Because we use Silk to tell stories and visualize data, we are always looking for interesting ways to pull data into a Silk. Right now that means getting data into the CSV format. Fortunately, a wave of new and powerful visual webscraping tools and services have emerged. These make it very simple for anyone (no technical skills required) to scrape data from a website and export that data into a CSV which we can quickly upload into a Silk.
Cool New Scraping Tools
One of the tools we love in this new space is Kimono Labs. Backed by Y Combinator, Kimono combines a visual scraping editor with the ability to do very granular code-inspector level editing to scraping paths. Saved scrapes can be turned into APIs and exported as JSON. Kimono also lets you save time-series versioning of scrapes.
Like many startups, we watch the goings on at AngelList very closely. Syndicates are of particular interest. Basically, these are DIY venture capital pools that allow a qualified investor to serve as a syndicate leader and aggregate small investments from other qualified investors who are members of AngelList. The idea of the syndicates is to democratize the VC process and make it easier and less risky for individuals to participate.
We used Kimono to scrape information on the Top 25 Syndicates ranked by dollars backing each round. Kimono makes it very easy to visually designate which parts of a page to scrape and how many rows there are on a page. (Here you can see me highlighting the minimum dollar investment). We downloaded the information as a CSV and did a quick scrub to get it ready for upload to Silk. The process took no more than 15 minutes.
We could tell by eyeballing the numbers beforehand that a serious Power Law was in effect. And the actual data analysis on Silk bore this out. We chose to use a pie chart to show distribution. Three syndicates control nearly two-thirds of all the committed capital by Angel.co members in the syndicate program. One of the top three - Tim Ferriss - has no background as a venture capitalist or building technology companies but is rapidly becoming a force in startup investing. The person with the largest committed syndicate pool, Gil Penachina, is someone who is a quiet mover and shaker in Silicon Valley but he clearly packs a huge punch.
The largest syndicate in terms of likely commitments of deals per year is Foundry Group Angels, a group led by Brad Feld (@bfeld). While they put in less per deal, they are planning to back over 50 deals per year - a huge number. Trailing far behind those three was media impresario and Launch conference mogul Jason Calacanis, who is one of the most visible people in the startup space.
We’ll come back in the next few weeks with more extensive rankings and detailed breakdown. And the Kimono Labs API we created with this scrape is here. Feel free to email us or talk to us on Twitter @silkdotco.