Social Media Narrative Detection Company Pendulum Secures $5.9 Million

By Annie Baker ● Jan 18, 2022
  • Pendulum recently announced it raised $5.9 million in seed funding. These are the details.

Pendulum – an AI/ML-powered platform for companies and government organizations to detect and understand harmful narratives on social media platforms and elsewhere – announced $5.9 million in seed funding. This funding round was led by Madrona Venture Group with participation from Cercano Management and others. Pendulum — which was spun out of Madrona Venture Labs — will use the funding to build their team and expand the platform.

Pendulum’s platform utilizes AI and Machine Learning to uncover threats and opportunities contained in narratives in the earliest days of their formation and track them as they spread online. And by dissecting and categorizing the narratives in text, video, and audio, on social media platforms, Pendulum enables companies, governments, and organizations to not only discover which narratives are developing into threats and opportunities in near real-time but also see how they are evolving. Pendulum is developing a platform that tracks narratives across any medium and already analyzes audio and video from major video platforms like YouTube, unmoderated platforms like BitChute and Rumble, and podcasts.

Pendulum was founded by CEO Mark Listes and Head of Data Science Sam Clark. Listes is known as a former national security leader who helped the U.S. Government combat harmful narratives and foreign election interference in 2016, and then went on to help lead the National Security Innovation Network, a U.S. Department of Defense innovation and venture engagement office. And Clark is known as a machine learning expert, who used his expertise in natural language processing to pioneer the novel narrative tracking technology that powers Pendulum’s unique abilities and built the world’s most comprehensive video dataset of election-related misinformation narratives for the 2020 election cycle. The two had met at Madrona Venture Labs where they worked with the team and with Madrona managing director, Hope Cochran, to further develop the company. Pendulum will have operations in Seattle, WA.

The narratives are created easily, rapidly spread, and inspire online and, increasingly, in-person action. And in today’s world, narratives can grow and emerge in an online community, before a company or target institution is even aware of it. Pendulum is empowering customers to be proactive and informed early, and enables them to engage with creators and their audiences to better understand these narratives and their origins.

And Pendulum has already begun working with early customers to identify risks contained in harmful narratives that are impacting their companies, employees, and society. They plan on making the technology more broadly available to new customers later this year.


“It is clear that social media has played a huge role in spreading harmful narratives that are driven by groups or individual creators. Corporations, individuals, and brands are often implicated in these narratives, but until now, they had no predictable way of catching the narrative before it was too late. By applying AI and ML to these complex mediums, we enable our customers to understand the growth of specific narratives and make data-informed decisions to stay ahead of the threats and opportunities.”

— Mark Listes, CEO

“The rise of potentially harmful narratives that espouse a perspective at odds with reality and demand action have been dramatic and are real threats to our institutions and organizations. Pendulum provides visibility that boards, corporate risk intelligence, government and other organizations need to identify and take quick action against the rising narratives in their nascent stages. The Pendulum team is uniquely suited to building a platform that will help provide these insights for a broad base of customers.”

— Hope Cochran, managing director, Madrona Venture Group