Motivation: tracking startup funding in the Bay Area

Last year, my good friend Alex quit his cushy Apple retail management job. His wife Nicole quit her nonprofit. They decided to turn their vision into a startup, and were at a fork in the road: try to find a technical cofounder? or take six months and teach themselves to code?

They asked me for advice. I learn by doing, and believe others do also. So my answer was simple: teach yourself to code by building your product.

Now it’s time for me to swallow my own medicine.

My name is Sam Bhagwat; I’m the CFO of Blueseed, the visa-free startup ship, and I’m training myself to be a data scientist, and this is my first project: to create a visualization of Bay Area venture funding*.

While it’s common knowledge that the startup center of gravity is gradually shifting to San Francisco from Palo Alto, there has been precious little concrete data published on this trend — and I happen to know where some data is.

For those outside the startup world, non-public business ventures are more-or-less required to file a notification, termed a “Form D”, with the SEC when raising money. I say “more-or-less” because some stealth-mode startups choose not to file, but this is very tricky as it limits founder and investor recourse.

This form gives information on the startup, where it is located, and how much money it raised or is raising. I’ll then map this data to locales — so if, Palantir, headquartered in Palo Alto, raises money, it will be credited to Palo Alto. If Square, headquartered in San Francisco, raises money, it will be credited to San Francisco.

The SEC has only required online filing back to March 16, 2009. I pulled the data on April 22, 2013, which gives me about four years.

*Yes, this is small data; however, manipulating the data in Excel and visualizing it will require a decent bit of programming outside the Excel-Powerpoint suite I’m intimately familiar with from my consulting days.

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