Sapphire Ventures Opens Doors with – and for – Open Data Leader Socrata

December 2, 2014 3:00 am PST | Data as a Service

[Editor’s Note: This post was written by Jai Das, Managing Director of Sapphire Ventures, and first appeared on Sapphire Ventures’ blog.]

One of the most enduring ideas to emerge from our recent CEO Summit was that the future will belong to companies that tackle big challenges with a sense of purpose and go on to make a big impact.

Few companies fit this description better than Socrata, whose open data platform and suite of apps enable governments to be more open and transparent and give citizens greater access to public information like budgets, licensing and permitting functions, performance metrics and other datasets. Today, we are therefore excited to announce that Sapphire Ventures has led the company’s latest Series C financing round.

Socrata is tackling one of society’s biggest problems: how to encourage citizen participation in government—from the local to state to federal levels—and how to make governments more transparent and data-driven. With the help of their open data solutions, Socrata’s CEO Kevin Merritt and his team aim to help governments improve transparency and efficiency, as well as encourage citizen engagement, creativity, and collaboration.

Sapphire Ventures believes that open and transparent governments, with active participation from empowered citizens, make democracies like ours even better. Not only does Socrata have the potential to generate great financial return, but its ability to unleash the power of data will have a tremendous societal impact that will benefit citizens globally.

The number of initiatives aimed at opening up government data has become a tsunami in the last few years. The question among governments and government agencies is not “if we should provide access to public data” but “how best to provide access to public data.” Kevin Merritt founded Socrata solely with the mission to help governments answer this question and has since led the company to become evangelists at the forefront of the open data movement.

Socrata’s culture is imbued with this evangelism. Most employees are there not merely to work on cool technologies but also to make a difference in the lives of citizens in all democracies. Socrata has led the way in conducting research and educating the public and governments on the benefits of open data through detailed reports and other publications. As a result, Socrata has emerged as the leader in providing open data solutions.

The company has already achieved successes working with state government agencies in Illinois, Texas, and Maryland, and major cities such as New York, Chicago, and Austin to make its data more accessible to citizens and developers alike. There are now multiple commercial companies providing solutions and applications such as SiteCompli, ReCollect, DRiVEdecisions, and SeeClickFix, all of which leverage Socrata’s platform via the Open Data NetworkTM.

What’s clear is that Socrata’s cloud-based, open data solutions are ushering in a transformative era of data-driven and transparent government around the world. We believe the public sector is ripe for, and in desperate need of, this kind of massive disruption. It’s why we’re investing in Socrata and recently invested in Scytl, which provides secure electronic voting and electoral modernization solutions.

Sapphire Ventures has helped a number of innovative expansion-stage technology companies, like LinkedIn, Box, ExactTarget, OnDeck Capital, and Mulesoft, scale to become global category-defining leaders, and we’re intent on doing the same with Socrata. We will leverage our years of growth investing experience and close ties with SAP—whose systems are used by countless governments across the world—to aid in market development and lend technical assistance to help build ecosystems of access and use data stored in SAP systems.

We’re still only beginning to see how open data will open doors to citizen-government innovation and collaboration. And we couldn’t be more excited to bring our expertise and global enterprise network connections to bear in helping Socrata open those doors.

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