DataSift Raises $7.2M to Help It Meet Social Media Analytics Demand

Social media monitoring and analytics firm DataSift announced a $7.2 million follow-on to its Series A funding today, which will help the company deal with demand. A lot of that demand is likely due to the company’s data feed partnership with Twitter, which now extends to historic tweets as of a deal struck back in March 2012. DataSift has signed up around 200 corporate customers since its launch five months ago, and CEO Rob Bailey told BetaKit that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of market demand for what the company has to offer.

“The reality is that even though there’s 200 or 300 social media monitoring companies out there, when I tweet something out to a brand more often than not it’s still the case that no one responds,” he said. “Social media is providing a radical revolution in how companies communicate with their customers and with the press. In the past, if someone had a bad dinner or bad hotel stay, they’d go out and tell ten people. Now they’ll tweet to 10,000 instead.”

As a result of the huge untapped opportunity he believes that represents, Bailey says that companies in the space aren’t necessarily focused on competition, but on how they can help one another with their various different approaches to solve client problems. It’s a sentiment SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin echoed in an earlier interview with BetaKit, when discussing competitors in social media monitoring and search engine optimization. Bailey even commented that he intends to reach out to SEOmoz in order to see how the two companies might be able to work together.

But as much as strategic partnerships will be something DataSift continues to look for, part of the funding announced today will go towards building out its business development and support teams, Bailey said.

“We’re going to be scaling up a lot in sales and customer service, just because we’ve been flooded by inbound requests from customers,” he said. “A lot of our customers will initially sign up for pay-as-you go, and then once they’ve done their proof of concept they’ll sign a monthly recurring subscription with us. Still, we think we could do a lot better in terms of conversion rates, and we want to hire a lot of great user experience engineers.”

In terms of its product, Bailey said that DataSift is well-prepared to handle the massive amounts of data that come through its system, and have anticipated significant growth in terms of the volume of tweets and other pieces of information that it processes. That means it’ll have little to do in terms of infrastructure growth, and instead can use this funding to focus on new product launches.

“We spent a lot of time building out our infrastructure, to the point where we probably have one of the largest Hadoop clusters in Europe right now,” he said. “Mapping all our data sources together requires a massive infrastructure that’s very hard to even architect, and build. We spent the past few years building it, and it works. We’ve built the castle, and right now, to mix metaphors, because of how we’ve built the infrastructure we’re able to layer products on top of it very easily.”

Bailey said DataSift plans to launch “a lot” of new products in the near future, but wouldn’t give any specifics, though he did reveal general plans. “Our main core group of customers are social media monitoring and business intelligence companies, so I see us doing more platform tools to make it easier for them to serve customers,” he told BetaKit.

The full effect of a social layer that provides customers direct access to not only talk about, but also directly to brands is something that companies have been slow to embrace. But as they realize the importance of covering all their social bases, companies like DataSift will be the ones at the forefront of meeting their resulting demand.

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