a startup founded on technology developed at the University of California, Davis, has been acquired by Stripe, a global technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet.

Bouncer was founded in 2019 by UC Davis Associate Professor of Computer Science Sam King along with fellow ex-Lyft employees Will Megson and Steven Liu. The company developed a new, secure app called Bouncer Scan that uses machine learning to read credit cards in seconds and reject fraudulent cards, transactions and phones.

Bouncer Scan is an app that can be integrated into a business’ ecommerce platform. It allows the user to scan an image of the card and captures the necessary information for secure payment while rejecting fraudulent schemes like images of cards, fake cards and phones used to scan thousands of cards. The company states that the analysis is performed locally on the user’s mobile phone and that a subset of the data is transmitted without the image.

Stripe plans to integrate Bouncer’s technology into Stripe Radar, a fraud prevention tool whose machine learning models are trained on purchases made at millions of companies around the world every day.

“Bouncer has developed a great tool for modern internet businesses, providing a way to quickly identify stolen cards, while also ensuring legitimate customers can transact without being blocked,” said Simon Arscott, Business Lead for Stripe’s Radar fraud prevention product. “We’re thrilled to welcome the Bouncer team, and their years of experience building payment authentication software for businesses.”

Leveraging the Intersections of Industry and Research

Bouncer’s foundational technology was developed in King’s lab at UC Davis and licensed through the university’s technology transfer office — InnovationAccess.

Having made a round-trip from academic research to industry and then back to academic research, King developed an appreciation for how the two benefited each other.

King previously held positions at Lyft and Twitter during his stint in industry. He had also launched a startup that was acquired by Twitter.

“The most important lesson I learned from my time in industry was how the software you build impacts real people who are trying to use the apps that we protect,” said King. “We took this perspective — one of putting the end-users first — and applied it to everything we did.” This guided his team’s research and development towards the idea of scanning cards instead of blocking suspicious transactions and applying machine learning and systems to ensure that everyone has equal access to apps.

King leveraged the technology commercialization resources at UC Davis.

“I view the technology transfer process as one that empowers faculty to do more with their research as opposed to an endpoint,” said King. “We are fortunate to have resources like Venture Catalyst and InnovationAccess at UC Davis to facilitate success at that intersection.”

UC Davis Venture Catalyst helped Bouncer secure its first working space at Davis Coworking, one of several incubator facilities participating in the university’s Distributed Research Incubation & Venture Engine (DRIVETM) network.

“The progress that the Bouncer team has made has been remarkable and we would like to congratulate them and the team at Stripe on the acquisition,” said Bill Tucker, interim associate vice chancellor for Innovation and Technology Commercialization. “It is very fulfilling to see innovations translated from university research enter the market and deliver value to society.”

King says another key enabler for Bouncer was being accepted to the prestigious and highly-competitive Y-Combinator program in 2019. This program, located in Silicon Valley, provides funding, training and connections to help secure investments.

“Research asks long-term questions and works on harder problems, and the company takes these ideas and builds real software for real people,” he said. “Combining the two together gives you the best of both worlds and in my opinion, you have to have both if you want to solve problems.”

UC Davis to Lead New Artificial Intelligence Institute for Next Generation Food Systems

UC Davis to Lead New Artificial Intelligence Institute for Next-Generation Food Systems

The University of California, Davis, has been awarded $20 million as part of a multi-institutional collaboration to establish an institute focused on enabling the next-generation food system through the integration of artificial intelligence, or AI, technologies. The award is part of a larger investment announced today (Aug. 26) by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, in partnership with several federal agencies — distributing a total of $140 million to fund seven complementary AI research institutes across the nation.

The AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems, or AIFS, aims to meet growing demands in our food supply by increasing efficiencies using AI and bioinformatics spanning the entire system — from growing crops through consumption. This includes optimizing plant traits for yield, crop quality and disease resistance through advances in molecular breeding, in addition to minimizing resource consumption and waste through development of agriculture-specific AI applications, sensing platforms, and robotics. The team’s plan also intends to benefit consumers through enhancements to food safety and development of new tools to provide real-time assessment of meals that can guide personalized health decisions.

‘Paving the way to a transformation’

“The food system is ripe for disruption, with many advances over the past decade paving the way to a transformation,” said Ilias Tagkopoulos, professor in the UC Davis Department of Computer Science and Genome Center, and director of the new institute. “AI will serve as both the enabling technology and the connective tissue that brings together these elements and catalyzes this transformation to a safer, fairer and more efficient food system for the next generation.”

Other principal investigators from UC Davis include Nitin Nitin, professor in the Departments of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and of Food Science and Technology; Mason Earles, assistant professor in the Departments of Viticulture and Enology and of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; and Xin Liu, professor in the Department of Computer Science.

The institute has been designed to be inclusive, fostering collaborations to develop open-source AI solutions across the food system. Given food’s fundamental role in human health and well-being, coupled with its far-reaching impacts on the national economy and environment, the institute will bring together more than 40 researchers from six institutions: UC Davis; UC Berkeley; Cornell University; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; UC Agriculture and Natural Resources; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Engagement and collaboration

In addition to the scientific and technical objectives, the institute’s charter includes a significant focus on education, outreach and collaboration.

“Our success won’t only come from breakthroughs and innovation of new technologies and systems, but also a ready workforce, an engaged public and collaboration with industry partners to solve real challenges,” said Gabriel Youtsey, chief innovation officer at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The institute’s plan includes programs specific for K-16 education, college internships and fellowships, curriculum enrichment, broadening participation and diversity, corporate engagement, and knowledge transfer. These programs will be bolstered by leveraging existing platforms such as UC Davis’ Innovation Institute for Food and Health, CITRIS Banatao Institute and Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship, or VINE. Additional efforts are planned in alignment with NSF’s call to ensure AI systems are secure, safe, ethical and fair through design, accountability and transparency.

Development of the proposal for the award was facilitated by the Interdisciplinary Research and Strategic Initiatives division of the Office of Research at UC Davis. The institute is designated as a special research program under the administration of the Office of Research.

Assembled expertise offers hope

“As with many of our world’s greatest challenges, addressing the critical needs in our food supply requires extensive collaboration between experts from different disciplines,” said Prasant Mohapatra, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. “The collection of expertise assembled for this new institute brings much hope for transformative advancements to be realized.”

Funding for the institute is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture as part of a larger initiative led by the U.S. National Science Foundation to establish new artificial intelligence institutes to accelerate research, expand America’s workforce and transform society in the decades to come. The NSF AI institutes will collaborate with industry and government to advance the frontiers of AI as well as a range of science and engineering disciplines and societal sectors that stand to benefit from AI innovation.

“Recognizing the critical role of AI, NSF is investing in collaborative research and education hubs, such as the USDA-NIFA AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems anchored at UC Davis, which will bring together academia, industry, and government to unearth profound discoveries and develop new capabilities advancing American competitiveness for decades to come,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation. “Just as prior NSF investments enabled the breakthroughs that have given rise to today’s AI revolution, the awards being announced today will drive discovery and innovation that will sustain American leadership and competitiveness in AI for decades to come.”

Media Resources

Ilias Tagkopoulos, Genome Center, 530-752-4821, [email protected]

AJ Cheline, Office of Research, 530-752-1101, [email protected]

Andy Fell, News and Media Relations, 530-752-4533, [email protected]