Data centric companies have become one of the most favored sectors for private equity investors in recent years. This trend started gaining momentum in 2011. Although private equity began exploring data analytics companies as an investment thesis in 2007 and 2008, the recession of 2009 – 2010 halted most PE investments across all sectors during this time.
The increased focus on data analytics companies is largely fueled by the adoption of predictive analytics (initially), and subsequently by machine learning and the rise in artificial intelligence. These applications require data (preferably good data) as the atomic input unit from which to learn. Input data informs machine learning much the same way our five senses input data into our brain, from which we derive patterns and develop predictive skills.
Data-as-a-product resonates with private equity investment preferences precisely because it is scalable, potentially quite profitable and not capital intensive (relative to scalability).