Safety in Motion: Evolv Technology’s Public Listing

By Alan Cohen 07.19.21

Animal life on earth relies on movement - migrations through the cycles of feeding, reproduction, and death. Animal migrations in large numbers depend on safety, even the community and shared knowledge that the herd provides. Humans also have migrations, whether local movements to schools, entertainment, work, longer trips like vacations, or even emigrations to new lands. And our migrations rely on safety and community, too.

Recently, human movements were frustrated by the continuing rise of violence in public venues—especially shootings—and the COVID-19 pandemic, both of which limited movements and created anxiety and sorrow in communities. Now, as the pandemic appears to wane, people want to return to ordinary life as quickly as possible. Society demands solutions that make vulnerable populations feel safe in public spaces, which support changing expectations for more frictionless movements and fewer interactions with strangers.

For over a century, the best physical security technologies restricted the movement of people at a massive scale. As a result, most people’s security experience occurs when entering a public venue; we walk through a technology initially developed for prisons: the metal detector. Metal detectors aren’t a terrible technology, but they falsely identify so many harmless objects that security guards must root through bags and pockets in slow, error-prone manual searches.

Mike Ellenbogen and Anil Chitkara founded DCVC portfolio company Evolv Technology after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing to address gun and weapon violence, a scourge that interrupts the natural flow of how we work, live, learn, play, and worship. Evolv delivers a contrasting experience: its technology finds more weapons than metal detectors. It also finds guns and knives missed through traditional bag checks that are not screened. It is a technology built to support the free flow of human migration into venues.

Evolv is a paragon of DCVC’s Deep Tech investment thesis: the company uses science (including sensors and radio frequencies) and AI (machine learning) to deliver a faster, safer, and more free-flowing experience. And it is cheaper than its predecessor: when you account for the highest cost of physical security—guards—Evolv is less expensive on a total cost of ownership basis than metal detectors when used at scale.

Safety in Motion

Today, Evolv becomes a public company. Under the leadership of CEO Peter George, the company has seen explosive growth and a rapidly expanding market over the past 18 months, including a quickly growing customer base, a deeper product line, and the best management team in the physical security industry.

DCVC Partner and Chairman of the Evolv Technology Board of Directors with Evolv Technology CEO Peter George in Times Square for the company's first day of trading.

Evolv has become the market leader in AI weapons screening: the Evolv Express accurately screens up to 3600 people per hour, without interrupting the natural pace of walkers. Like migrating animals, humans mostly move anonymously in groups to school, work, and play. We don’t expect our fellow fans or co-workers to threaten us: they are us.

I can’t wait to move around freely in a world made safe by Evolv Technology. The company is ready to help people reclaim their migrations and the simple joys of social interactions. As the psychologist Adam Grant noted recently:

“Collective effervescence happens when joie de vivre spreads through a group. Before Covid, research showed that more than three-quarters of people found collective effervescence at least once a week and almost a third experienced it at least once a day. They felt it when they sang in choruses and ran in races, and in quieter moments of connection at coffee shops and in yoga classes.”

With Evolv’s public listing today and its position as the market leader in free-flow AI-powered weapons detection and adjacent markets I’m excited to see how the company continues to tackle a total addressable market of over $20B. Some of the most iconic venues and forward-looking companies in America have already deployed Evolv to keep their employees and customers safe, including visitors to the Lincoln Center, L.L. Bean, Six Flags, and many more.

DCVC and I could not be prouder of being part of the journey with the Evolv team, and we look forward to the next years as the world discovers how Deep Tech can defeat violence.