AUSTIN STARTUP ENVISIONS ‘NEXT IN­TER­NET’

Com­pany’s browser lets users en­dorse sto­ries they read on the web.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Lori Hawkins lhawkins@states­man.com

A new Austin startup wants to put an end to fake news, fake profiles and “al­ter­na­tive facts” on­line.

Authen­ti­cated Re­al­ity launched its prod­uct, a browser called “The New In­ter­net,” in pri­vate beta test­ing this week.

The browser es­sen­tially sits on top of every web page its users visit, let­ting them au­then­ti­cate sto­ries they be­lieve are real by plac­ing their dig­i­tal sig­na­ture on them as an en­dorse­ment.

“With the lat­est plague of fake news, fake com­ments, fake ad­ver­tis­ing, fake ev­ery­thing, we know the time is right for this,” said Chris Ci­abarra, co-founder and chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer for Authen­ti­cated Re­al­ity. “Our plat­form puts power into the hands of the peo­ple to call out false­hoods and ma­li­cious­ness on the

in­ter­net. We’re do­ing this by en­sur­ing all users in the

com­mu­nity are real peo­ple who have been prop­erly ver­i­fied in or­der to be ac­tive on

the plat­form.” Here’s how it works: Users cre­ate an ac­count on Authen­ti­cated Re­al­ity’s web­site by log­ging in with a so­cial me­dia ac­count and scan­ning the bar­code on

their driver’s li­cense.

When ap­proved, users down­load the com­pany’s browser onto their de­vice

and surf the web as they or­di­nar­ily would. Users can also rate and com­ment on every web page through a

pop-up side­bar, which lets you see the ac­tual iden­tity of oth­ers who are com­ment­ing.

Down­load­ing the browser will cost $19.99 per user for per­sonal ac­counts, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s web­site.

Authen­ti­cated Re­al­ity is also pur­su­ing busi­ness and gov­ern­ment cus­tomers. Pric- ing hasn’t been dis­closed for those users, the com­pany said.

“All busi­nesses need email au­then­ti­ca­tion. A lot of peo- ple are im­per­son­at­ing other peo­ple right now. It’s like ‘Is this per­son real who’s com­ing through my door or not?’ ” Ci­abarra said. “Our email plat­form adds a layer of au­then­tic­ity to all on­line busi­ness in­ter­ac­tions.”

Prior to found­ing Authen- ticated Re­al­ity, Ci­abarra was co-founder and chief tech- nol­ogy of­fi­cer of Revel, a San Fran­cisco-based iPad point-of-sale startup. Cia- barra left Revel ear­lier this year, fol­low­ing a change in the com­pany’s top man­age­ment.

But Ci­abarra said he was al­ready lay­ing the foun- da­tion for Authen­ti­cated Re­al­ity while still at Revel. He looked at sev­eral cities be­fore choos­ing Austin for the com­pany’s head­quar­ters.

“In San Fran­cisco, ev­ery­body al­ready has a good job and it’s real hard to find tal

ent,” he said. “I’ve been to Austin many times, and it seems to be a bet­ter place to run a startup.”

The com­pany now has 12 em­ploy­ees at its of­fices at 600 Congress Ave. The com­pany, which Ci­abarra

said has raised seed money from undis­closed in­vestors, is hir­ing in en­gi­neer­ing, mar- ket­ing and fi­nance.

As Authen­ti­cated Real- ity pre­pares to launch its browser to the p ublic, among the chal­lenges will be get­ting peo­ple to try it out, said co-founder and

CEO Darin An­der­sen. “A lot of peo­ple are sort of worn down by se­cu­rity, so it’s hard to put out yet

an­other prod­uct,” he said. “But at a time when peo­ple are look­ing for some­thing fresh, this is an op­por­tu­nity for them to take their se­cu­rity back and con­trol it them­selves. We’re ex­cited

about that.”

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