Data-Gathering Startup Premise Raises $50 Million, Led by Valor

  • Series C funding adds to $16.5 million previously raised
  • Gates Foundation, World Bank among organizations using data

Premise, a startup that gathers global economic data, raised $50 million in a funding round led by Valor Equity Partners.

The San Francisco-based company, whose board includes former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, works with organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and Standard Chartered Bank to gather economic information in the developing world. The company expects to end 2015 with annual recurring revenue of more than $10 million.

The 40-person company plans to use the money to expand its engineering team, boost marketing and increase its capacity to collect data. Premise, which declined to disclose its valuation, had previously raised $16.5 million from the Social+Capital Partnership, Google Ventures and other investors.

The company pays people in countries such as the Philippines and Nigeria to collect information on everything from cigarette prices to personal preferences about hygiene. Premise is betting that it can efficiently gather such statistics around the world through this network of people -- currently at more than 25,000 -- who are paid to tap their findings into smartphones, creating a data set that will become more valuable as it grows.

“They’ve got very innovative and new approaches that are consistent with the modern world of decentralized data-gathering techniques,” Summers said in an interview. “They have got a serious chance of becoming a large scale Internet-age company.”

The company was founded in 2012 to create a private-sector source for macroeconomic data. Premise works for foundations, governments, large global companies and investors. Tesla Motors Inc. board member Antonio Gracias, Chief Executive Officer of Valor Equity Partners, joined the company’s board as part of the new investment round.

“We’re focused by and large on the international development,” said David Soloff, the company’s chief executive officer, who is also a former venture capitalist and data scientist. “We maintain ownership of the underlying data.”

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