Investors From Ad Tech And Politics Contribute To SafeGraph’s $16M Series A

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The startup data management platform SafeGraph will emerge from an extended beta period Wednesday with a $16 million Series A investment and its first product, which tracks and analyzes human movement in public places.

SafeGraph isn’t disclosing any initial partners or clients, but CEO Auren Hoffman told AdExchanger the company’s business development plans include advertising and marketing use cases, as well as data services for urban planners, government agencies, retailers and real estate holders.

SafeGraph is backed by an army of technology and policy advisers.

Hoffman, a co-founder and former CEO of LiveRamp, brought on more than 30 colleagues from LiveRamp, as well as all five corporate leaders at Acxiom: CEO Scott Howe, CFO Warren Jenson, Audience Solutions President Rick Erwin, executive VP Jerry Jones and LiveRamp CEO Travis May.

Hoffman also has backers from across the ad tech industry, including the current CEOs of AppNexus, MediaMath, DataXu, Rubicon Project, PubMatic, OpenX, Krux, AppLovin, Turn, Tapad, Drawbridge, Datalogix, LiveIntent, Amobee and the recently acquired Moat.

AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley and MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki both recently told AdExchanger that they had invested in SafeGraph without any clear sense of the startup’s business model.

“We all know each other and have been friends and colleagues who came up together,” O’Kelley said last month. “There definitely is an ad tech cabal.”

On top of that ad tech base, SafeGraph has several well-placed backers who can help the company bridge into other data-driven corporate spheres, like American Express President Ash Gupta and Starwood Hotels CEO Barry Sternlicht.

“Something starting with (an) ad tech background can actually benefit lots of industries,” Hoffman said, noting that Invite Media’s co-founders sold their display advertising technology to Google before starting Flatiron Health, a data analytics and management platform for oncology clinics.

And SafeGraph does have plans to wade into some thorny business categories, like government agency work and heavily regulated spaces like city development, driverless cars and traffic management.

Perhaps the most successful data startup when it comes to securing major government data and software contracts is Palantir, whose chairman, Peter Thiel, is also an early SafeGraph investor. President Obama’s former deputy chief of staff, Mona Sutphen, and former US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, both SafeGraph investors, provide some across-the-aisle support for any US government efforts.

“We think there is no downside to having lots of amazing people rooting for you to succeed,” Hoffman said. “We’re super excited to have all these talented people in our corner – we can ask them for advice, support, help and ideas.”



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