Q&A with DataSift COO Darren Patterson about sifting the social web and $6 million in new funding

By Editor July 19, 2011


DataSift logo

Reading, UK-based DataSift has built a platform for organizing and analyzing the social web for business intelligence. The company was founded in 2007 and recently closed a $6 million funding round led by IA Ventures and GRP Partners.

SUB: What is the value proposition that DataSift offers?

Patterson: DataSift solves two problems. It allows for the curation of content and business intelligence and data mining. It does this on a pay per use basis, by aggregating and augmenting the social web. This provides economies of scale and access to data which has never been available before.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Patterson: We have related, but not direct, competitors at this stage. Gnip also has a re-syndication contract for Twitter Data, but we don’t believe their business model and product is in the same category as DataSift. We are all about augmenting and filtering data sources, not keywords.

SUB: What differentiates DataSift from your competitors (or from those offering similar services)?

Patterson: We expose the meta data behind all our real time sources and allow our customers to data mine based upon this. This is unique in the market.

SUB: How are you marketing the service?

Patterson: A combination of PR, direct sales and outbound marketing.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind DataSift? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea longer in developing?

Patterson: We built tweetmeme.com and were having to manually curate the content into channels, i.e.: sports, finance etc. and quickly realized we need a filtering tool to allow us to do that. Hence DataSift was born.

SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?

Patterson: Founded in 2007 when we raised angel investment.

SUB: You just closed a $6 million funding round. How do you plan to use the funds?

Patterson: To expand our global sales operations, to continue to innovate on the platform.

SUB: Why was now the right time to raise outside funding?

Patterson: We are about to launch and open the platform which takes resources. We were lucky to secure the types of VCs we did, being based in the U.S. and with a deep understanding of big data and social. So this was a good fit.

SUB: Do you plan to raise more in the near future?

Patterson: No current plans. We are focused on putting the Series A round to good use and to get to break even asap.

SUB: What are some of the challenges of working with giant data/content producers like Twitter?

Patterson: We have had a long relationship for the past four years, so we have grown with them from when they were just 30 people. The market is moving very quickly and there is a lot of pressure to monetize, so this means change. We have been fortunate to have been able to change and adapt and to maintain and be on the inside with Twitter.

SUB: What have the biggest obstacle been so far to building DataSift?

Patterson: It’s a platform, so there is a lot of heavy lifting to do before you even have something to show. So dealing with the amount of data we do in a scalable way meant we have invested heavily in our architecture, and are now getting to the point where we can focus on the customer experience.

SUB: Where do you seen DataSift in about a year from now?

Patterson: At the center of the data processing world, having successfully allowed enterprise customers to open their data silos and expose this to developers and consumers to gather insight.

DataSift – www.datasift.com