Sesamm raises $37 million to give companies ESG insights using natural language processing

by Ana Lopez

Sesamea French start-up that helps financial firms and companies adhere to their ESG targets by using natural language processing (NLP) to generate insights from digital content has raised €35 ​​million ($37 million) in a funding round to expand internationally.

Despite a growing backlash against ESG efforts from some politicians and vocal executives, companies are still aware of the reputational and commercial risks of ignoring their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) responsibilities. This applies to their internal practices as well as those of third parties. parties with whom they do business.

With that in mind, Sesamm enables companies to track textual data from across the web — including news portals, NGO reports, and social networks — and turn it into actionable insights.

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Sesamm founders Pierre Rinaldi, Sylvain Forté and Florian Aubry Image credits: Sesame

Founded in Paris in 2014, Sesamm has amassed quite an impressive number of clients from all over the financial world, including the US investment giant Carly groupFrench business and investment bank NatixisJapanese multinational insurance holding company Tokyo Navyand UK-based asset manager Unigestion.

Companies can access Sesamm’s flagship product, TextReveal, through various conduits, including an API that brings Sesamm’s NLP engine into their own systems. But beyond that, Sesamm also offers a web-based dashboard where companies can access data analytics, visualizations, and push notifications for various due diligence, compliance, and ESG scenarios.

For example, a company that wants to keep an eye on its supply chain partners can use Sesamm to track anything related to those partners that is made public, such as emerging fraud cases or other lawsuits. This allows them to proactively respond as soon as they receive an alert via Sesamm – these ESG alerts, which Sesamm launched a few months agocan be delivered via email or system integrations, for example a customer relationship management (CRM) application.

Elsewhere, private equity firms can use Sesamm for due diligence on potential acquisition or investment targets. Indeed, Sesamm boasts a “data lake of 20 billion articles” to which it applies its NLP algorithms to identify listings from any type of business, slicing, dicing and categorizing the data into easy-to-use dashboards.

“Private equity firms usually work with consulting firms to perform due diligence on target companies,” Sesamm co-founder and CEO Sylvain Forté explained to businessupdates.org. “The cost of doing this is very high and the result is sub-optimal because the amount of data on the internet is huge for individuals to go through. Therefore, the results are often not complete enough, which leads to inaccuracies.”

However, the Sesamm platform can be configured for any number of use cases, such as share of voice competitor analysis or any other theme that may be relevant to a business.

“With the current focus on ESG in the industry, many of our use cases focus on that – however, we provide insight into different types of information,” said Forté. “This includes sentiment about brands, thematic stock baskets and indices, the reputation of companies’ leadership and web insights on macroeconomic indicators such as inflation, among others.”

Sample ESG dashboard produced through Sesamm Image credits: Sesame

According to Forté, Sesamme pre-trains large language models—similar to those of ChatGPT, the generative AI poster child of the moment—on all the data it collects, and refines algorithms on its own datasets, which are annotated across the 100+ languages ​​it uses. it supports.

“Sesamm integrates a variety of data — more than 20 billion articles in 100 languages ​​with 14 years of history,” Forté said. “Data sources include well-researched news organizations, expert blogs and social media. Sesamm also manages licenses for proprietary data sources of premium news channels.”

Sesame NLP in action Image credits: Sesame

Sesamm’s competition includes a slew of well-funded rivals, including New York-based AlphaSense, which hit a $1.7 billion valuation last year, and Dataminr, which was most recently a $4.1 billion company. And Fact seta $15 billion financial data powerhouse, entered the realm of AI-powered ESG data when it Truvalue Labs acquired three years ago.

However, against the backdrop of the ChatGPT hype train and fast-growing corporate ESG commitmentsthe fact that Sesamm has raised a significant sum of money at a time when investor money has seemingly dried up tells something of a story.

“Raising a significant amount of money during challenging market conditions highlights the relevance of Sesamm’s focus on two key trends: AI and sustainability,” said Forté. “These tools, in turn, empower organizations to make better decisions and fill in the data gaps, particularly on ESG, across both public and private companies.”

Previously, Sesamm had raised about €15 million ($16 million), and with its latest cash injection — which it calls a Series B2 round — the startup is ushering in a slew of new and existing investors, some of whom are also clients. These include BNP Paribas’ VC arm Opera Tech Ventures, which co-led the round with VC firm Elaia; Carlyle group; ungestion; VC offshoot Elevator Ventures of Raiffeisen Bank International; AFG Partners, CEGEE Capital and New Alpha Asset Management.

Sesamm said it plans to use its new capital to further expand into the US and Asian markets.

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