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Kaggle gets a gaggle of VC cash

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Australian data analytics crowdsourcing start-up Kaggle has raised $US11 million in Series A funding from a glittering array of technorati.

The financing round was led by Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures with participation from PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, Google chief economist Hal Varian and Applied Semantics’ (now Google Adsense) co-founder Gil Elbaz.

Index Ventures partner Neil Rimer will join Kaggle’s board of directors and Levchin has been named chairman of the company.

“Our vision is to grow Kaggle into a hive buzzing with enough public and private competitions to support hundreds or thousands of data scientists relying on Kaggle for their full-time incomes,” the company said on its blog.

The company will be devoting some of the dosh into talent acquisition and is actively seeking staff that “can translate geek-speak into pinstripe explanations or are maestros of modeling or can write fast robust and beautiful code.”

“Wonder what it was like to be one of the first ten employees at Google, Facebook or Apple? Kaggle is looking to hire technical sales folk, data scientists and developers,” the blog said.

Kaggle, which now has headquarters in San Fransisco, was launched last year by Australian Anthony Goldbloom using the collective brains trust of over 17,000 global data scientists across fields spanning computer science, statistics, economics and mathematics to solve big data problems via competitions. Kaggle sets up real-time leaderboards for each problem that's being solved and turns them into competitions and awards prizes accordingly.

It has partnered with NASA, Wikipedia and Deloitte for its data mining competitions which have resulted in diverse breakthroughs from NASA’s analysis of dark matter, mapping HIV trends to predicting the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Goldbloom, a former statistician for the Australian government described Kaggle as addresessing a serious market failure in that companies have data that they can’t analyze it while academia is desperate for real-world data sets.

He plans to roll out 10,000 competitions per year within five years and aims for competitors to be able to earn a full-time income from participating. ®

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