Overtone Raises Almost $2.5M to Expand Online Monitoring Business

Overtone, a company that provides Web-based analytics that enables companies to monitor online sentiment about their brand and products, has raised nearly $2.5 million in a venture round that could be worth as much as $5.3 million, according to a recent regulatory filing.

The company, though, defies any simple definition—at least based on a conversation I had late yesterday with Overtone CEO Craig Brennan.

When I called Brennan at Overtone’s San Francisco office to determine whether the company’s headquarters are there or in Carlsbad, CA, as listed in the SEC filing, he told me that Overtone’s headquarters are in both places. He described Overtone as a virtual company—with a CEO who works in San Francisco, while CFO Chris Vohnout works in Carlsbad. Brennan declined to provide the company’s exact headcount for competitive reasons, but said Overtone has about 50 employees throughout its operations.

And when I asked when Overtone was founded, Brennan said the company, which was previously known as Island Data, has gone through three distinct phases in the 14 years since it was created. Its latest reincarnation came after 2004, when Island Data sold much of its assets—including email routing technology it had developed, he says.

Since he joined Overtone in December, Brennan says the company has raised about $8.5 million in venture capital, including the current round, from a number of individual investors and three venture firms—ABS Ventures, Dolphin Equity Partners, and Whelan Capital Management (also known as the Encinal Capital Group.)

Brennan says Overtone’s business is now focused on providing its analytics technology as software-as-a-service for consumer-oriented companies that need to monitor what their customers are saying on social media sites, Internet message boards, and other online venues. Overtone says monitoring unguarded comments can help companies assess how they are viewed by their customers, how well they are managing their brand, identify issues with products and service, and determine how well their advertising works. An animated graphic on Overtone’s website offers some examples of just how important monitoring such sentiment can be, with one quoted comment about TV advertising for a male enhancement product saying, “I would ask that no Extenze commercial ever air again. Creepy and sad.”

Overtone describes its “Open Mic” technology as a “real time natural language processing, analysis, and reporting engine optimized to extract customer intelligence from free-form consumer-generated text.”

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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