The Team That Made Airbnb Safe For Guests is Bringing Full Automation to ID Verification

Initialized led a $2.5M seed in Berbix to bring real high quality software to an error-prone bug-ridden process that is the keystone of online markets

Garry Tan
Garry Tan
Jul 17, 2019 · 4 min read

Trust and reputation is a foundation of modern commerce. Plainly, you just really need to be able to make sure who you’re doing business is who they say they are. Greater transparency into another counterparty’s record and history can make it easier for strangers to do business together.

Airbnb has shown that when you create a software platform that puts those two sides of a marketplace together, you can create a multi-billion dollar opportunity by making something better, faster, and cheaper.

Eric Levine and Steve Kirkham, cofounders of Berbix

The team that launched Airbnb’s Verified ID feature is making it possible for everyone to do the same.

Trust and safety matters a lot to online marketplaces, and this team is going to bring that level of safety to billions more people through their next company Berbix.

Real software for ID verification, not just web forms and a front for Mechanical Turk.

Using humans is expensive, error prone, and literally defeats the purpose of having a process at all. What’s more, since you can’t really know if you are letting false positives through, you don’t actually establish the trust that is central to doing business online.

How it works: The thousand paper cuts of doing it right

  • Instant image quality verification
    You need clear and unobscured images to be able to do this, and you need to be able to tell that immediately so that you can let users upload a better one right away. Delay equals a lost customer.
  • Automatic ID type identification
    Users often get confused and upload the wrong kind of thing: military IDs, school IDs, work place IDs and credit cards. Nobody else does this instantly.
  • Fake ID blocking
    Berbix is also the only one with no human-in-the-loop that can actually flag and find fake IDs immediately: flawless ones that otherwise would confuse or trick humans are found this way
  • Deep specific data on IDs at the state and nation level
    The platform knows about specific state-issued IDs, by nation, province and state, and because it’s codified in software, the system gets better over time and doesn’t make false calls like a human would.

Trust and safety is the cornerstone of the Internet

Berbix takes the simplicity of the offline world’s identification system and brings it online. We’re proud to be a part of Berbix and can’t wait to see the kinds of new marketplaces that can thrive because it exists.

Learn more about how ID verification brings trust to online commerce at

Initialized Capital

Stories and thoughts on early-stage entrepreneurship from a…

Garry Tan

Written by

Garry Tan

Managing Partner, Initialized Capital. Designer/engineer turned early stage VC.

Initialized Capital

Stories and thoughts on early-stage entrepreneurship from a venture capital firm. We fund and help startups with their first check.

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