Silk scores $1.6m to build its own semantic web

Web service Silk has just landed a seed round from Silicon Valley royalty as it tries to build out its vision of a world where any sort of data can be connected.

The Dutch company — which I described earlier this year as ‘the semantic web for the rest of us’ — has just announced a $1.6 million seed round led by NEA, the Sand Hill Road firm that has backed the likes of Salesforce, Macromedia and 23andMe.

It marks a significant moment for the company, which is trying to build a self-service semantic engine that can help companies and individuals understand, drill down and work with data, documents and content. That’s all a bit hand-wavy, so to get an idea of what Silk does, here’s what I said the last time I wrote about it:

It works like this: you build a series of pages inside Silk and link them together with tags. The pages can be anything you like: text files, pages from your website, company documents, your schedule. And the tags, too, can cover anything you like: any genre of data you can imagine.You then use the simple editor to add tags to your documents (telling it, for example, that the “United States” in your file refers to a country) and it connects the dots for you.

For example: say you’ve got a set of files with information about various countries and you want to rank them by GDP. While traditionally you’d have to do it manually — or at least get an underling to compile a spreadsheet from the data in your documents — Silk makes it far easier to perform the same task without requiring those extra steps.
If your Silk pages are tagged properly, the app simply joins the data together and allows you to instantly build charts, graphs or maps documenting the data you’re after.

That’s still the case. It’s an entirely web-based service, and to get an idea of what it can do, try taking a look around the Countries of the World subdomain that Silk has up and running. It allows you to combine and re-combine different data sets on nations from all over the globe that has been drawn from Wikipedia.

The site runs impressive technology and it’s remarkably fast — but it still requires some work to turn it into a really useable service for the kinds of businesses that can make the most out of it. CEO and co-founder Salar al Khafaji said it was a “milestone” for Silk.

The company had previously raised a $455,000 round led by Atomico (Rdio, Fon, Xobni). The London-based fund will be joining this round too, alongside angel investors Anil Hansjee, Philippe Cases and Jens Christensen.