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Andreesen Horowitz and Index Ventures back Factual, an open and collaborative data set platform
Factual, an open and collaborative data platform, announced Thursday that it has secured $25 million in a first round of financing co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and Index Ventures, with participation from Michael Ovitz and SV Angel, founded by Ron Conway. Andreessen Horowitz previously contributed to the startup’s seed round.
Ben Horowitz and Danny Rimer, from Andreessen Horowitz and Index Ventures, respectively, will join the Factual board of directors.
Headquarted in sunny Santa Monica, Calif., Factual hosts hundreds of thousands of data sets across multiple verticals, including Education, Entertainment, Government and Health. For example, here is a data set called “Seed-Stage Startup Accelerators” created by one “robert.” (Robert Scoble, is that you?) Already, 63 rows are filled in that set, with names like Berkeley Ventures and Seedcamp populating the list. Akin to a Wikipedia collaboration effort, anyone can edit the set. In fact, the entry for “Berkeley Ventures” was originally misspelled as “Berkley Ventures,” an error I corrected in a matter of seconds.
Unlike on Wikipedia, however, anonymous users cannot make edits. Users must register either by choosing a user name and email or by logging in with their social network.
Interestingly, while Factual originally had a broader focus, looking to aggregate data in nearly every major vertical imaginable, the startup has shifted its focus to one space particularly hot in Silicon Valley right now: local. In September, the company launched local data sets for over 14 million US businesses and millions more internationally. Factual has also signed partnership deals with Home Junction and Booyah, and is delivering local data for Facebook Places.
“The primary developer demographic for our products is people building web and mobile applications,” explained Gil Elbaz, founder and CEO of Factual, in an interview. “They're most interested in the place database we're offering. That database includes businesses, points of interest, and contact information such as phone and address, as well as category and latitude and longitude. That dataset is of interest to anyone with a location aware service.”
Elbaz, along with partner Adam Weismann, is most well-known for co-founding in 1998 a little company called Applied Semantics, which would sell to Google for $102 million in 2003. The service evolved into Google’s ad serving application called AdSense, which now earns the company about a third of its revenue.
That’s why it’s not very surprising to see such prominent investors backing Elbaz’s ambitious new data-hungry startup.
“What's been super-shocking is how many customers he's been able to get on the platform and how diverse they've been,” admitted Ben Horowitz in an interview with Fortune. “It's changed our thinking a lot about the market, in that it seems to be ahead of the literature and conventional views on where things are at.”
Some of Factual customers so far include Newsweek, Kosmix and Spatial Match.
The company will use its new funding mostly to hire new top-tier talent in engineering.
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Kosmix was acquired by Walmart in May of 2011 to create @WalmartLabs.
Through the innovative fusion of retail, social and mobile, @WalmartLabs is redefining Commerce for the largest retailer worldwide. We are a group comprised of the brightest technologists and businesspeople in the industry, excited about the limitless opportunities that this next generation of Commerce will bring to billions of people around the globe, all in an effort to help them save money and live better.
Kosmix was funded by Time Warner Investments, Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Dag Ventures, private investor Ed Zander and Jeff Bezos' personal investment company, Bezos Expeditions.
WalmartLabs is hiring.