CB Insights Raises $10M, Expands Private Market Data Capabilities
During the years he led strategic planning and corporate venture investments at American Express, Anand Sanwal says much of the available information about venture funding deals and private company valuations was spotty at best. If he could find an online source for the information he needed, Sanwal says the user interface and user experience “were just not very good.”
So when Sanwal and Jonathan Sherry co-founded CB Insights in early 2008, they saw plenty of room for improvement. Since then, the New York-based firm that provides data, research, and analytics about private companies and markets, has grown organically to more than 60 employees. The company says it is profitable and revenue tripled in 2014, but did not disclose further details.
Now, almost eight years later, CB Insights is announcing its first institutional investment—a $10 million Series A round from RSTP, a San Francisco-based private equity firm that specializes in technology growth investments.
In a statement today, CB Insights says it plans to accelerate the innovation of new software-as-a-service products, expand R&D efforts, and to double its headcount over the next 12 months.
Before now, CB Insights grew entirely from revenue generated by its subscription-based services—with the exception of a $1.15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to advance Mosaic, predictive software that analyzes a wide range of sources to objectively assess the financial health of private companies. When they first started, the firm charged $2,400 a year for online access to its data, and Sanwal says, “it’s climbed fairly materially since then.”
“We kind of built this reservoir of data that was always changing,”and Sanwal says customers were often seeking new ways of extracting data. “People were always coming to us to ask, ‘Can you do this?’
“We started to see all kinds of applications of the data in areas besides venture deals that would be useful for deal makers, investors, and acquirers.”
CB Insights started out by developing what Sanwal calls “really smart software” to search the Internet for unstructured data about venture deals. They began gathering relevant information from office lease agreements, partnership deals, media coverage, and other sources—and came up with more data on venture deals than other information providers. (As Sanwal puts it, “Using data-entry people to call investment firms and ask about their most-recent deals was without a doubt the right way to do it in ’92.”)
Being revenue-funded makes you focus obsessively on your customers, and that has led to new opportunities, Sanwal says.
With new product innovations like Mosaic, Sanwal says CB Insights can grow beyond its original customer base of venture investors, banks, service providers, and corporate M&A groups. He expects it will grow to include corporate business units that specialize in business-to-business (B2B) sales, competitive intelligence, product development, and risk management.
The firm is also rolling out CB Insights for Sales, which enables B2B sales teams to apply predictive analytics technology on data about their customers, products, and services to identify and prioritize their prospective customers.
CB Insights also plans to introduce Ava, an artificial intelligence-driven networking assistant designed to help subscribers find the people who should be in their professional networks.