Everyone wants to make smarter decisions, and brands are right up there when trying to figure out a game plan for their next product or service release. But it can be difficult without the right team and infrastructure in place. Civis Analytics seeks to fill this gap and on Wednesday announced a $22 million Series A funding round that will further its mission to make its data science software and methodologies available to everyone.
Led by Drive Capital, the round also includes participation from Verizon Ventures, WPP, and returning investor and Alphabet’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt.
A by-product of President Obama’s successful re-election in 2012, Civis Analytics is working to empower its customers, whether its chief executives, data scientists, marketers, or information technologists, on how to effectively leverage data to become more informed. “Everyone knows that they need to be using data, but most don’t know where to start,” said Civis Analytics CEO Dan Wagner. “Or, if they are using data, they aren’t necessarily asking and answering the right questions.”
Its core product, Civis Platform, provides tools, algorithms, and the data needed around whatever your workflow is and is geared towards transforming companies into data-driven organizations. It’ll curate information from up to eight different databases and 14 different apps, matches the data to give you a 360-degree view, provide insights and predictions on opportunities, and facilitate the creation of customized reports and visualizations. The objective is to help you take action on a strategy.
Clients using Civis Analytics’ services include Airbnb, Boeing, Discovery Communications, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Verizon, Robin Hood Foundation, and the 2020 U.S. Census in partnership with advertising agency Young & Rubicam.
“Based on our experience, organizations face three primary barriers: technology, staffing, and culture. We help organizations overcome those barriers by providing a cloud-based platform with user-friendly applications that can operationalize data science,” according to Wagner. “Additionally, it’s widely known that data scientists are one of the hardest jobs to hire for. With our technology, business analysts are empowered to be more productive and also have access to the science, without necessarily being data scientists.”
The latest round of investment will go towards building up the team at Civis Analytics, as well as strengthening research and development. Wagner shared that following the company’s seed round three years ago, growth has been exceptional, enough so that his firm didn’t need to raise any more funds — it was all powered through its revenues. The 180-degree turn on that choice was done to speed up Civis Analytics’ development, including bringing on more engineers, data scientists, applied data scientists, and enhancing what is believed to be a highly sought-after platform and application.
Wagner also admitted that some of the funding will go to pay for the company’s new Chicago headquarters.
“Bad polling is dangerous for all marketers: It means wasting tens of millions of dollars on ads that don’t work, targeting the wrong people, and making strategic decisions on the basis of noise,” he cautioned.
Investments by Verizon Ventures and WPP are notable because they either represent or are large entities where the impact of data science can be profound. With Verizon Ventures, this information will enable its parent Verizon to better understand what course of action to take not only with its telecommunications services, but also on its growing spectrum of subsidiaries such as AOL, publishing outlets, Yahoo, with online video, and more. And WPP is an advertising holding company which represents some of the world’s top brands, all depending on their agency of records to impart wisdom on how to best get the most bang for their buck.
In addition to the funding, Drive Capital’s cofounder and partner Chris Olsen will now serve on the board of Civis Analytics, joining Schmidt, Wagner, and Tim O’Reilly.
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