By Hope King
From monitoring and predicting to now underwriting, the celebrity data and research firm Spotted is expanding its risk assessment business to provide end-to-end celebrity disgrace protection.
The 3-year-old Boston startup will begin selling its first disgrace insurance product in August, with payouts that begin at $10 million ー 40 times higher than comparable existing policies, the company says.
Over the last few years, amid a proliferation of mass social media use, Spotted CEO Janet Comenos says the number of these policies in the U.S. has risen as much as 2,000 percent. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have also helped to accelerate the demand for the insurance.
Since its founding, Spotted has been tracking and measuring the likelihood of celebrity scandals and tracks as many as 23,000 personalities in its database.
The company collects more than 400 biographical data points on each person, including family upbringing, work history, social causes and political contributions. Meanwhile, Spotted's in-house behavioral psychologists and statisticians analyze the personal metrics against research on disgraceful behaviors to predict the risk of a future controversial event.
"One of the really fascinating things in building this product out is that we can see two individuals both exhibit very bad behavior, but for one of them it can be a career-ending incident and for the other they can recover in a matter of days," Comenos said of some of the research findings.
Companies ranging from Hollywood studios to consumer brands take out disgrace insurance to protect themselves in case a star gets in hot water. Spotted's data help pair celebrities with brands, and provide risk indexes for insurance companies to create these policies and claims.
"We've actually seen more than 50 percent of the Fortune 1000 revamp their sexual harassment policies in the wake of the #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein scandal, and it's just becoming an imperative to protect yourself," the CEO said.
Seeing the opportunity, Comenos and her team have spent the past 15 months on the company's own insurance product.
"We didn't want to give up a significant portion of the economics to a large partner," Comenos said of the realization to expand and pivot the company. "We wanted to build the product."
While Spotted is the underwriter and owns the underwriting data, the company will continue to partner with Lloyds of London, the oldest insurance company in the world, which pays for the loss.
Spotted has raised $11.5 million in funding since 2016.