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k-ID wins $45 million to help game developers quickly resolve child safety compliance challenges

For independent game developers, compliance with regulations may be the last thing on their mind – they must first finish writing code, designing mechanics, and conducting countless rounds of testing to ensure that the game is actually fun. But compliance with regulations is often not an option, especially when it comes to child safety, and with global regulations changing rapidly, the task is becoming more difficult every year.

A startup called k-ID is hoping to simplify that compliance process, and it has raised $45 million in a Series A round to build out its platform to make it easy for game developers to comply with child safety and data privacy regulations.

The startup’s existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round. Okta, Z Venture Capital (owned by Z Holdings, a joint venture between SoftBank and Naver), and existing backers Konvoy Ventures and TIRTA Ventures also participated. The round brings the company’s total funding raised to $51 million.

“Our technology solves a difficult problem — what can you do with kids once they’re online — that is currently solved manually by lawyers and engineers,” k-ID CEO and co-founder Kieran Donovan told TechCrunch. Donovan previously worked as a partner at law firm Latham & Watkins, where he advised tech and gaming companies for more than a decade. “Over the past few years, a large part of his work has been supporting game publishers in building youth experiences and family tools to navigate complex regulatory issues.”

The funding comes at a critical time for the gaming industry – as more young people play online games, developers and publishers are increasingly catering to global audiences, which means they have to spend a lot of time and energy ensuring their games do not violate regional laws.

k-ID allows game developers and publishers to access its solutions through an API or SDK (Software Development Kit) on mobile devices. Its products are inherently connected to the game, helping developers quickly customize their games to meet the compliance requirements of each market.

Donovan said the k-ID software provides single sign-on for children and a way for guardians to scan a QR code and unlock features in games that might require parental approval. It can also automatically customize aspects of games that children can access — in line with local regulations and cultural differences. “For parents, it’s a unified console to manage and engage with all of their child’s games,” Donovan said. There’s also an option for guardians to approve or deny access to any AI content or tools that children might encounter in games.

In addition to the Series A funding, k-ID said it has partnered with the ESRB on a privacy certification program, which will provide the startup’s customers with a way to earn the ESRB’s Privacy Certified Kids seal.

“There is probably no more complex area of ​​regulation today than the regulation of children and young people online. Whether it’s chats, algorithms, content, loot boxes, or the definition of a child, which can be under seven or under 21 depending on the country, there is a lot to deal with,” Donovan said.

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