Picking the Right Investor

Rob Bailey
14th November 2012 1 Comment

During the past few days I’ve received lots of great emails, Facebook messages and DMs congratulating our team for closing the most recent round of funding. I believe that congratulating a company for raising a round is like congratulating a chef for coming back from the supermarket with groceries. Funding is not winning. It’s more gas in the tank to take the company further. So, rather than celebrate, we’re using this as an opportunity for reflection – what’s worked, what we’ve learned and the road ahead. Our lead investors have been one of the most important reasons for our success, so I’d like to focus on them first.

Our Current Lead Investors (GRP Partners & IA Ventures) Helped Set Us Up For Success

The past year has been one of explosive growth for DataSift.  Since our launch a year ago, we’ve built a base of almost 300 corporate customers from a wide variety of sectors. Looking back to that time last November when our US operations was still based in a closet-sized office at Founder’s Den in San Francisco, we have expanded so quickly—from Twitter to other Social data to our recent entry into news sources—and we have discovered that the platform developed by Nick Halstead and our engineering team has a much wider range of uses than we could have imagined.

Our principal investors, GRP Partners and IA Ventures, have been crucial to this success and an integral part of our executive team, working extensively over the last year to help get us to this point.  It was actually Mark Suster of GRP Partners who, a year and a half ago, first inspired me to join DataSift.  Mark and Roger Ehrenberg of IA Ventures  have been instrumental in helping us build our executive team, our strategic relationships with content partners like Twitter and develop marketing strategy. I can’t count the number of times Mark and Roger have made themselves available for late night phone calls and weekend IM sessions to help us answer tough questions, provide wise advice, and act as sounding board for our more difficult decisions. Mark and Roger both have extensive experience building companies and it shows in the quality advice we get from them.

Why We Picked Scale Venture Partners To Join The Team

GRP Partners & IA Ventures set a very high bar for what we should expect from investors in our company. Fortunately, the combination of strong growth and our position at the confluence of several hot industry trends—rising use of Social in the enterprise, continued adoption of SaaS, the corporate migration to Cloud Computing—meant that we had our pick of many different, high-quality investors.

This in turn enabled us to proactively pick the fund which we thought would be the best partner for the next phase of growth.  Scale Venture Partners has the perfect combination of proven experience in SaaS, with companies like ExactTarget, Vitrue and HubSpot, and their partners (particularly Rory O’Driscoll) are the type of investors that I like to call ‘lean forward’ investors—VCs that are actively involved in helping their portfolio companies grow.

From our first meeting with Scale Venture Partners, we were incredibly impressed with the high quality of discussion around the key issues we were facing in growing the business and the level of detail they went into.  We were particularly impressed with how one of their partners, Andy Vitus, spent weeks digging deep into our platform and understanding both our current product and where we were going.  He came back to us with very helpful recommendations for improvements, several of which we added to our product backlog for future sprints.

This has been an amazing year and we are looking forward to what’s ahead. Thanks again to our customers, our team and our investors. We’re back from the supermarket and ready to start cooking. The best is yet to come.


Rob Bailey

Rob Bailey

Written by Rob Bailey

Rob Bailey is the CEO of DataSift.

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