Ascent Venture Partners Says Data Intelligence Is the Next Big Thing, Tech Startups Will Get Scooped Up Like Biotechs, and Bigger Isn’t Always Better

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determining that the market for enterprise database security was largely unaddressed, Oblak says. A few years later, it looks like IBM agreed. Big Blue acquired Guardium in 2009, shelling out a reported $225 million to roll the Waltham, MA-based company into its Information Management Software portfolio. (Ascent didn’t disclose its amount of investment in the firm, but Guardium raised a total of about $21 million in venture money before being bought.)

Ascent is now backing another company with an interesting take on security. V.i. Labs, of Waltham, is making software hacking into a moneymaker—for the party being hacked, that is. Its technology, called CodeArmor, allows software makers to trace the source of the hacking, which often comes from existing customers who are unknowingly using more licenses than they have purchased. “It’s not just a hacker in a basement,” says Oblak.

CodeArmor users can take the information to the offender and use it as an opportunity to sell them the necessary increase in software licenses to become compliant, he says. “Let’s turn piracy into a revenue opportunity,” Oblak says of the V.i. Labs attraction.

2. Data analysis is hot.

Data intelligence is a “huge theme” for the investments Ascent is pursuing, says Fates. He says that slice of software could surpass the large software markets for customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.

With its fifth fund, Ascent is targeting IT companies that make sense of the massive amounts of data available through everything from social media sites to hotlines to merchant records, the team told me. In addition to V.i., which makes piracy data useful to software companies, Ascent has invested in ClickFox, an Atlanta-based startup that’s developing technology for measuring customer satisfaction in venues such as e-commerce, store kiosks, and the oft-frustrating customer service phone calls. The analytics technology aims to help merchants enhance their returns by focusing on interactions that bring customers back and eliminating those that turn them off.

Ascent also backed Cymfony, which was one of the earliest companies to track and distill what was being said on the Internet about a brand. Kantar Media, a European market research company formally named TNS Media Intelligence, acquired Watertown, MA-based Cymfony in 2007. In the meantime, many other media analytics companies have sprouted up, including … Next Page »

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