Nick Halstead, Founder Of Big Data Analytics Firm DataSift, Steps Down As CEO

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With Never Eat Alone, Never Eat Alone

Another big change for DataSift — the UK startup that applies analytics to social network data firehoses to surface trends, which had a notable break up with Twitter earlier this year. Nick Halstead, who founded the company in 2010, is stepping down as CEO. Halstead will be replaced by Tim Barker, DataSift’s chief product officer.

In a blog post announcing the move, Halstead writes that he made the decision “after much deliberation” that ended with a decision to go back to building early-stage tech companies.

Specifically, he says he is now working on a startup called Cognitive Logic. As you can see if you go to that link, the startup is still in stealth mode. There is no information in Halstead’s blog post or the site about what Cognitive Logic does. (We’ve contacted Halstead to see if he will tell us more.)

But as Halstead notes with some British understatement, “It has been quite a year” for DataSift, and so for some it may be unsurprising to see him step down.

DataSift originally built its reputation around being one of the only companies to have access to Twitter’s firehose — the full stream of Tweets and other metadata that are generated on the social network — and it works with a number of third parties to parse that data, or directly with large enterprises who take the data and chop and dice it directly. But then it found itself in the firing line of Twitter’s decision to take more of its big data business into its own hands in April of this year. Nick Halstead was very much at the front of the ranks, penning a public statement and speaking out against Twitter’s moves.

At the same time, Halstead and DataSift were taking matters into their own hands, too. Perhaps suspecting that Twitter would eventually look to build a more direct business on its own data, DataSift diversified into working with more social networks like Tumblr, and perhaps most notably Facebook.

(And indeed, taking more control of its firehose is exactly what Twitter did after buying Gnip in 2014. In April, it announced it would not renew its firehose deal with DataSift. And then, just this week, Twitter unveiled a number of new initiatives involving the Gnip team, with Gnip Insights APIs and a new customer care product.)

Ironically, given that Twitter is now trying to play nice, or at least nicer, with developers once again, it will be interesting to see if there is any repair to be made in the DataSift rift. Whatever it is, Halstead won’t be the one who has to broker it, although he will stay on for advice as chairman emeritus.

DataSift has raised just under $78 million from investors that include Insight Venture Partners, Scale Venture Partners, and many more.

Featured Image: Loic LeMeur/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE