A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO WHAT MAKES A GREAT VENTURE CAPITAL DATABASE AND HOW CB INSIGHTS IS BUILDING IT
CB Insights is the most complete, real-time and easy to use venture capital database in the industry. We offer a detailed explanation below, but if pressed for time, we've also included a simple summary.
SUMMARY - WHY CB INSIGHTS IS THE BEST VENTURE CAPITAL DATABASE
The most comprehensive and real-time dataCB Insights uses proprietary machine learning software to capture every venture capital deal and exit. Every day, 130,000+ sources are crawled and financing and exit data is extracted from them. In benchmarking against competitors, CB Insights tracks between 40-100% more transaction activity on a consistent basis.
Better user interface & experienceDesign and user experience are fundamental to how CB Insights is built. And so beyond the best data, we focus on providing you with analytical and visualization tools that help customers get to answers they need quicker and faster. These include tools like Industry Analytics or the Business Social Graph as two examples.
Customer serviceWe take our commitment to customers very seriously as we want to ensure you are more successful as a result of having used CB Insights. Our customer reviews consistently highlight the level of service we provide.
Customers ranging from Comcast to Telefonica to Rackspace to Marketo and many others highlight the above facts in their reviews - CB Insights customer love. In addition, we are fortunate to have become a go-to source for hundreds of media outlets who use our data on emerging companies, emerging industries and venture capital on a daily basis - CB Insights press.
Want more detail...read on
The what, who, why, how of the CB Insights venture capital database (Detailed)
A lot of ground is covered below so feel free to skip to any section you want by just clicking on the section heading.
Comprehensive VC dataA good venture capital database tracks every VC firm and does not miss deals
Real-timeIt gets you data first so you're as well-informed as possible at all times when it comes to news that matters to your job
Flexible filtering and screening capabilitiesIt lets you hone in on data you care about with minimal effort
A modern user experience/interfaceThe user experience should make you more productive
Quick development cyclesThe product quickly improves based upon your feedback
Customer service by people building the productYou converse with people at the company who know the product intimately
- All data is validated by researchers
- Revenue data is available at scale
- Valuation data is available at scale
- Who are our customers and what do they have to say about us?
- What media outlets use CB Insights venture capital data?
- What types of customers use CB Insights, and how?
Part 1 - What makes a great venture capital database?
Comprehensive Venture Capital Data
In 1995, if you were a data firm that wanted to build a venture capital database, you had to call venture capital firms up and ask them for what deals they did. That was the only way to do things and so was the right method to employ then. But then came the internet and an absolute explosion of public information. And with this information ubiquity came along sophisticated machine learning and data extraction tools and practices that make that information more usable.
And so the process of having to call venture capital firms for their deal information is not only unnecessary, but it is hopelessly unscalable and antiquated. This is the Encyclopedia Britannica method of information and data gathering – a relic of time gone by.
In contrast to this analog process, CB Insights uses a modern, sophisticated machine-learning driven process to gather its VC data. We crawl over 130,000 information sources daily (ranging from regulatory filings to press releases to investor and corporate websites to social media sources) to programmatically extract structured data elements including company name, investor names, amounts, Board of Director names, etc. Our source classification and entity extraction algorithms are remarkably sophisticated and are constantly improving with feedback loops we’ve built into the software. Of course, machines are not infallible so all the data is reviewed by analysts, but our process is 90% machine-driven.
The benefit of this machine-driven process is that we have the most comprehensive venture capital data of anyone in the business. We guarantee this. The analog process of calling up VCs or having data entry people simply cannot keep up. You just cannot throw enough bodies at the problem of information gathering and still have a cost-effective product. As an example, the explosion of seed venture capital firms or angel investors is something CB Insights has easily kept pace with while the dinosaurs in the venture capital database industry have already fallen behind with no chance of recovery.
Real-Time Venture Capital Data
Part of the job of a venture capital database is ensuring you have data and information on deals and exits quickly so you are well-informed and on top of what is going on in your geographic and industry areas of focus.
If you are manually assembling data on venture capital with the use of quarterly surveys, there is no chance that your data can be current. You’re sitting around waiting for people to return data to you and are subject to their whims.
On a daily basis, we’ll find more financing and exit transactions related to private companies than anyone else. Our machine-learning based technology ensures this.
Comprehensive, real-time data helps our clients looking for leads, dealflow or M&A targets get an edge on their competitors.
Flexible filtering and screening capabilities
The best venture capital data is a necessary condition of being the best VC database, but it is not sufficient. What is required is a smart analytical layer on top of that data or said another way, you need flexible filtering, screening and visualization capabilities to get to answers you want and to get them quickly. Your job is not to sit around messing with a venture capital database all day long. Your job is to get answers to questions like:
- What were all the financings to Silicon Valley in the last week?
- Who are the most active Series A investors in eCommerce companies in NYC?
- What are Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz investing in?
- How do I track every eCommerce deal that happens as it happens?
CB Insights’ search, ranking and Industry Analytics capabilities get you answers in a couple of clicks. No infuriating search interfaces that are inflexible and industry taxonomies that are outdated. Want to search for big data companies or ed tech firms? It’s easy with CB Insights.
A usable interface
Dinosaurs in the industry don’t understand user experience or user interface design because they don’t care. And even if they did, it would take them a few years to figure it out and it would be designed by a committee of cross-functional teams who don’t really understand their customers needs so the result would inevitably be a mess. A maxim popularized by Vogue Magazine seems appropriate here – “a camel is a horse designed by committee.”
Compare us to anyone else. Our UI/UX is 10 to 100x better than anyone else. We have worked in venture capital and corporate development roles before and were forced (and therefore punished) to use the incumbent providers’ offerings. We built CB Insights to solve for those problems.
Quick development cycles
We are a technology-driven organization as you’ve probably gathered. On the surface, that probably doesn’t matter to you. However, it enables us to talk to customers and roll out requested capabilities quickly.
In fact, we deploy new code to production every week. Our team “jokes” that we do more development in a week than all of our competitors do in a year. And by “jokes” we mean it’s true. We’re the most quickly improving VC data product in the market.
Customer service by people building the product
If you’re a customer and have questions or need help, you are going to talk to someone building the product. That means everyone you talk to is familiar with the product and can help you. And even better, they’re people who can influence the direction of the product and so will take your questions and feedback and integrate them into our product roadmap.
If you read the reviews of CB Insights here by our customers here, a common thread is the great customer service we provide. If you purchase a CB Insights subscription, we take that responsibility seriously and want you to be successful in your use of the product.
Part 2 – Lies that other venture capital databases often tell
Researchers validate all our data first
In information services, the term “researcher” for validating data is a euphemism for data entry person. They are not researching anything. They are manually entering data from surveys or some other offline process. Researcher sounds much grander, but manual data entry is subject to errors and issues.
We are the most comprehensive
A lot of VC databases will brag about random metrics in some sad “shock & awe” effort. They’ll make claims like “we track 50,000 VC backed companies” or “we have 133,000 venture capital rounds”, and these are wonderful claims as they
- Sound large
- Are impossible to validate
- And are ultimately meaningless
The goal with these vanity metrics is to impress with what are meaningless stats to give the look of comprehensiveness.
You need to solve problems relevant to you, so if you’re interested in tracking Los Angeles venture capital deals, ask them about their deals for that. Or if you are tracking payments companies, ask for that.
Or just ask them how many financings or exits they tracked in the last week and ask them for that and compare to us. There will be no comparison.
We have revenue data
Any provider says they have this at scale for VC-backed companies is making the revenue data up. Yup – it’s that plain and simple. Or they’re “modeling” it based on some simplistic model, i.e. # of employees multiplied by some average revenue per employee figure they’ve pulled out of thin air.
If they say it is proprietary, run even further. That’s a nice non-answer.
And so there is nobody in the industry with this data at scale and with any accuracy. Yes – we collect some revenue data but want to be upfront and honest that it is limited. The benefit of being private is you can keep these details private.
We have valuation data
Private company revenue and valuation data are the holy grail of data for private companies. Again, anybody who says they have these for VC backed companies at scale (for a majority of them), is either making up data or modeling the valuations.
Private company valuations are another very hard data point to capture. We track these and have found that for private company exits, we can find about 35% with valuations for private companies (real or rumored) and make these available on our private company valuation multiple search tool. For financings of VC-backed companies, the valuation data is available in the 10-20% range.
Nobody has private company valuation data that is comprehensive. Period.
Part 3 – Who uses CB Insights venture capital data today?
We’re trying to build a venture capital database that people love. Yeah, really. Our customers are excited by what we are doing, our customer service and how we help them make money, look good in front of their colleagues and clients and get out of work early. And the media loves our data on venture capital, disruptive innovation and fast-growing emerging industries.
Who are our customers and what do they have to say about us?
Everyone from Comcast to Telefonica to Rackspace to Marketo to NYCEDC to Gartner and a slew of others agree and have publicly commented about our venture capital database. You can see their reviews of CB Insights. We cannot say it better they can so just read what they are saying to get a sense for who they are and what they think of us.
What media outlets use CB Insights venture capital data?
Beyond customers, leading media publications – everyone from the NY Times to TechCrunch to Bloomberg regularly feature CB Insights data. In the first 5 months of 2013, the words “according to CB Insights” have been featured in more than 100 press articles.
What types of customers use CB Insights, and how?
We’re used by an eclectic mix of customers including:
Venture capital firms
find dealflow, build LP presentations, stalk your competitors
build acquirer, investor and company target lists, research comparables, build pitchbooks quickly
Sales and business development professionals
find off-the-radar high growth private companies before others, including direct contact info for their execs
identify breakout private companies and their management teams
Corporate M&A teams
identify M&A dealflow and track activity of your competitors
Innovation / corporate strategy teams
sense which industries and companies within them are hot (or not)
understand the financing and exit growth characteristics of growing industries
Economic development / governments
benchmark against other regions, data-driven cluster development, and recruit companies
enhance entrepreneurship, tech transfer, job search efforts
identify emerging, innovative companies as part of sourcing efforts and track their health to identify the best vendors
Part 4 – What about free venture capital database alternatives?
We are not for everyone. If your information and data needs are infrequent or relatively easily handled by a Google search (I want to find out about a particular company), free resources may be a great solution. In our experience, we are the right solution for users who view data as a competitive asset and who need it to make better decisions, more quickly.
We hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about CB Insights or the above, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 212-292-3148 or find us on IM after logging into CB Insights.