Boulder Startup Spotlight: Gnip makes sense of the social media firehose

Providing access to social media streams is what Gnip is about.

Making dollars and sense out of the flood of social media traffic has been a bit of a holy grail for many organizations, big and small. Frankly, with public APIs you really cannot even get the full feed from many social networks. But even if you could, how do you drink from this fire hose and make anything of it? Gnip solves that problem.

Like SendGrid, which we discussed yesterday, Gnip may be a company you never heard of, but the scope of its business is staggering. Besides serving household names like IBM, Adobe and Salesforce, Gnip is the world's largest and most trusted provider of social data. It delivers over 4 billion social activities every day and serves customers in 31 different countries, with customers that serve over 95% of the Fortune 500 with data.

Based in Boulder, Gnip has been around since 2008. It offers the full feed of data from Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Disqus, WordPress, Intense Debate, StockTwits, and Estimize. In addition to these premium full feeds it also has public API feeds from many others, including Google+, Facebook, Bitly, Instagram, Flickr, Vimeo and Youtube.

Besides the full data feed, Gnip can also give you selected slices of the feed based upon customer needs and keyword filters. Gnip's original customer base was made up of people who wanted to perform social media monitoring. Recently, customers from the business intelligence space like IBM and Pivotal have been finding gold in the feeds from Gnip.

You may ask why these folks don't get the feed directly from Twitter, et al. The answer is that making that feed available in a useful form is not in the business plan for them. Instead, they have partnered with Gnip to handle that and take a revenue share on the backend from Gnip.

I had a chance to speak with Randy Almond, director of marketing of Gnip yesterday about the company. Randy informed me that the founder and long-term CEO of the company Jud Valeski recently passed the baton to Chris Moody, who is now the CEO with Jud now the CTO. 

According to Almond, the company is poised for its next level of growth as more and more people see the value in social media streams. Gnip is riding the big data trend as well. While now 5 years old, it still had the look and feel of a startup when I visited the office. It currently has about 70 employees.

Adding more social media networks and offering better slices of the data are in the pipeline for Gnip to continue to grow. The company has not raised any money since 2010 and has raised a total of $6.6 million. They seem well on their way and are already a landmark in the Boulder startup scene.

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