Factual, the open database company, closed a $25 million series A financing, led by Andreessen Horowitz and Index Ventures. VCs Ben Horowitz of AH and Danny Rimer of Index will be joining Factual’s board. Ron Conway’s SV Angel and former Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz also invested, as did some of the previous angels who put in about $2 million earlier this year (only half of which was previously disclosed). “The company has very significant aspirations,” says Rimer,” what they are seeking to do is extremely ambitious. We believe they will need a lot of funding.”
Factual started out as sort of a wiki for databases. Anyone can create or add data to Factual, and it has all sorts of APIs to make it easy for Websites and developers to build apps on top of the data. It also lets developers and consumers visualize this big data in all sorts of ways. But over the past few months, the company started to focus on a few key areas, especially local. It is also building datasets around healthcare, education, entertainment, and government.
But its big push right now is in local. It has a places database filled with the names, locations, addresses, phone numbers, and other info on 14 million businesses in the U.S. Geo apps like Booyah rely on this places database for their services. Factual’s biggest potential customer, however, is Facebook. Right now, Facebook Places in Japan and the UK is based at least partially on Factual data. If Factual can grow with Facebook Places, it has a chance to win the bigger business in the U.S. and elsewhere. It probably doesn’t hurt that Marc Andreesen sits on Facebook’s board.
Factual was founded by Gil Elbaz, who earlier co-founded Applied Semantics (that company was bought by Google for $100 million and became AdSense). He wants to build a big data company that creates and maintains valuable datasets that other Websites and developers can then build their apps on top of. Access to the data is very cheap or free at low volumes, but once an app starts to take off, Factual starts to charge data licensing fees based on how much data is used.