Factual announced yesterday that it has secured $25 million in financing, led by Andreessen Horowitz and Index Ventures. Factual was founded in 2007 by Gil Elbaz, whose last company Applied Semantics was acquired by Google in 2003, becoming one of the core components of AdSense. Investor Ben Horowitz describes Factual as "a key player in the emerging data-as-a-service market, with the potential to fundamentally impact how people and businesses use data to make decisions."The open database service
Factual is an open platform for developers and publishers to build apps with its data, accessible via its APIs. Factual hosts hundreds of thousands of datasets across multiple categories, but it's recently turned its focus to building out its local data repository. In September, the company launched local datasets for more than 14 million businesses, and Factual also signed partnership deals with a number of companies to deliver local data, including Booyah and Facebook Places.
Elbaz says that "with the new funding and support of our superstar team of investors, we can become a driving force in the open data revolution that's transforming the web (and the world) as we know it." Indeed, big data has been an important trend this year, with many startups like Factual leading the charge. That notion was echoed in a blog post by investor Mark Suster today who called the sort of data-as-a-service that Factual offers as "the next major layer of the cloud, a major victory for startups."
Data as the Next Layer of the Cloud
Suster argues that as we have built out the cloud stack - storage, processing, and management - a gap has grown between that infrastructure and business logic. Suster says that data is necessary to bridge that gap. Although companies have long had to build their own databases and amass their own datasets, now it is possible to do build products with the assistance of startups like Factual that offer data-as-a-service.
"What really excites me," writes Suster, "and what is such a win for startups in the potential to massively speed up innovation and make it cheaper. What if every YCombinator and TechStars company had access to the Factual dataset and when they created their concepts it was with a large corpus of data? What if we could publish large pools of drug data and allow hackers to create databases of drug interactions that reduce problems with prescriptions. Imagine if you could have developers building financial services apps that created more transparency of trades. I predict that data over time will become the next major layer of the Internet supporting both consumer and business applications."