“Data marketplace” Infochimps raises $1.2M to build out its data offerings

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dataInfochimps, an Austin-based marketplace for lists and other data sets, has raised $1.2 million in its first round of institutional funding.

The idea of a “data marketplace” sounds a bit abstract, so Infochimps chief executive Nick Ducoff gave me a few examples of what users are doing with the data. The company’s focus has been on gathering social media and Web analytics, as well as government data. A Web developer could use Twitter data to improve the social experience for their users. A burrito restaurant planning a marketing campaign might use data about customers who “checked in” on various location services as a source of leads. And the Austin city government uses Infochimps to make data available to its citizens.

For now, Ducoff said, the company is not focused on making money, so it plans to spend the funding on gathering more data (both by hiring more engineers to grow its data scraping tools, and by buying more data sets ) and on improving the user experience. More than 500 developers reportedly access Infochimps data using its application programming interface, and the company’s top 20 data sets have been downloaded more than 30,000 times.

Infochimps demonstrated last fall at the DEMO conference co-produced by VentureBeat. The new funding comes from Houston-based DFJ Mercury. Infochimps has now raised $1.6 million.