Three weeks ago, Rick Farnell took the helm as CEO at Appdetex, a brand-protection cyber security company in Boise, Idaho. 

“I was brought on to build and execute a new global go-to-market strategy and take advantage of the brand protection industry growth opportunity,” says Farnell. “We're not just investing in the product and machine learning, but also in sales, alliances, marketing, customer success operations, and new geographic regions to support our fast growing business.”

Farnell has worked in technology, AI, and the SaaS space for over 26 years, living in Park City, Utah, for most of them. Prior to this position, Farnell led multiple companies to global success, including C-Bridge, SeeBeyond (acquired by Sun Microsystems), and Teradata, which acquired Farnell’s own AI  company that he co-founded, Think Big Analytics. 

Before joining Appdetex, Farnell was CEO of a cybersecurity software company Protegrity, based in Salt Lake City and founded in 2004. Protegrity focuses on data encryption and data tokenization, tokenizing data of enterprise customers, frustrating would-be hackers who then have no information to find and exploit. In two and a half years, Farnell turned the company into a cybersecurity leader with double digit growth, re-architected its global go-to-market organization, improved its pricing strategy, and delivered on a successful rebranding initiative, all while dealing with a global pandemic. 

After handing off the baton and taking a small break, Farnell met with Nick Efstratis, Co-Founder and Managing Director at EPIC Ventures and was introduced to Appdetex. “I have known Rick for a long time. When the team decided we wanted to bring in a CEO with a proven track record to build on our already emerging success, Rick came to mind instantly.  He is a founder and an operator who fits perfectly into our next phase of growth at Appdetex,” says Efstratis.

EPIC Ventures led Appdetex’s $5.5 Million Series A round in April of 2017 and invested in both their B and C rounds. Origin Ventures, based in Park City, also contributed to all three A, B, and C rounds. Appdetex’s last round, a $12.2 million Series C, closed in January 2021. Overall, Appdetex has raised $29.6 million in funding since 2014. 

Appdetex is a B2B brand protection and cybersecurity SaaS company. The company developed Tracer, its own innovation, that scans the internet for scams and bad actors who use prominent brands to deceive consumers. This feed goes to the SaaS platform and allows customers and Appdetex analysts to discover, analyze, and enforce the take down of these networks. 

“Most of the world thinks of the cybersecurity space as all the different layers of cybersecurity that protect the known assets of a company,” says Farnell. “What I find fascinating here is that we're doing everything outside of that. It's bad actors that are acting with sophisticated ill intentions outside of our customers environments. They're not trying to hack our customers, they're just trying to mislead consumers to think they're working with them and getting consumers to engage and provide sensitive information, or worse, getting consumers to transfer money or unwillingly empty their crypto wallets and NFTs.” 

Founded in 2012 by Faisal Shah and Chris Bura, Appdetex started out in the mobile application space, searching and finding scammers who infringed upon big brands. They dealt with copyright and trademark issues initially with mobile app fraud, but quickly expanded to the internet, domains, social media, online marketplaces, and now the metaverse.

Appdetex works with businesses to protect their brands through both machine learning and human analysts. The company's Tracer software detects potential fraudulent activity associated with a brand or client. These hits are filtered, prioritized, and narrowed down through software. Then they are scrutinized  further by Appdetex analysts, who whittle down potential scams and highlight them for customers through a SaaS platform. Customers review and sent approval for Appdetex to take the fraudulent activity down. Appdetex also saves the valuable data for future insights and reporting needs. 

Fraud in the emerging markets of crypto, Web3, NFTs, and the metaverse are also right in Appdetex’s wheelhouse. The crypto market sees a growing amount of malicious intent with digital wallets being emptied by fraudulent transactions, phishing scams posing as safe crypto sites, and online Web2 communities try to trick consumers to thinking they are interacting with a known crypto or Web3 player. Appdetex finds coordinating actions across numerous social media platforms and mobile applications linking consumers back to fraudulent sites. Appdetex works to discover and stop these scams, ending them before they do any damage. 

As CEO, Farnell has plans to expand Appdetex in North America and invest in strategic global alliances; Appdetex already partners with LexisNexis, a global provider of legal, regulatory, and business information and analytics. Farnell also plans to hire and continue to expand operations in order to innovate on Appdetex’s current product, utilizing analytics, machine learning, and AI to grow the company further and "lead the market in Brand Protection well into the future." 

Farnell explains that Appdetex’s customers are global in nature. They’re the biggest companies in technology, gaming, financial services, fintech, and crypto. 

Appdetex currently has more than 125 employees. New hires will come from geographies where Appdetex serves its customers and partners. 

“I'm so excited to help Appdetex scale its business because it combines a number of areas I that love,” says Farnell. “Essentially, we're ingesting and scanning data from the entire digital world and finding needles in haystacks. We're finding people and organizations doing bad things and then working with our customers to take them down before they harm consumers. The combination of a fast growing, dynamic company using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity—making the world a safer place for all of us as consumers—checks all the boxes for me.” 

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