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Crisis Text Line’s Financial Interest in Data

For the full timeline including references, please see detailed letter to Journal of Medical Internet Research.

At what point does publicly available information show that a for-profit interest in the crisis conversations entered, and how did it come about?  Dates below are approximate.

August 6, 2015  Crisis Text Line website lists members of its Data Ethics Committee, consisting of eleven members.

February 6, 2016 Data Ethics Committee increases to 16 members.   15 of these 16 members were also members of the data ethics committee convened for Crisis Text Line’s research ethics pilot study, an 18-month study during 2016-2017.

February 16, 2016  Crisis Text Line website posts information page relating to 18-month pilot study, titled “ENCLAVE DATA FAQ” and stating:

…“Who is blocked from access to the data?
Like, almost everyone on the planet! Only a handful of researchers are going to be approved.
All researchers must pass through a stringent application. In addition, we will NEVER share data…

  • For commercial use.
  • With individuals not associated with a university or research institution.
  • “Just because.” Yep. We reserve the right to reject any application, for any reason.

Are you selling this?
Nope. Heck no. Not gonna happen. Yuck. Gross.
(Read: no commercial use. Never ever ever.)”

October 3, 2017  Crisis Text Line removes the Enclave Data FAQ from its website.  Language about prohibitions on commercial use of data are removed.

November 16, 2017  Crisis Text Line, Inc. incorporates for-profit spinoff company, Inc., a state of Delaware general corporation.

January 10 and 12, 2018   

From Crisis Text Line financials:  “Effective January 12, 2018, CTL, Inc. acquired a 53% interest in, Inc. (“Loris AI”).  Additionally, … Loris AI will pay to CTL, Inc. an annual license fee of 1% of its net annual revenues in excess of $2,000,000 earned by Loris AI during each fiscal year”.

January 12, 2018  A company named Ikigai Alpha, Inc. is incorporated January 10, 2018, and files Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities reporting total sale of $2,000,000 USD. 

March 12, 2018 Crisis Text Line website posts Blog titled “What is”, which says “How can we fundraise in a way that helps us further our purpose of putting more empathy in the world?  The answer: a subsidiary for-profit venture called…

March 2018 launches website.  “PROPRIETARY EDGE  … The intelligence gleaned from both the Crisis Text Line training and large sentiment-rich data corpus will be leveraged to create enterprise software.”

July 13, 2018 Pilot study paper submitted to Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR).

November 13, 2018 Pilot study paper accepted for publication in Journal of Medical Internet Research.

December 15, 2018 website posted the following:


We’ve heard from nearly 100 companies who value compassion, empathy, and the ability to navigate hard conversations. The beta is full. Would you like to be on our waitlist?

January 17, 2019 Pilot study is published in Journal of Medical Internet Research.

December 9, 2019, Inc. (previous name Ikigai Alpha, Inc.) files Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities reporting sale of $5,139,857 USD total amount sold, date of first sale for the filing is given as November 27, 2019.  Form says gross proceeds may be used to pay salary of Nancy Lublin, then CEO of Crisis Text Line, Inc. and others named.

Comment:  This timeline demonstrates that during the time that the research ethics pilot study was in progress and the resulting paper submitted for publication, Crisis Text Line, Inc. was launching a for-profit commercial enterprise that would feature “learnings” from its crisis conversation data and provide direct monetary benefit.

Letter to JMIR including full timeline with references.


Photo credit Hilary Freed, used with permission.