The professional history of Darian Shirazi reads like a Silicon Valley success story.
At 17, he interned at eBay before landing a spot with the then fledgling Facebook as one of the social media site's first ten hires. He left his job as a Facebook engineer in 2007 to study philosophy and computer science at UC Berkeley, only to drop out the same year to pursue his own entrepreneurial dreams.
Flash forward to 2014, and Shirazi is at the helm of Radius, a marketing intelligence software company that uses big data and data science to help its customers target marketing messages to the right consumer groups.
Last week, the five-year-old San Francisco-based company announced that it secured $54.7 million in a Series C funding round, bringing the total it has raised to around $80 million.
The investor list, a venerable who's who of venture capitalists, includes Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, former Morgan Stanley chairman John Mack, and actor/entrepreneur Jared Leto, among others.
Radius's integrated software platform specifically targets B2B marketers (clients include Adobe Systems, PayPal and American Express) by tracking more than 50 billion data points on 40 million businesses. It connects to a company's CRM, and then uses public, government and other partner sources of data to analyze and refine a client's marketing strategy, helping them generate lead lists of their ideal prospects, increase sales or scale to a national campaign.
Beyond prospect data, Radius also provides social media activity from the likes of Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Google and Foursquare, all in one centrally configured place.
Unlike the majority of companies that balk at the "Who's your competitor?" question, Shirazi, in a recent interview with ZDNet, was rather forthcoming about who he sees as Radius's competition.
"There are a lot of companies in the space, but nobody does a good blend of software and data," Shirazi said. "Most companies on the data side are really just data providers. On the analytics side, companies like Infer are much smaller and they haven't raised as much as we have."
Elaborating further on Radius's edge over the competition, Shirazi said his company's platform is not only easier to deploy, but also more robust.
"With Infer, it takes about two to three weeks to get their platform up and running," he said. "Ours gets set up in about 4 hours. Other competitors in the space, such as Lattice, have a few features that they do really well. But Radius can analyze customer segments and deliver leads and data directly from the CRM, so we consider ours an entire marketing intelligence platform."
Shirazi also posited that no other companies going after the booming B2B marketing space, such as Oracle, Marketo and LinkedIn, have a central competency in data science.
"There aren't that many companies that have a core DNA of data science," he said.
Autonomy vs. acquisition
A marketing intelligence company is a hot commodity in the enterprise tech world. Google, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM have been scooping up promising marketing startups for the last few years in a bid keep the best tech to themselves.
But Shirazi has managed to avoid the acquisition route, and instead sees Radius's future as a publically traded company.
"We want to build a public company," he said. "You need freedom to build something incredible. We built this practice around data science and the appreciation for data science, and in order to do this right and solve the problems of such a large market, we felt like we had to stay independent."
The next steps
While some may view the more than $50 million raise as a bit much, Shirazi said the funding will go toward increasing Radius's 50-person team, and ultimately expand its marketing intelligence muscle.
"We are going to continue to hire more data scientists and more sales people," he said. "The majority of the reason we raised so much is to build and grow. Radius is going to make it really hard to hire data scientists — we plan to hire as many data scientists as we can!"
Shirazi also said he plans to expand Radius's platform integration capabilities, especially on the customer side. Currently, Radius integrates only with Salesforce.com's software. It was a strategic move — the two companies have complementary businesses — but it was also merely a starting point.
"Salesforce has a wide distribution and it's the best CRM product, so it was obvious to integrate with them first," he said. "Our goal is to build a company that applies data science and an appreciation for data science to help marketers become more data driven and perform better."