Microsoft Buys Startup BrightBytes’s DataSense Service

Morning Markets: Microsoft just bought something called BrightBytes, which makes something called DataSense. Let’s explore.

This morning Microsoft announced in a carefully-worded blog post that it is “bringing BrightBytes Data Management platform DataSense into the Microsoft Education family,” a deal that appears to involve BrightBytes’s SaaS product along with its “data management team.”

BrightBytes is a San Francisco-based software company whose DataSense product aggregates, measures, and shares data relating to technology and education. Per the company’s website, DataSense is akin to a central hub through which all sorts of education data can pass, allowing for centralization.

Reading the language of both the Microsoft and BrightBytes blogs (here, and here), it isn’t entirely clear if Microsoft bought the smaller company outright, or merely the DataSense portion of it. I’ve emailed Microsoft’s communications team for clarifications on the scale of the deal, including how it impacts personnel.

Update: The sale is for DataSense, not BrightBytes as we’ve described and now confirmed with the company. The only impacted personnel are management folks associated with DataSense itself.

BrightBytes itself has raised a total of $51.5 million over several rounds, most recently a July 2015 Series C that came with $33 million. Insight Venture Partners led that deal. Moving backward through time, Bessemer Venture Partners led the firm’s March 2014 Series B which weighed in at $15 million. BrightBytes’s Series A was a small, 2013 vintage $2.5 million affair led by Rethink Education.

Most venture-backed companies raise more often than BrightBytes has in recent years. A 3.5-year gap between investments can, therefore, be read as either bearish–the company couldn’t raise more external capital–or bullish, that the firm could achieve venture-level results without raising new, dilutive monies.

Today’s deal isn’t Microsoft’s first of the year, notably. The company picked up Citus Data in January, according to Crunchbase data. Microsoft has acquired a host of companies in recent months, including four known companies last November alone.

All of this matters as it shows a regular appetite in Redmond for smaller shops. There was once a time in which Yahoo was a leading acquirer of smaller tech companies. I wonder if Microsoft is slowing growing into its shoes. The difference, of course, is that Yahoo liked buying small, consumer-focused affairs. Microsoft’s acquisition list is a bit more enterprise-focused, unsurprisingly.

For more on the pace of acquisitions by the biggest companies in tech, head here and here.

Top Image Credit: Li-Anne Dias.


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