CrunchBase, the database of startups, other tech companies and the people who work in them that was originally developed alongside TechCrunch, is spinning out from AOL/Verizon. Emergence Capital is leading an investment in the newly-independent company, while AOL/Verizon — owner of TechCrunch — will retain a stake in the business.
The independent company will be led by Jager McConnell, who had been the VP of product at Salesforce. Matt Kaufman will remain as head of operations at CrunchBase. The two announced the news on stage this morning at Disrupt, TechCrunch’s big conference in San Francisco, alongside TechCrunch COO Ned Desmond, and Santi Subotovsky of Emergence. (McConnell is pictured above.)
The idea is that the new independence and investment will give CrunchBase a more solid footing to develop its business in enterprise data. The main site today has around 2 million unique visitors per month, and it has grown by about 50 percent year-on-year. Its database of companies and people is around 860,000.
The value of AOL/Verizon’s remaining stake in CrunchBase is not being disclosed, and neither is the exact value of the investment being made by Emergence. From what we have heard, AOL’s stake remains “significant” but Emergence is now the controlling investor. Mark Roszkowski, SVP, head of corporate development at AOL, will serve on the board of the stand-alone company
When we first broke the news that the deal was in the works earlier this month, we noted that Emergence’s investment was in the range of $5 million to $7 million, and sources confirm to us that this is accurate. We also don’t know the current valuation of CrunchBase but we are trying to find out and will update this as we learn more.
Some have speculated that Verizon, which acquired AOL for $4.4 billion earlier this year, would be offloading certain assets that were not core to Verizon’s bigger strategy of building out its mobile, video and OTT services. But from what we understand this deal has been in the works for years.
There is some revenue being made today in areas like advertising but the bigger goal is to grow the company’s B2B business, specifically by way of licenses for its tech database.
CrunchBase originally started as a wiki and continues to get updated by the community, so it will “always have a free tier of use,” according to one source close to the situation.
Emergence Capital is a logical investor for CrunchBase’s future strategy. The VC focuses very much on enterprise services that have a consumer angle to them, as well as companies working in the growing areas of big data and business intelligence. Portfolio companies include Box, Yammer, messaging app Cotap, Inside View and Salesforce.
Video of the announcement below: