I’m pleased to announce that K9 Ventures’ portfolio company BackType (@BackType) has been acquired by Twitter. Huge congratulations to the founding team of Christopher Golda (@golda) and Michael Montano (@michaelmontano)!
I was first introduced to Christopher Golda at BackType in 2009 (Thanks @fbishara) as a “highly technical team” — something I look for. At the time BackType was focused on organizing comments and tweets about content. It was an interesting problem, but not one that made for an interesting business opportunity yet. I was re-introduced to the BackType team in 2010, this time by Sachin Agarwal (@a4agarwal) from Posterous. (I’ve been a fan of what Posterous has built and like Sachin’s approach. In fact, I use Posterous for a couple of personal and work related sites). The BackType team, comprised of Christopher, Mike and Nathan Marz (@nathanmarz) had already developed a reputation for being one of the smartest “big data” guys out there.
It should also be noted that BackType is yet another example of a company founded by immigrant entrepreneurs. Christopher and Mike are both Canadian and graduated from the University of Toronto. They came to the United States for Y Combinator and fortunately were smart enough to get O-1 visas to be able to stay and build their company here in the US. The BackType founders would have been perfect candidates for the Startup Visa — and are yet another testament to why we need such a program in the US.
By 2010 BackType had morphed into a company that was starting to provide “social media metrics.” BackType would receive the entire Twitter firehose, the public Facebook firehose, data from Reddit, from crawling blogs, and various other sources and then use their sophisticated big data processing techniques to perform analysis on this data. They would provide measurement and metrics around the impact of social media efforts. It was clear that social media was to be a major marketing channel. Companies and brands would be (and now are) funneling a lot of dollars into this channel. However, it was (and is) unclear to them as to what the impact that marketing spend was making. That’s where BackType stepped in. To help companies and brands to figure out the impact and the ROI of their social media marketing dollars.
There are a lot of companies that claim to do this. However, there is a big difference in what these companies can claim or profess to do, vs. what they can actually deliver. That difference comes from the core technology that is used and the amount of data they can handle. It is very simple, almost trivial to be able to track a handful of accounts, but to be able to get a reasonably comprehensive view of what is happening across the web and various social media networks requires the ability to gather and process large amounts of data — and that’s what the BackType team did well.
Few people are aware of this, but BackType had already built an interesting (and revenue generating) API business. Their API helped power features for bit.ly, Chartbeat, HubSpot, The Huffington Post, Radian6 and over 100 other partners. BackType’s BackTweets product focused on providing brands with metrics around their social media activity on Twitter.
The BackType team developed several core new technologies to help them in processing this large amount of data including Cascalog (GitHub), ElephantDB (GitHub) and Storm (link). Their contribution to the big data community in this regard is not to be under-estimated.
K9 Ventures invested in the Seed round for BackType in August 2010 along with Toni Schneider from True Ventures (lead), Josh Felser and Dave Samuel from FreeStyle Capital, Chris Sacca from lowercase capital, Dave McClure from 500 Startups, Raymond Tonsing, and others (full list).
The BackType team (currently 4 people) is a great example of a highly technical team that built core-technologies to help solve a real problem. They had multiple acquisition offers from top companies and chose to go with Twitter because of the excellent fit for the product, the technology, and the culture of the team. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Chris and Mike and I’m very pleased to see their talent and their product be recognized in this acquisition by Twitter.
Congrats Team BackType!