In the TV action drama Person of Interest, one of the main characters designs a sophisticated data analysis computer system that uses feeds from sources like traffic cams and credit card processing terminals to spit out always-accurate predictions around tragic events, including murders and terrorist situations. It’s a bit far-fetched, but at its core is the very real practice of predictive analytics. Cambridge, MA-based startup Recorded Future, a company in the prediction analysis game, today announced $12 million in Series C funding, which will help it bring on more engineering talent to bring its platform even closer to sci-fi made real, and get the word out that its technology is available to virtually anyone.
Since its founding in 2009, Recorded Future has already managed to rack up a notable client base, which includes government intelligence agencies and defense organizations, all while operating relatively under the radar. Since its platform, which culls information from countless sources across the web, can answer questions like “Where will there be protests in the future?” and “Where are military maneuvers occurring?” on a global scale, interest from those corners is understandable. But Recorded Future also wants to make predictive analytics available to corporate and other customers, which is why it offers access beginning at $150 per month on a SaaS basis.
Recorded Future CEO and co-founder Christopher Ahlberg told BetaKit in an interview that the company is excited both about its potential to reach more customers in the world of defense and intelligence, and to connect with the larger business community, too.
“We’ve had great initial success in taking our product to large government agencies, so we’re going to expand that and grow more aggressively there,” he said. He also pointed out that the same kind of info can in many cases be used to make sound business decisions about where to invest. “[We're also interested in] somebody who’s going to go drill for oil somewhere, or someone who’s going to do something as simple as open a retail store somewhere,” Ahlberg said.
In addition to reaching new markets, Ahlberg said that Recorded Future will be looking to grow its engineering team, and “do a whole bunch of really cool things with our product,” and “turn up the volume” in terms of marketing, since he said the company has been fairly quiet on that front so far.
Asked about whether he’s concerned with any risks associated with potential liability, being in the business of predicting the future, Ahlberg said that while there are obviously going to be potential problems with this type of offering, Recorded Future is confident it’s upfront about what it provides. And what it provides precisely isn’t the type of rock solid futurecasting dramatized in Person of Interest or Minority Report.
“We do say that we’re not a financial advisor on the site,” he pointed out. “[Also,] our software is used not to provide black box answers, we wish life was that simple. It’s more about helping an analyst understand and organize the world so that they can make clever decisions.”
A lot of companies are dabbling in predictive analytics, including social media marketing firms like DataSift, accounting startups and financial modelling companies, but Recorded Future’s approach is interesting because of its focus not just on measurable data, but on editorial and other types of content that can help predict political and social changes on the ground. The company clearly has big plans, and this round should help, but the fact that it’s already proven itself useful to some seriously heavyweight government agencies might be the strongest proof that it’s on to something.