Machine learning data management startup SafeGraph raises $16M

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San Francisco-based machine learning data management startup SafeGraph Inc. has raised a $16 million funding round led by IDG Ventures USA that included more than 100 high-profile individual investors.

Among the investors in the unusual Series A round are Peter Thiel, Adam D’Angelo, Romesh Wadhwani, Eric Cantor, KT zu Guttenberg, Prince Turki Al Saud, Jack Dangermond, Barry Sternlicht, Pete Briger, Naval Ravikant and Nicolas Berggruen.

Founded in 2016, SafeGraph builds and maintain data sets that can be used to accelerate machine learning and artificial intelligence. The company aims to help answer questions by providing access to a large dataset that predicts the past to figure out what to do in future. Its first product, a geospatial data platform, is intended to empower urban planners, retailers, academic researchers, marketers and investors with access to an accurate record for understanding human movement.

SafeGraph has yet to disclose whom its initial partners or clients are, but Chief Executive Officer Auren Hoffman told AdExchanger that the company’s business development plans include advertising and marketing use.

In a post on Medium, Hoffman went further, describing the Series A round as “an unconventional fundraising for an unconventional company.” He added, “Most companies don’t raise $16 million for the first round of financing. And pretty much no company does it by bringing on over 100 individual investors in addition to a top tier VC. But we’re not a conventional company.”

Having over 100 individual investors in an opening round for a company is indeed unique, and potentially a nightmare from a management perspective. But Hoffman justifies bringing on board all those investors, many of whom come from the advertising industry or worked at his last company, LiveRamp Inc., as giving the company a pool of knowledge it can call upon for advice.

Photo: SafeGraph