Deals

Pay attention to those tweets, people: Attensity raises $90M in equity financing

Image Credit: Paul Townsend/Flickr

It’s one thing to watch tweets and Facebook posts come in on the fly. Filtering out the meaningless messages and spotting the important stuff at scale is completely different. And that’s why companies have been tuning in to tools like Attensity.

A seller of software that helps businesses grasp what people refer to and imply on social networks and in other bodies of text, has raised $90 million in equity financing.

The deal signifies the value of analysis of new forms of text.

Indeed, unstructured data sources like tweets are increasingly essential for business. Twitter recognizes that, and a few weeks ago Twitter announced it would buy Gnip, a company that provides full access to the entire corpus of data coming from Twitter in addition to other social networks.

But tweets and other feeds need to be analyzed, and that’s where Attensity can be useful.

Attensity’s technology relies on natural-language processing, a method of analyzing regular people’s text to extract meaning. Within text, it can spot people, places, and concepts. Its software can file through messages from lots of social networks, as well as other kinds of text, like discussion boards and news articles, and then provide data and visualizations.

Attensity also sells software for tracking issues that arise on social networks and the back-and-forth conversations with the people responsible for bringing up those issues.

Competitors include Radian6, which Salesforce.com bought in 2011.

An international private equity fund and a financial advisor company contributed to the new equity round. Attensity declined to identify those groups.

Attensity started in 2000. It picked up social media monitoring capabilities in 2010 through its Biz360 acquisition. Customers include Charles Schwab, Cisco, eBay, JetBlue, Microsoft, Nike, PayPal, and Safeway.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., the company has 150 employees. And that number will grow.

“We plan to use the funds in numerous ways, such as with growing our staffing and engineering and expanding our marketing and sales initiatives,” chief executive Howard Lau wrote in a canned statement. “What we’re really doing here is investing it all back into company so that we grow and scale what we continue to believe is a large, rich opportunity for us.”

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