NLP firm raises $37M in series B2 to grow ESG, sentiment analysis services


In 2014, three college students embarked on a mission to unravel the secrets of financial markets using the power of artificial intelligence (AI). The trio, Sylvain Forté, Pierre Rinaldi and Florian Aubry, founded SESAMm with the aim of harnessing the formidable might of social media to generate sentiment indicators. 

Today, France-based SESAMm utilizes natural language processing (NLP) technology to extract insights from its proprietary data lake, which contains over 20 billion articles from free and premium sources. The firm just announced the closing of a series B2 funding round of €35 million ($37 million). The series B2 round was co-led by deep tech VC firm Elaia and Opera Tech Ventures, the venture capital arm of BNP Paribas.

Sentiment analysis, ESG insights from over 5 million companies

The SESAMm technology has found use by data and business teams including ESG (environmental, social and governance) specialists, procurement teams and deal teams. The company provides a range of use cases, including ESG controversy detection; detection of positive-impact events; competitive intelligence; and quantitative investment, with NLP signals generated on equities and macroeconomic factors.

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

Traditional ESG scores have come under scrutiny because of their lag in updates, issues with methodology and lack of transparency. SESAMm aims to solve these problems by providing up-to-date and unbiased information on companies. Its extensive coverage of more than five million private and public companies includes small and mid-cap firms in Europe and emerging markets, and private companies worldwide.

The company’s off-the-shelf ESG and reputational risk metrics provide investors and corporations with data where there are data gaps. Furthermore, SESAMm helps companies detect and protect against new risks in an increasingly complex macro environment through AI-powered real-time monitoring of inflation mentions across all geographies on the web.

NLP for private equity, finance and more

SESAMm counts as customers seven of the top 10 private equity firms worldwide, as well as other corporations of various sizes. The company’s plans focus on developing new products, with an emphasis on sustainability frameworks, taxonomies, and standardized reputational scores.

“SESAMm wants to become the premier NLP platform for financial firms and corporations looking to enhance their decision-making process by leveraging insights from the web. Our ultimate goal is to be an enabler for companies looking to maximize returns and mitigate risks,” Forté told VentureBeat. “We aim to make web data a real source of business insights using advanced technology. With such a keen focus on sustainability, we can only fulfill our goal of helping firms of all types to achieve their goals if SESAMm itself is truly a sustainable, profitable and responsible company.” 

Other participating companies in SESAMm funding include asset manager Unigestion, Raiffeisen Bank International’s (RBI) venture capital entity Elevator Ventures, AFG Partners, CEGEE Capital, and historical backers including Carlyle (CG) and New Alpha Asset Management. Each participated in the previous series B1 round.

This latest round brings the total funding raised to €50 million ($53 million). This funding will enable SESAMm to further expand into U.S. and Asian markets; support development of AI-powered ESG and sentiment analytics; and hire key talent across sustainability, technology, sales and marketing.

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