It’s been a tough day for Dataminr, the New York-based big data unicorn that was last valued at $4.1 billion. TechCrunch has learned that the company — which uses AI and big data algorithms to provide predictive insights about news and other global events — is laying off about 20% of its current workforce, or 150 people. It cites economic environmental impact, operational efficiencies, and “the recent rapid development of our AI platform,” according to a memo from founder and CEO Ted Bailey, shared us a source.
In the company-wide memo we’ve seen, staff are told to work from home now while they await details on whether they will be part of the affected group of employees. The company has been signaling to staff since October that a change is coming, though it’s unclear which areas of the business are affected, or what the company’s business has been doing recently.
Bailey noted in the memo that the restructuring measures “will put Dataminr on a strong financial footing going forward.” The company will look to further develop its AI platform and products – notably launching a new AI platform in Q1 that will combine predictive AI with generative AI – but despite the investment that it needs, as a result of the moves it is making today, “Dataminr has many years of cash runway and a near-term path to profitability,” he continued. (That could also mean it’s setting itself up for a scenario where it won’t raise additional outside funding.)
We reached out to Bailey, the company’s media relations team, and various individuals to confirm the details given to us by a source (who, unfortunately, seems to be one of those affected: sorry again, friend) . One of the individuals, who asked not to be named, also confirmed the details. Meanwhile, there are already posts on LinkedIn from others who heard the news through the grapevine and are looking to hire.
And just as we were about to publish it, a company spokesperson confirmed the memo to us.
Dataminr, founded in 2009, first rose to prominence at a time when we were seeing the emergence of companies using smart big data techniques to parse unstructured data from social posts. media and combines it with structured and unstructured data from other sources to understand public sentiment and other insights.
Dataminr takes that concept and applies it to insights about global events and other news: users with mobile phones use platforms like Twitter as an outlet to post about something they saw: Dataminr tapped it, combined it with other data sources, and was able to capture a development as it happened, often ahead of others in the world of jumping news.
Not surprisingly, some of the data it collects and how it is used has drawn controversy over the years. But that’s not stopping the company from gaining traction. Dataminr has found success with key partnerships with companies such as Twitter, and customers in government, business, financial services and media.
And in the heady funding days of the 2010s, it raised money — lots of it. It was last valued at $4.1 billion when it raised $475 million in 2021. In total, it has raised more than $1 billion, with its 100+ investors including the likes of Fidelity and Morgan Stanley, as well Venrock, IVP and many more. (Twitter, now called X, used to be an investor too though it dismissed its stake some time ago.) PitchBook data shows it raised an undisclosed amount in addition funding in two different tranches last year.
Dataminr often has several “subject matter experts” on staff along with engineers and sales and customer specialists. In recent years, and likely this year, the company has really doubled down on the AI aspect of its tech stack, one reason why it sees a route forward that reduces workforce without affecting the business.