Factual is the latest to join Semantifi and others in the chorus that the “Future of the Web is Data”. Founded by Gil Elbaz of the successful Applied Semantics and with many prominent investors including Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, Esther Dyson, Bill Gross, Marten Mickos, Scott Kurnit, and others, it as a clear validation of the market and that “the market is here“.
Socrata is the other startup before Factual. Both Socrata and Factual are quite similar in concept and both lack the technology to search datasets like Semantifi. Therefore, they allow users to browse data, primarily tabular data, page-by-page. While this is a lot of fun for simple and short datasets, the approach can be limiting for larger datasets.
Here is the complete article from VentureWire.
Google Vet Grabs $1M Seed For Open-Source Data Co. Factual
By Tomio Geron 2/5/2010
Gil Elbaz is a serial entrepreneur who is closely watched because of his last success.
He co-founded Applied Semantics, which was acquired by Google for about $100 million in April 2003 and later became the technology behind Google Adsense. Elbaz joined Google with the acquisition and then left in 2007.
Now he has founded Factual Inc., an open-source data technology company.
The company has raised about $1 million in angel financing from prominent investors including Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz through their firm Andreessen Horowitz, Founder Collective and Miramar Venture Partners and individual investors Esther Dyson, Bill Gross, founder of Idealab; Danny Rimer, a partner at Index Ventures; Marten Mickos, former chief executive of MySQL; Richard Rosenblatt, CEO of Demand Media; Scott Kurnit, founder of About.com; Thomas Lehrman, founder of Gerson Lehrman Group; and Tom Unterman, founder of Rustic Canyon Ventures. Valuation was not disclosed.
Factual is developing an open-source version of data sources for developers to tap into. For example, if a company has an application that uses restaurant information, it can connect to Factual’s application programming interface and access that data, rather than having to build that data itself or crowdsource it or license it from someone else.
In return, developers and their users would add or fix data in Factual’s databases. Currently Factual is offering this data free, but eventually could charge for parts of it.
“I saw the concept of open data and thought it was going to be extremely important and maybe change the landscape significantly,” Elbaz said. “Developers often have an idea for Web sites or iPhone apps but often they’re data-driven and require access to some form of data aggregation.”
Elbaz cited as an example, an iPhone developer who wants to create a pizza restaurant search. Rather than different developers creating separate databases for this information they could tap into Factual. This allows developers to focus on what they do best–creating great applications.
“The question developers have to ask is do you want data to be something completely proprietary or to share in the benefits of the wider community to curate and clean crowdsourced data?” he said. “Like open-source software, it doesn’t make sense for everyone to start from scratch and maintain their own version if the community already can share in the collective efforts to build something that can be used by everyone.”
Factual already has a partnership with Demand Media’s Livestrong Web site to provide data on physicians and hopes to expand to other categories.
The service is different from Wikipedia, in that Factual enables people to select any fact and drill down to see all the comments users from different sources have made on that particular fact.
Another start-up that is probably more similar is Metaweb Technologies Inc., backed by at least $57.5 million from Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Goldman Sachs & Co., Millennium Technology Ventures and Omidyar Network. However, Metaweb’s Freebase service generally gathers data from end-users directly, while Factual is focusing on developers to gather and use its data.