British entrepreneur’s social mining platform DataSift takes funding to over $70m

Company started by Nick Halstead secures $42m Series C round to fund international growth

The social data platform started by British entrepreneur Nick Halstead has secured a $42m Series C round, with investment led by Insight Venture Partners.

Insight Venture Partners previously participated in Twitter’s $100m Series D round in 2009, an $85m deal for Tumblr in 2011, as well as HootSuite’s $165m Series B round earlier this year, among over 190 investments.

Started in Reading in 2010, DataSift’s latest deal was backed by Scale Venture Partners, Upfront Ventures, IA Ventures, Northgate Capital, Daher Capital and Cendana Capital, and has taken the company’s total fundraising to more than $70m.

It previously secured $15m in November 2012, $6m in July 2011, and $1.5m seed funding from serial software entrepreneur David Richmond in 2010.

DataSift, which aggregates, filters, and extracts insights from social media interactions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and “millions of other sources”, plans to invest in its platform, resource greater sales and marketing spend, and move into new data types, such as internal enterprise data.

With offices in Reading, San Francisco, and New York, DataSift started life as an off-shoot of Halstead’s now defunct but popular Twitter news feed service TweetMeme (which itself emanated from social sharing button

It has since become one of only three companies – Topsy Labs and Gnip are the others – that Twitter sells its data to.

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The former’s acquisition by Apple for an estimated $200m was announced earlier today. Topsy, led by British born Oxford graduate Duncan Greatwood, has access to Twitter’s entire data stream and has created a searchable database of 450 billion tweets.

Halstead, now CTO of DataSift, credits his TweetMeme experience for the company’s rise as a major reseller.

“Serving billions of requests per day and filtering the links from Twitter taught us massive amounts that allowed us to build DataSift,” Halstead told last year upon TweetMeme’s closure.

Upon the deal’s completion, Halstead said “our vision has always been about bringing together social data and business data to bring real understanding”. Halstead previously bemoaned European venture capitalists for lacking an understanding of entrepreneurs, after he secured DataSift’s $6m Series A round.

DataSift will pursue growth in key customer segments, including technology companies, enterprises and the agencies keen to gain rapid insights from the petabytes (a quadrillion bytes or 10¹⁵) of data pumped out daily by social media users.

“Social is generating billions of conversations every day and that data is fundamentally transforming the way companies communicate and make strategic decisions,” Rob Bailey, CEO of DataSift said today.

“Social has now moved from mainstream to mission critical for enterprises and we are excited to power the applications in the social ecosystem and accelerate social data adoption.”

The company now operates in 40 countries, serving 1,000 corporate customers, such as Bloomberg, Dell, and Dow Jones. In addition, its technology powers social technology applications, including Growing Business Young Gun Joshua March’s company Conversocial along with Marketwired, HootSuite, Simply Measured and Dachis Group.

CEO of Tech City UK and ambassador for digital industries Joanna Shields said heralded the deal as representative of the momentum the UK’s technology scene is building.

“We are living through an amazing period of technology-driven creativity and innovation,” said Shields, “and the conditions are just right for producing increasing numbers of high-growth businesses like Datasift.”

“Such businesses hold the key to our future prosperity and with the right support from business and government, we can build an unrivalled digital economy.”

Co-founder and managing director of Insight Venture Partners Jeff Horing, who has taken a seat on the board, said he is looking forward to “supporting management as they pioneer new ways of using social media and unstructured data to inform business decisions”.


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