SafeGraph’s goal is to help answer humanity’s biggest questions by providing access to the largest ground truth dataset in the world. We predict the past by focusing on veracity and truth. Our belief is at least one iconic company will be built on democratizing access to data … and we aspire to be that company.
SafeGraph’s first product is geospatial data and our goal is to be the most accurate record of truth for understanding physical places. In the next year, our goal is to be the best company for urban planners, retailers, academic researchers, marketers, investors, and many more to understand how people and places relate to each other.
After leaving LiveRamp, I teamed up with Brent Perez to figure out what to do next. Our goal was to (1) build an iconic business that has the potential for $100 billion market cap; (2) work on super hard technical problems that get us excited to come to work every day; (3) work with amazing people that we love being around; and, most importantly (4) do something that truly adds value to society.
To accomplish this, we wanted to team up with the most helpful investors.
We picked Alexander Rosen and Ridge Ventures (formerly named IDG Ventures USA) because of their deep understanding of data, enterprise start-ups, and alignment with our mission. Alex has already proven to be incredibly helpful to SafeGraph with introductions to investors, partners, and recruits, and I would personally recommend Ridge Ventures to other entrepreneurs that have big visions and want supportive partners.
One of the great things about Ridge Ventures is that they understand the power of having lots of brilliant people rooting for the company. Because of this, we were able to bring over 100 additional amazing individuals as investors.
We’re lucky enough to add some of the best minds who are thinking deeply about the future of AI: Peter Thiel (my long-time mentor, friend, and first backer of LiveRamp), Adam D’Angelo (CEO of Quora and fmr CTO of Facebook), Romesh Wadhwani (CEO of Symphony Technology Group), and Bryan Johnson (fmr CEO of Braintree).
Since our #1 goal at SafeGraph is to be truly value-add to society we enlisted the help of people with deep experience in government and academia: Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud (fmr head of Saudi Intelligence); Nicolas Berggruen (Chair of Berggruen Institute); Eric Cantor (fmr U.S. House Majority Leader); acclaimed authors Niall Ferguson and Sam Harris; Meghan O’Sullivan (ran Iraq and Afghanistan policy under George W. Bush); Mona Sutphen (fmr Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama); Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (fmr German Minister of Defense); Kotaro Tamura (fmr Japan Senator); and other amazing folks like Lenny Mendonca, Pierpaolo Barbieri, and Tewodros Ashenafi.
Because our goal is to be the best company in the world at understanding physical places, we wanted great geospatial and real-estate thinkers as SafeGraph backers: Jack Dangermond (CEO of Esri and one of my heroes); Barry Sternlicht (CEO of Starwood); Joseph Meyer (CEO of Observer Media).
Because finance is omnipresent (and Brent and I have little experience in it), we assembled some true innovators in finance: Naval Ravikant (AngelList CEO); Pete Briger (Fortress Chairman); Ash Gupta (President of American Express); Charles Songhurst (fmr Chief Strategy Officer at Microsoft and newest board member of SafeGraph); Chris Farmer at SignalFire — the VC firm that most understands the world of data; and Feroz Dewan, Steve Drobny, Marcelo Hallack, John Pfeffer, Alexander Tamas, Dan Benton, Jonathan Sands, and Elizabeth Weymouth.
The long list includes: Mike Baker (CEO of DataXu); Michael Barrett (CEO of Rubicon); Tim Cadogan (CEO of OpenX); Tom Chavez (CEO of Krux); Mike Derezin (LinkedIn); bruce falck (fmr CEO of Turn); Adam Foroughi (CEO of AppLovin); Raj Gajwani (Google); Rajeev Goel and Amar Goel (founders of Pubmatic); Jonah Goodhart and Aniq Rahman (CEO and President of Moat); Yaz Iida (President at Rakuten USA); Matt Keiser (CEO of LiveIntent); Greg Murtagh (fmr CEO of Triad Retail); Brian O'Kelley (CEO of AppNexus); Kim Reed Perell (CEO of Amobee); Bob Pittman (CEO, iHeartMedia. CEO, Clear Channel Outdoor. Fmr CEO, AOL); donn rappaport (CEO of ALC); David Rodnitzky (CEO of 3Q Digital); Eric Roza and Chris Scoggins (CEO and EVP at Datalogix); Tod Sacerdoti (CEO of BrightRoll); Dipanshu D Sharma and Stephen McCarthy (CEO and CFO of xAd); Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan (CEO of Drawbridge); Omar Tawakol and Grant Ries (founders of BlueKai); Are Traasdahl (CEO of Tapad); Div Turakhia (CEO of Media.net); Joe Zawadzki (CEO of MediaMath).
Jack Abraham; Jonathan Abrams; Adrian Aoun; Arup Banerjee; Ethan Beard; Jean-Jacques Bienaime; Andrew Bursten; Saran Chari; Doug Chertok; Sara Clemens; Matthew Cowan; Matias De Tezanos; Dan Engel; JeffEpstein; Scott Faber; Russell Fradin; David Friedberg; Jared Friedman; Ric Fulop; By Shruti Gandhi; Brad Garlinghouse; George Garrick; Mark Goldstein; Mike Greenfield; Fabrice Grinda; Will Harbin; Joel Hornstein; David Hunt; Brett Hurt; Mark Jacobstein; Tomer Kagan; David Kidder; Jaya Kumar; Ariel Lebowits; Yishai Lerner and Mihir Shah; Paul Levine; Josh Levy; Lee Linden; Patrick McKenna; christopher michel; Allen Nance; Adam Nash; Itamar Novick; Mark Organ; Mark Pincus; Julia Popowitz; MR Rangaswami; Eric Ries; Sumon Sadhu; Ken Sawyer; Evangelos Simoudis; Michael Stoppelman; Bart Swanson; Jonathan Swanson; Greg Tseng; Jose Vargas; Tabreez Verjee; Sam Yagan; and Adam Zeplain
I’m most proud of bringing in current and former LiveRampers — the company I spent over 9 years at as CEO. These are some of the most talented people Brent and I have ever met and we are so blessed to have them as friends.
Almost the entire executive team at LiveRamp invested, including my cofounder (and CTO) Jeremy Lizt; LiveRamp CEO Travis May; COO James Arra; CPO Anneka Gupta; VPs Joel Jewitt, Ari Jacoby, Dan Scudder, David Yaffe. Additionally — all five corporate officers of Acxiom invested: CEO Scott Howe, CFO Warren Jenson, Data President Rick Erwin, EVP Jerry Jones (and I already mentioned LiveRamp CEO Travis May). We also want to thank these incredibly talented current and former LiveRampers for investing: Sean Carr, Eric Chernoff, Ken Dreifach, Bryan Duxbury, Michael Feldman, Abhishek Jain, Andy Johnson; Piotr Kozikowski, Ian Meyers, Bryan Morris, Chris Mullins, Diego Panama, Ben Podgursky, Mike Safai, Armaan Sarkar, Justin Schuster, Manish Shah, Daniel Stevens, Chris Taylor, Michel Tricot, Porter Westling, and Takashi Yonebayashi.
We built an amazing team at LiveRamp, and Brent and I are seeking amazing and talented people to help build SafeGraph. I’m super proud of the team we’ve already attracted. Our engineers are some of most talented big data and machine-learning developers in the world. Our BD people are creative and insatiable. Our product people understand our customers better than they understand themselves.
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.