AI out­fit Be­havox to move global hub to Mon­treal

Ris­ing de­mand for com­pli­ance soft­ware, ‘deep pool’ of tal­ent spur ex­pan­sion

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Be­havox, a New York- and Lon­don-based AI data an­a­lyt­ics com­pany backed by Softbank’s Vi­sion Fund 2, is mov­ing its global hub to Mon­treal and is look­ing to em­ploy 500 peo­ple, The Logic has learned.

The com­pany has signed a Us$35-mil­lion lease com­mit­ment for the top two floors at Mai­son Manu­vie in down­town Mon­treal.

Be­havox has had an R&d-fo­cused of­fice in the city since 2018, which it promised would grow to 200 peo­ple.

It cur­rently houses 75 staff, but with the ex­panded real es­tate foot­print, the com­pany is now plan­ning to have half of its pro­jected 1,000-mem­ber work­force in Mon­treal in the next few years.

CEO and founder Erkin Adylov told The Logic the com­pany will look to hire 15 to 20 peo­ple ev­ery month.

“Mon­treal will be by far our big­gest of­fice,” he said, adding that he him­self is re­lo­cat­ing there from New York City.

Ac­cord­ing to Adylov, the mo­ti­va­tions for Be­havox’s ex­pan­sion are twofold: Mon­treal’s “deep pool of tech­ni­cal tal­ent and ex­per­tise” and a grow­ing de­mand for data-pro­tec­tion com­pli­ance soft­ware from Canada’s fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

The com­pany cur­rently serves over a dozen banks and pen­sion funds in Canada, the names of which Adylov was “pro­hib­ited” from dis­clos­ing, and hopes to grow its Cana­dian clien­tele to “the low teens” by the end of the year.

To do so, Adylov said he wanted to be “closer to them,” not­ing that around 20 to 25 per cent of the com­pany ’s global rev­enues comes from Canada, which is home to “some of (Be­havox’s) largest cus­tomers.”

Founded in 2014, Be­havox has cre­ated what it ad­ver­tises as “the only end-to-end data op­er­at­ing plat­form” in the world.

It uses ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and deep learn­ing to ag­gre­gate and an­a­lyze cor­po­rate data, to both se­cure it and make it search­able.

The plat­form can then be used to en­sure com­pli­ance with reg­u­la­tions, gain in­sights into risk in busi­ness oper­a­tions by iden­ti­fy­ing rogue ac­tiv­ity among em­ploy­ees or sys­tem breaches, and project sales and prof­its.

Ac­cord­ing to Adylov, the plat­form is “a Google-like search for pri­vate data”— although the com­pany’s mea­sure of suc­cess, he said, is to have the cor­po­rate world switch the phrase “let’s Google it” to “let’s Be­havox it.”

“Our mis­sion is about or­ga­niz­ing and mak­ing use­ful all the pri­vate data on the planet,” Adylov said.

“We are es­sen­tially ar­chiv­ing or ag­gre­gat­ing all of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions data that is be­ing gen­er­ated by the com­pa­nies, be it Slack mes­sages, emails, et cetera … and make it search­able.”

Be­havox an­nounced a Us$100-mil­lion in­vest­ment from Softbank Vi­sion Fund 2 in Fe­bru­ary — one of five in­vest­ments the fund made be­fore it en­tered a state of limbo.

Adylov told Busi­ness In­sider that Softbank was in the mar­ket for com­pli­ance soft­ware for its in­ter­nal oper­a­tions, which led to the in­vest­ment.

Adylov wouldn’t say if the in­vest­ment was a driv­ing fac­tor be­hind the Mon­treal ex­pan­sion, not­ing that the com­pany had been prof­itable for quite some time.

Adylov said he had long sought to shift Be­havox’s global hub, say­ing that Lon­don had an abun­dance of cus­tomers but “a shal­low tal­ent pool,” and call­ing New York City just a fi­nan­cial, not a tech­no­log­i­cal hub.

“I needed to be closer to our cus­tomers ... I needed a tech­nol­ogy hub some­where in North Amer­ica,” he said.

“We toyed around with Mex­ico, but Mon­treal has ev­ery­thing. It has a depth of tal­ent, tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise and cus­tomers.”

The com­pany’s ex­pan­sion and re­lo­ca­tion has re­ceived pub­lic back­ing from In­vestisse­ment Québec (IQ), Mon­tréal In­ter­na­tional and the Que­bec gov­ern­ment, but no di­rect sub­sidy.

Hu­bert Bolduc, pres­i­dent of IQ, told The Logic Be­havox’s de­ci­sion was a “boost” for the prov­ince’s AI sec­tor, and part of a grow­ing trend that’s seen Mon­treal at­tract Big Tech com­pa­nies like Face­book and Google over the last three years, which opened smaller shops and then ex­panded a few years later.

“They come in, like what they see and stay and grow,” Bolduc said, cred­it­ing the city’s low cost of liv­ing and cul­ture, the over 1,300 AI sci­en­tists and ex­perts, the fed­eral Scale AI su­per­clus­ter pro­gram and pro­vin­cial tax cred­its for re­search and devel­op­ment.

Bolduc added that the city was see­ing a grow­ing cy­ber­se­cu­rity sec­tor, with many AI tal­ent nat­u­rally shift­ing there. “Be­havox is the com­bi­na­tion of both,” he said.

“They’re us­ing ma­chine learn­ing to help pre­vent fraud. Mon­treal is a great place to do that.”

Adylov said Be­havox would ben­e­fit, for ex­am­ple, from the grow­ing user in­ter­face ex­per­tise in Mon­treal’s engi­neer­ing com­mu­nity, which he at­trib­uted to the city’s bur­geon­ing gam­ing in­dus­try. He also noted the con­tri­bu­tions of or­ga­ni­za­tions like El­e­ment AI and Mila in es­tab­lish­ing Mon­treal as a cen­tre for ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

Adylov doesn’t, how­ever, con­sider these AI firms com­peti­tors.

“The only thing we share is ma­chine learn­ing, but how we use it couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent,” Adylov said. “We ac­tu­ally like the fact that the ecosys­tem is quite vi­brant and there are a lot of com­pa­nies in the an­a­lyt­ics and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence space in Mon­treal.”

“The more com­pa­nies in Canada, the more likely the tal­ent pool will im­prove in qual­ity and breadth and depth. Com­pe­ti­tion for tech­ni­cal tal­ent is good be­cause it drives in­no­va­tion, it drives im­prove­ment in the qual­ity of prod­ucts.”

Adylov added he was “keen to es­tab­lish re­la­tion­ships with gov­ern­ments di­rectly” so the com­pany can “make big in­vest­ments in the Cana­dian econ­omy” and “con­trib­ute di­rectly to the com­mu­ni­ties.”

With the Mon­treal ex­pan­sion un­der­way, Adylov’s next step is to in­vest in Be­havox’s core tech­nol­ogy by hir­ing more prod­uct en­gi­neers and data sci­en­tists.

He is also eye­ing an IPO, the tim­ing of which, he said, de­pends on mar­ket con­di­tions.

“I wouldn’t be sur­prised if we’re la­belled a Cana­dian IPO and a Cana­dian suc­cess,” he said.

Mon­treal has ev­ery­thing. It has a depth of tal­ent, tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise and cus­tomers.

BE­HAVOX

Be­havox CEO and founder Erkin Adylov says he is bullish on growth prospects in Canada. He’s seen with em­ploy­ees at a re­treat in Mon­treal.

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