Gnip gets $2M to resell the Twitter firehose

Social media data startup partners with Twitter to sublicense access to half of the firehose tweets

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
November 18, 2010
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[Updated at 7:51 PST, Nov. 19 to clarify details of funding round.]

Gnip, a social media data provider for businesses, has raised a $2 million funding round led by previous investor Foundry Group with participation from First Round Capital, another existing investor. The news was uncovered by NetworkEffect. Additionally, Gnip announced a partnership with Twitter that will allow it to sell access to the data fountain of tweets known as the “firehose.”

Access to the firehose has been in demand since 2008, but Twitter is more important today than it has ever been. In turn, discovering what Twitter users are tweeting is more important than ever. The deal is less about making revenue for Twitter and more about distributing the data, according to Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, as were the deals Twitter made with Microsoft and Google (and later Yahoo) to incorporate tweets into search results. So said Williams yesterday onstage with John Battelle of Federated Media in the final Web 2.0 Summit conversation:

"Specifically, we've gotten demand from people and companies that want to look at this data to learn about trends and analytics for marketers and other companies to see what people are saying about X, Y, or Z,” explained Williams. “And there are a million ways to slice and dice this data, but we're not really in that business.”

Effective immediately, Gnip is charged withfirehose sublicensing public tweet data to developers. The data is available in three different forms, none of which provides the full Twitter firehose previously available.

The Halfhose is literally 50% of the full firehose. (In the same Web 2.0 chat, Williams claimed that “half is more than enough to do statistically relevant analysis on any topic analysis of data.") The Mentionhose is the stream of tweets that mention a specific user, including replies and retweets. The Decahose is 10% of the full firehose. Gnip says more are on the way and based on Twitter’s internal nicknames for some of them--”hosebird,” “hosedog,” “gardenhose”--they could be interesting.

Founded in 2008 by Eric Marcoullier, who sold his previous company MyBlogLog to Yahoo a year earlier for an estimated $10 million, Gnip has now raised a total of $6.5 million. At launch, Marcoullier had already raised $1 million from Foundry Group and SoftTech VC, with partners Brad Feld and Jeff Clavier, respectively, joining Gnip’s board. At the end of 2008, Gnip picked up another $3.5 million from the two prior investors plus First Round Capital. Marcoullier now operates a new site, onetruefan, which lets users see who's looking at the same websites as themselves.

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