Intel Capital has led a Series B funding round in Sense Networks, a NY-based developer of nifty machine-learning technology that allows for digital indexing and ranking of real world locations based on movement data. According to Venturebeat, which broke the news before the weekend, the amount invested was about $6 million in a ‘hotly contested deal’ that left Sequoia pulling the short straw.
Having recently witnessed a panel discussion at the Mobile 2.0 Europe conference on ‘Context’, which Sense Networks CEO Greg Skibiski was a part of, I’d wager it’s a smart investment. The startup has developed Macrosense, a so-called ‘location analytics platform’ specifically designed to mine mobile location data for advanced user segmentation, and it also markets a really great free mobile app for BlackBerry and the iPhone platform called Citysense that enables ‘real-time nightlife discovery and social navigation’. In essence, the latter app helps consumers find popular nightlife spots using large amounts of real-time location data in aggregate.
From Erick’s review when the company first emerged out of stealth mode:
“The company ingests billions of data points about people’s location from cell phones, GPS devices, WiFi, and even taxis. The company also collects geo-location data from everyone who downloads Citysense, or any future app (although, the company considers the data to be yours, and you can delete it from the database at any time).
Using machine-learning algorithms, it then indexes all of this location data and ranks places in the real world much like a search engine ranks Websites. But instead of looking at Web links, it looks at how much data (i.e., people) are moving between locations. The company makes money by selling this data in the aggregate to professional investors and financial institutions, who are keen to find out things like where people are shopping.”
Sense Networks was founded by MIT computer scientist Alex Pentland and Columbia computer scientist Tony Jebara back in May, 2003. The company was only incorporated in 2006, though, and it went on to raise a Series A round from a number of angel investors and hedge funds like Passport Capital, Drobny Global Asset Management and the Challenge Funds in April 2008. The amount was not disclosed, but VentureWire reported that it was $3 million, which means total funding for the company now stands at about $9 million.