The startups were different, but the complaint from founders was always the same: hiring top engineers was the single most difficult and most critical task they faced.
Seeking to build a data-driven venture firm to help founders land top technical talent at the same time, then-General Catalyst partner Chris Farmer began recruiting nearly a dozen engineers to build a data platform.
Six years later that platform, called Beacon, tracks more than half a trillion data points and the firm, SignalFire, has lured early Andreessen Horowitz Partner Yujin Chung and other technology veterans to expand. Also, SignalFire has closed a $53 million first fund and invested in eight startups, VentureWire has learned.
SignalFire is different from average sector seed funds, said Lance Cottrill, a partner with Horsley Bridge Partners. The fund of funds, which is also an LP in venture firms, including Index Ventures, Benchmark and Horowitz, invested in SignalFire’s maiden fund alongside Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and Slack Technologies founder Stewart Butterfield and more than 50 other tech and venture professionals.
“It piqued our interest. This is software eating the venture model,” Mr. Cottrill said.
SignalFire is one of about 200 U.S.-based venture firms that have closed a debut fund of $100 million or less since 2010, according to industry tracker Dow Jones LP Source. These smaller funds typically target specific sectors where partners have expertise, be it in e-commerce or mobile gaming, and aim to make more strategic, calculated bets. In contrast, SignalFire will function as a more generalized technology venture firm, making investments from $500,000 to $1.5 million.
Beacon collects raw data from social networks, financial institutions, regulatory filings and 2 million others sources to produce insights. Mr. Farmer, Mr. Chung and other SignalFire partners monitor those insights and then research sectors where they see talent and capital beginning to pool. Beacon now tracks more than 4 million companies, 8.5 million engineers and billions of anonymized U.S. consumer financial tractions.
To learn more about SignalFire please read the full story in VentureWire.