The Business Graph

The Business Graph

Picture the sweep of business life. Companies are formed, funded, and tested in the marketplace. Products get designed, built and launched. And entrepreneurs, investors and a big cast of business people drive everything forward. Now imagine if you could not only see a timeline of all that activity, but you could also uncover the connections between everyone and everything. That would be the Business Graph.  Think of it as the business world’s answer to Mark Zuckerberg’s “social graph,” which he once described as the “connections between people and the things they care about.” The Business Graph, at its core, is the web of connections between business activities and the people involved in them.

Our vision for CrunchBase is to create that Business Graph. We are not there yet, but we have the right ingredients in terms of technology, data and momentum to make it a reality. For starters, CrunchBase 2.0 is built on database specially designed for graph-based applications. We have an existing dataset of 530,000 people and companies, which in turn brings CrunchBase more than 2 million visitors and 10,000 individual data contributors each month. The fundamentals are strong, and the promise of better information about the vast web of business is huge.

Creating the Business Graph requires a technology platform that can expand and evolve with an ever changing dataset. CrunchBase 2.0 is built on a graph database designed for applications where you can’t neatly predict what data you might add down the road, or what queries you might throw at the data.  It works well in situations where traditional relational and schema-less solutions grind to a halt.  Zuckerberg’s early decision to build on a graph database made it possible for the Facebook experience to morph in ways no one expected, including status updates, social games, and the ubiquitous “Like” button. Likewise, we know Crunchbase will take on directions we have not even considered yet. Graph databases are technically challenging, and fortunately we were able to partner with Neo Technology to build CrunchBase 2.0 around Neo4j, the leading open-source graph database.

Even in the early days of CrunchBase 2.0, we can see how the graph will help us evolve. We launched with four types of entities, including people, organizations, products and schools, and soon you’ll see the addition of events, like TechCrunch Disrupt and Startup Weekends. Likewise, we initially have three activity types — fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs — and soon we will add product announcements, patents, legal issues and more. Every week surfaces new data ideas that apply to the Business Graph, many of them from third parties eager to contribute their datasets. Thanks to graph technology, we can easily add new datasets and build new experiences around them.

Important as technology is, the Business Graph also needs strong community support in order to succeed. When it comes to trust and openness, our guide is CrunchBase’s seven-year track record of integrity. CrunchBase is licensed under Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC), which means it will always be accessible. Any registered user may contribute data to any part of the site, and the dataset will always be open to the community and available to partners. We hope that our strong relationship with the ever growing startup community will only deepen as CrunchBase adds more content, becomes easier to use, and promises far more data-driven insights than ever before.

That is the story of CrunchBase and the Business Graph, so far.  If you have any questions or thoughts, please email us.


Matt Kaufman