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Why FedEx CEO Fred Smith believes in this corporate safety app

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

You've heard the phrase, "See something, say something." Mobile safety platform LiveSafe, according to CEO Carolyn Parent, represents the additional "do something" part.

LiveSafe was founded in 2012 as an enterprise solution for corporations and colleges to solicit tips from employees and students who notice suspicious activity or an emergency. One of its cofounders, Kristina Anderson, was shot multiple times (but survived) in the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University.

No one can know if a platform like LiveSafe could have lessened the victim count of that particular shooting, but preventative action is the idea. Parent says that while many technologies exist for emergency notification—employees all receive a text message alerting them of something already happening—there wasn't an existing enterprise solution for prevention, something to go in the other direction: Employees alerting security about something bad. The platform "empowers employees... to help prevent incidents before they occur," Parent says.

On LiveSafe, an employee sees something—Parent lists examples like a broken door, a suspicious person, or even something like a fellow employee getting harassed—and sends a tip (anonymous if they wish) in the form of a text, picture, or video, to the company's security department. The platform also has a feature called SafeWalk that, if you turn it on, will track your walk, live, so that a human can ensure you make it to your car (or, say, dorm building) safely at night. The feature has received rave reviews from places like hospitals or shopping malls, where employees might be walking to their cars after work, late at night, alone, in a dark parking lot.

Local police like the system. Parent says, "They tell us all the time that they get tips and insights from our platform that they wouldn’t get otherwise." And Fred Smith, the founder and CEO of FedEx, likes it too. He likes it so much that he invested $5.25 million in LiveSafe and joined its board. (LiveSafe has raised $15.5 million to date, from investors including Barry Diller's IAC.) Smith "believes it's a disruptive technology," Parent says, "because security teams are really small at corporations and they can't be everywhere." The support of a logistics legend like Smith is a big score for LiveSafe. (Smith, who rarely gives interviews, would not comment for this story.)

To be sure, LiveSafe has the same challenge that any system of self-reporting carries: It requires people to actually use it. Because it is an enterprise product, companies pay LiveSafe to use the system and then encourage their employees to download it. That's not always easy, especially if it's a university asking its students to do so.

LiveSafe says it has 15 major corporate customers using it, including media giant Hearst and Cox Communications. It's being used by 104 college campuses across the country. It now has 34 full-time employees, a number that doubled in the last year.

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Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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