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Finding high-quality information about a public company such as IBM (IBM) or General Electric (GE) is simple. Sorting out which startups are working on synthetic biology is far trickier. "It's in private companies where so much of the world's technology is being developed," says Bob Goodson, a 30-year-old entrepreneur in San Francisco. "To date, no one has delved into what these companies are doing."
On Sept. 14, Goodson and co-founder Sean Gourley launched Quid to address that need. (The business was spun off from YouNoodle. Bloomberg Businessweek has collaborated with YouNoodle on several research projects.) Investor Peter Thiel says Quid has the potential to become the go-to source for high-quality information on technology startups. Over the last two years, Quid stealthily researched thousands of private companies, building a database that includes legal filings, financing information, hiring decisions, and consumer sentiment about them as expressed on sites such as Twitter. While other research firms claim to have comprehensive data on private companies, Goodson says Quid is distinct because it analyzes the raw numbers, helping pinpoint where innovation is happening, what trends are emerging, and where the funding is. Quid's software, for instance, can infer how fast a startup is growing based on openings posted on job sites.
Goodson says Quid's information will be valuable to venture capitalists, governments, and large technology companies, all of which need to keep tabs on trends. Three of the world's top technology companies started using Quid even before its public launch, according to Goodson. He'll name only Microsoft (MSFT), which tracks the social gaming industry with Quid. "We use Quid data and analytics to keep 2,000 managers aware of the latest trends and facts from the world of emerging business," says Cliff Reeves, director of the emerging business team at Microsoft. The U.K. government also subscribes to Quid's analytics to track British technology companies.
Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook, has invested about $2 million in Quid and YouNoodle. He says Quid's products will be essential to others in his field. "Venture capital and a lot of those things that are involved around developing new technologies are themselves quite low-tech," says Thiel, 42. "One of the things that would be revolutionary about Quid is an attempt to bring high tech to the industry that tries to develop technology itself."
The bottom line: Governments, venture capitalists, and companies use Quid's data and analytics to keep tabs on emerging technology trends.