Big data VC firm Data Collective steps out of the shadows

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For almost two years, Data Collective has been lurking in Silicon Valley’s shadows, investing seed money in a slew of big data and cloud computing startups without ever showing its face to the public. On Thursday, the firm officially launched with a unique partnership model and an investment portfolio that should make any dataphile drool.

Organizationally, the firm has created a crowdsourced (or, if you will, parallel-processing) platform of sorts. There are two managing partners — veteran investors Zack Bogue and Matt Ocko — two other co-founders — Prismatic Founder and CEO Bradford Cross, and Metamarkets (see disclosure) Founder and CEO Mike Driscoll — and then about 35 equity partners presently employed with experience everywhere “from Akamai to Zynga.”

The equity partners actually share in the firm’s profits, but it’s not as if they’re involved in name only. According to Ocko, most have decades “in the trenches” building companies and big data infrastructure. They use that experience to help the firm identify the right companies and then help those companies grow during their early phases when Data Collective is most involved. If one has to drop off an investment for some reason, another will step into his or her place.

Data Collective has been working off a fund of around (but less than) $10 million and has alread made some very impressive investments — among its 46 portfolio companies are Kaggle, MemSQL, Continuuity, Parse, Keen.io, Meteor, MongoHQ, Citus Data, Apcera, Cloudability and Piston Cloud (see disclosure). Bogue characterizes the firm as a “source of hot companies [for larger VF firms]” that don’t usually get involved deep down in the technology while companies are still taking shape.

The firm is working on closing a much larger fund, although Ocko said it will still stick with seed- and first-round investments where he and Bogue have a track record of success. Either individually or as a pair, the two have previously made seed investments in XenSource, Cotendo, MetaWeb, FlashSoft and Square, among others. Ocko and Bogue think their investing savvy, along with their co-founders’ and equity partners’ deep entrepreneurial and technological experience in big data, will help Data Collective become an important part of the tech-investing scene.

“Along the way, [Bogue and I have] produced about 40 material exits for entrepreneurs and investors,” Ocko said. “We’re not claiming to be John Doerr or Mike Mortiz, but we have some reasonable idea what we’re doing.”

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user ARTSILENSEcom.

Disclosure: Piston and Metamarkets are backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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