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Social Data Platform DataSift Sets Targets On Wall Street; Hires Financial Vets, Opens New York Office

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DataSift, the ‘social data platform’ that provides developers and third parties with the ability to access and interrogate Twitter, Facebook and other real-time social sources, is doubling down on its Wall Street play today. The company is announcing the hiring of two financial veterans, along with the opening of a Madison Avenue, New York office. It’s been pitching its wares as a way for fund managers to get the upper hand for a quite a while now, so this latest move shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Robert Passarella, previously of Dow Jones, has been appointed as DataSift’s Managing Director of Finance where he’ll lead the company’s financial industry initiatives and build on its existing financial product offerings. Paul Balser, who joins from StockTwits, is taking up the role of DataSift’s new Managing Director of Financial Institutions Sales, and will be responsible for the company’s institutional relationships.

Working out of the company’s new New York office, both will be charged with building on DataSift’s “robust real-time and Historics social data platform” which is said to help fund managers make faster trading decisions based on shifts in public sentiment towards companies, stocks and news.

A Wall Street veteran, while at Dow Jones Passarella was previously vice president and managing director for the institutional markets business where he was responsible for Machine Readable News, Sales and Trading products, Venture Source and DJ FX Trader — Dow Jones’ first desktop product for the foreign exchange trading marketplace. In other words, he brings experience of managing products that bridge the gap between technology and financial news.

Equally experienced, Balser was previously Vice President of Business Development and Head of Sales at StockTwits. Prior to StockTwits, he held senior positions in institutional equity sales for Alex Brown & Sons, Lazard Freres, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Cowen.

Wall Street has long been driven by sentiment, and so mining social data as another data point certainly makes sense. But there’s a lot of data to mine, which is of course where DataSift’s pitch comes into focus. There’s an estimated 400 million tweets a day, for example.

To that end, DataSift claims to aggregate billions of social interactions from “more than a million public social data sources”, which as we’ve already noted includes Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, forums and online message boards. It recently integrated with NewsCred, so that its data mining can go beyond the real-time and social platforms to also include news articles, which is said to give traders and fund managers an insight into how financial news spreads through the social web.

DataSift, which now has offices in the UK, San Francisco, and New York, raised a hefty $7.2 million in a follow-on Series A round from existing investors GRP Partners and IA Ventures in May. This brought DataSift’s total funding to $15 million.