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Inside data.world, Brett Hurt's Austin company that secured $50M in funding this week

Brett Hurt is the cofounder of data.world, an Austin company that nabbed $50 million in funding this week. (data.world)

Before Dell’s founding and Central Texas growing into the massive tech hub it is today, born and raised Austinite Brett Hurt started programming at just seven years old.

Now, the entrepreneur who has taken on a handful of ventures, including Bazaarvoice and Coremetrics, opens up to Austonia about what he calls his most ambitious and exciting one yet: data.world. This week, the company announced $50 million in funding led by Goldman Sachs. Additionally, in the next 12 months, Hurt aims to double the size of the team.


Data.world uses a cloud-native data catalog to map out distributed data and get answers on questions a business may have, and it was founded in 2016 by Hurt and three others whom he calls some of the best technology executives in Austin.

“We came together and we ultimately were brainstorming about the future of data and why data is so siloed in the world given that we’re supposed to all be networked,” Hurt said.

They went through theories and talked to people about how it came to be this way, and decided to do something to fix it. “It really prevents humanity from solving some of the bigger problems,” Hurt said.

Hurt lists off a few areas he hopes to remedy the disconnect whether it’s data on housing, dislocation or education.

For organizations operating in the public sphere and giving away their data to “increase the overall positive aspects of humanity,” Hurt says they’ve created a platform people can use for free. Whereas those using it private internal company data pay for the service.

In Austin, data.world’s customers include insurance agency The Zebra and driving school Aceable.

Though tech companies face a tough hiring environment with talent that has many options, Hurt thinks people are attracted to data.world because of its status as a B corporation, or one that prioritizes social and public good and operating sustainably. These companies consider a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

Think Ben & Jerry’s, which donates some of its revenue to charity or Patagonia trying to make improvements to the environmental impact of its fabric. So while Hurt sees the popularity of B Corps in consumer products, he hasn’t seen it adopted as much in the enterprise space.

But he’s hoping to change the tide. In a TechCrunch article, he advocated for Facebook to become a B Corp and noted other Austin companies are launching as or switching to B Corps like ZenBusiness, Osano and Capital Factory.

“Being able to pioneer a new way of being as a company, especially as a tech company, I think is really important,” Hurt said.

With data, he sees an opportunity to seek out facts and act on it.

“The basis of human progress has always been collaboration. A lot of people think, negatively, that human progress has been based on competition. But the reality is that we're very collaborative issues, and we're meant to help each other, we're meant to partner,” Hurt said. “That's the way that we survived the harshest times before we had shelter and everything else. And data really is at the center of that.”

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