Facial Recognition Entrepreneur Brian Brackeen Settles Lawsuits With Kairos, The Company He Founded

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Brian Brackeen
Brian Brackeen, founder of Kairos. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

Kairos, the Miami facial recognition company, and its founder and former CEO, Brian Brackeen, announced today that they have dropped pending lawsuits against one another and have reached a settlement.

Brackeen remains a Kairos shareholder and will continue to be recognized as the founder.

An artificial intelligence company, Kairos gained national and international recognition under Brackeen’s leadership as a pioneer in facial recognition technology, attracting customers and investors from around the world.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 01: Brian Brackeen

Brian Brackeen talks about his path to starting Kairos, how blockchain can be applied to the NFL, and whether Disney’s “Black Panther” is revolutionary.

The company fired Brackeen from his job as CEO on Sept. 28, saying he had misled shareholders and potential investors, misappropriated corporate funds, failed to report to the board of directors and created a divisive atmosphere. Kairos followed with a lawsuit alleging theft and breach of fiduciary duties among other things.

Brackeen countersued for libel, civil conspiracy, violation of statutes and breach of contract.

“I’m very happy with the settlement,” Brackeen told Moguldom.

Melissa Doval, CEO of Kairos, thanked Brackeen for working towards a resolution. “We are pleased to be putting this episode behind us,” she said in a statement.

Brackeen’s next move is to become an investor at Lightship Capital, a new fund that invests in underrepresented founders. He is the managing partner. 

“Now I’m focused on using all of this new capacity and knowledge on helping underrepresented founders win,” Brackeen told Moguldom. “I want them to win on their terms, win for their families, win for their communities. Our VC fund (lightship.capital) will be the vehicle as I move to this next chapter. “

Face recognition technology notoriously fails Black people, Brackeen told Moguldom in an earlier report. It’s part of a bigger problem — technology’s diversity problem — where algorithms written by mostly white men are biased and have a hard time understanding different skin colors, different shades and genders. Brackeen worked passionately to solve the problems with the algorithm.

Although face recognition tech is used by law enforcement, there’s insufficient training data to teach the algorithm what women are vs. men, and what people of darker shades are vs lighter shades, according to Brackeen. The consequences have been catastrophic for people of color.

Brackeen sought to limit the use of facial recognition by law enforcement. Under his leadership, Kairos refused to provide its technology to police body camera maker Axon.

Some members of the Kairos board of directors did not share Brackeen’s vision and management style, according to Brackeen’s countersuit.

“I really hope Kairos stays out of government surveillance,” Brackeen told Moguldom. “That’s an area we were clear about during my time in leadership there. Government and facial recognition are a toxic cocktail. While it’s enticing, no amount of revenue is worth trading our civil liberties for.”

Brackeen said that he plans to leverage his background in artificial intelligence at Lightship Capital.

“We are agnostic at Lightship, yet we do have some natural areas of expertise,” he told Moguldom. “I have a strong background in AI, and that will help us greatly. We even use AI to find companies to invest in, as AI is excellent at finding needles in a haystack.”

In addition to AI, LightShip Capital also brings extensive background in consumer packaged goods to the table.

“(We) have a strong relationship with Proctor & Gamble to help our companies grow,” Brackeen said. “Three of our investments are Proctor & Gamble fellows because we were able to get them into the company.”

Brackeen encourages companies that are generating revenue, and are founded by a founder in an underrepresented group, to reach out to him.

“We look forward to investing in and deeply supporting these future leaders,” he said.