Socrata lands $18 million, continuing mission to unlock troves of government data

Seattle entrepreneur Kevin Merritt wants to help lead a transformation in government. Not by running for office, but through unleashing the mountains of data that government transportation departments, health departments and other agencies have amassed over the years.

And today, Socrata is getting a big boost to deliver on that mission. The company just scored $18 million in fresh funding from OpenView Venture Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures and Frazier Technology Partners. That brings total funding to the six-year-old company to $25 million, which means Socrata will be able to help more governments unlock data that has historically been stuck in legacy data silos.

Originally started as the online database Blist, Merritt changed the company’s name to Socrata in 2009, completing a pivot into the open government niche.  It has been a smart transformation, with Socrata now helping to lead the charge in the realm of open government.

“We discovered that the innovative approaches we pioneered in open data are a catalyst for a much more sweeping shift toward the data-driven government,” said Merritt in a press release. “Socrata is leading this shift by institutionalizing the data-fueled innovation process that puts quality of life information in citizens’ hands, and empowers government leaders to improve performance and decision-making with newfound facts and insights.”

Merritt is a proven entrepreneur, having previously founded MessageRite, an email archiving service acquired by FrontBridge Technologies. FrontBridge was then acquired by Microsoft in 2005, bringing Merritt to Seattle where he worked at the software giant as a software architect.

A number of cities are already utilizing Socrata. For example, The City of Austin is using the Open Data Platform to compile restaurant inspection information, while King County in Washington state is using the service to showcase election results and other voter information.

As a result of the funding, Scott Maxwell of OpenView will join the board. The company now employs 48 people, and with the new funds it plans to ramp up hiring.

“As a company we’re now ready to put (the money) to good use,” Merritt tells GeekWire. “We are the open data market leader and we’ve absolutely figured out the product market fit which has translated into strong customer traction and partner interest. We have a deep product backlog, many new customers coming online and new partnerships that need to be operationalized. The funding allows us to make those investments sooner.”