Factual Wants to Be Your Place Database in the Cloud

Web data API provider Factual is making a play for the hot geo-local space today. The company, which launched last fall, offers tools for improving data through crowdsourcing and data sets that web and mobile application developers can use. Today it came out with a huge new dataset for geo-coded information like addresses and phone numbers tied to latitude and longitude for 14 million local U.S. businesses and points of interest with additional coverage in the UK, Japan, Italy, Indonesia and Australia. Many people, myself included, have talked about the need for a great place database in the sky, and that’s what Factual is actually offering.

Los Angeles-based Factual doesn’t just offer static information; it combines data from partners, vendors and users, and applies machine learning to extract and validate facts — for instance, to determine what the actual current phone number is for a business. So every time a participating service makes an API call, only the most accurate and current data comes back. “We call it living data,” said Factual CEO Gil Elbaz, the former co-founder of Applied Semantics. “We incentivize companies to not use a forked version, but to use our API so they get the freshest data via algorithms and partners.”

Factual ties into the powerful trend of building better apps by using APIs and federated source. Other than local information, Factual also works in other areas like helping Newsweek crowd-source its school rankings and helping Demand Media’s Livestrong siteĀ index doctors. Factual is backed with $1 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Founder Collective, Miramar Venture Partners and a strong list of individual angels. The company has not yet started charging developers, but when it does, it will set a price per thousand transactions.

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