Sometimes at Black Swan we have some news we just have to share; the last time we couldn’t keep a cork in it was the UK’s Fastest Growing Start-up award from the Sunday Times. This time we are delighted to confirm our series B investment has been secured from our friends at Mitsui, Japan’s top corporation and one of the largest groups in the world. This investment will help us scale our international growth plans, build on our US presence, hire in some key talent and make a few tactical acquisitions. We will also use it to invest in our NEST data unification platform, adding new features and functions built on well oiled technology to cope with the surging volume of data, web and social information we hoover up and ingest daily.
I still find our story hard to believe, from our humble roots in a shared incubator on London’s Southbank to our 200 people multi-site business, all following a 48 month fast downstream paddle chased by a tidal wave of activity. Actually our story is really a series of individual stories over time, episodes peppered with a lot of fun, excitement and punctuated by extraordinary commitment from our people. We’ve grown organically through word of mouth and referral and we rarely pitch – pitches aren’t really our kind of thing. We’ve grown by disrupting with new ideas, turning heads and working with people who have the same “can do” attitude as we do, using data science to surface valuable connections in information for our brand partners – the Black Swan moments. We rather hope our growth will always be organic, even as we wrestle with the finer points around our brand and proposition in various markets. But, it’s our people who have been central to our story, creating the chapters with us, writing the words on its pages through their genius and their courage to think differently.
Part of growing up is dealing with the responsibility that comes with it, but we keep our core values very much at the centre of what we do. This is summed up in our ethos, which is to be “nice to people, just because…” We love to break rules and put a big old dent in conventions, specialising in staying ahead of the market, helping to uncover true innovations by listening at scale across the whole of the internet. By parsing academic research, we see and hear about things that will come to pass in the years ahead, voyaging over the horizon to understand the shape of the future world with the help of savants from across academia, then coming back to tell people what we’ve found – we are all about exploring the unexpected, it’s in our DNA.
2016 is going quickly. Already this month we’ve visited SxSW, been appointed to the Government’s Digital Marketplace, and we’ve popped in for tea at No 10. We’re also exploring new ideas in packaged goods, music, entertainment, sports participation, operational planning for health services and figuring out what drivers in the Chinese market will impact investment banking. We are even starting to try and map the previously un-mappable: finding new industry metrics for outdoor media by listening to weak signals around geofenced locations, and spending a bit of time on one of our favourite activities with White Swan, our CSR programme, which provides open source access to our platform for projects for “the greater good of humankind” – whether that’s helping self medication by identifying and providing alerts to environmental triggers, finding communities of rare disease by mapping social language, or phenotyping data.
So here’s to blowing the dust off the case, flipping open the catches, dusting down our trumpet and giving it a bit of what for. Here’s to the next stage.