If you co-founded the company that became Google AdSense, as Gil Elbaz did with Applied Semantics, you don’t have any problem finding investors when you want to start a new venture. Elbaz sold Applied Semantics to Google for $100 million in 2003, and launched his latest startup, Factual, last October. He doesn’t really need the money, but so many all-star investors were clamoring to get in that he raised just over $1 million in an angel round.
His angel investors include Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz via their Andreessen Horowitz fund, Bill Gross via Idealab, Esther Dyson, Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt, Danny Rimer of Index Ventures, former MySQL CEO Mårten Mickos, as well as New York City seed fund the Founder Collective.
Factual is setting out to get people to create as many open databases as possible by providing tools for creating table son any topic, embedding them and sharing them. There are already hundreds fo thousands of tables on Factual, dome large some small. For instance, Creative Commons created a database filled with Websites using Creative Commons licenses that contains 4 million rows. All the data in Factual is editable in a wiki-like fashion and is available through Factual APIs.
Chris Dixon, founding partner of Founder Collective (and CEO of Hunch) says they invested because of Factual’s “huge ambition.” In order for the Web to become programmable, it needs data and lots of it. “I think of it as Wikipedia for structured database-like information,” says Dixon. It joins many other efforts pursuing similar ambitions, include Freebase, Wolfram Alpha, and even Google.