February 11: From BI to AI (Alteryx, Census, DvSum, Qwak, ScaleUp:AI, Scandit, Starburst, Superconductive, Trifacta, Wallaroo, ZL Tech)
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On February 7, Alteryx announced that it had closed its acquisition of Trifacta, as noted in the January 7 From BI to AI. Amalgam Insights’ Hyoun Park provided recommendations and insights on Alteryx’ acquisition of Trifacta earlier this week.
Starburst, a data mesh analytics company, announced at its Datanova conference this week that it had raised a $250M Series D funding round. Alkeon Capital led the round, with participation from new investors Altimeter and B Capital Group as well as existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue Management, Index Ventures and Salesforce Ventures.
Amalgam’s Insight: One of the top challenges of this decade is in accelerating time-to-value on scattered and distributed data. The race to both develop this market and achieve market leadership is occurring quickly and Starburst’s focus on distributed query provides a flexible approach to consider.
Scandit, a computer vision-based edge data capture company, announced on February 9 that it had completed a Series D funding round of $150M. Warburg Pincus led the round, with additional participation from existing investors Atomico, Forestay Capital, G2VP, GV, Kreos, NGP Capital, Schneider Electric, Sony Innovation Fund by IGV and Swisscom Ventures. The funding will go towards continuing Scandit’s global expansion, with a particular focus on APAC, specifically Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
Amalgam’s Insight: Visual data such as barcodes, QR codes, and text continue to provide valuable capabilities in supporting the On-Demand economy. The ability to translate visual data into workflows, documentation, and transactions based on a single scan is still maturing and Scandit’s new round of funding will allow it to support e-commerce, support, and logistics challenges in the APAC region.
Census, a business-user targeted data layer, has raised $60M in a Series B round led by Tiger. Previous investors Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia and new investor Insight Partners also participated in the round. The funding will go towards expanding the product, including adding more data connectors to their library, adding new CI/CD (continuous integration and delivery) features, and building governance into their platform via a business-wide knowledge graph.
Amalgam’s Insight: Although $60 million is not a huge amount for the likes of Tiger Global, A16z, Sequoia, and Insight Partners, it is notable that four of the biggest venture capital firms with a data background saw the value of Census to enable business knowledge graphs. The holy grail of the business graph has been a goal for over a decade since the days that “Social Business” was still a buzzword. However, it has been difficult in practice to translate the vision of a fully interconnected data graph within the business into a reality. If this round goes as planned, don’t be surprised to see Census become a unicorn startup in the next couple of years.
Superconductive, the provider of open source data quality tool Great Expectations, has raised a $40M Series B round. Tiger Global led the round, with participation from CRV, Index, and Root Ventures. The funds will be used for R+D towards releasing their first commercial product, as well as growing the organization through hiring.
Amalgam’s Insight: One of the new key phrases in today’s world of machine learning is that analytic and machine learning models are only as good as the data they are based on. Superconductive seeks to create a more collaborative experience to create better data pipelines so that all relevant data experts and developers can do their part to keep data clean.
Wallaroo, a machine learning operationalization company, has closed a $25M Series A round of funding. M12, Microsoft’s venture arm, led the round, along with participation from existing investors Boldstart Ventures, Contour Venture Partners, Eniac Ventures, and Greycroft, as well as new investors NSS Advisors and Ridgeline Partners. Wallaroo will use the funds to both improve their existing product and release a free version, as well as grow sales and marketing.
Amalgam’s Insight: Wallaroo seeks to reduce the cost of operationalizing machine learning. This has obvious repercussions for Microsoft, which is in a race with Amazon and Google to put as many demanding workloads onto its cloud as soon as possible. Wallaroo’s claims of reducing time to production by over 90% should prove to be valuable in getting more models into production.
MLOps company Qwak raised $15M in a Series A round, joining a number of companies eager to help companies operationalize their machine learning models. New investors include Leaders Fund and StageOne Ventures, while previous investor Amiti Ventures and individual investors also participated. The funds will go towards product development, as well as expanding sales and marketing.
Amalgam’s Insight: The pain point of animal-named companies getting models into production is a continuing theme those week. Qwak seeks to be a holistic machine learning engineering solution with its goal of being a destination for data scientists to build, test, and deploy models within a single platform and its claims of being able to get a model from script to production in less than five minutes.
Product Launches and Updates
Starburst also announced new capabilities for its Starburst Enterprise product at Datanova. New and improved features include access control to secure data products for consistent governance, the ability for data engineers and producers to define relevant metadata in said data products, and rating and sharing of said data products to make data accessible as quickly as possible.
Amalgam’s Insight: The battle for context continues to be a massive challenge and Starburst’s additions of data governance and metadata definitions align to the need for business users to trust the data that they are providing to their customers.
On February 8, ZL Tech announced improvements to ZL People Analytics, its SaaS solution for unstructured information management. Instead of being confined to a “sandboxed” structured database, ZL People Analytics includes unstructured data such email, documents, and company chat in its purview while allowing that data to remain in-place to address governance and regulatory concerns, making the data search process more efficient.
Amalgam’s Insight: Text analytics can be both cumbersome to support and provide governance nightmares as GDPR, CCPA, and other personal information management laws have become standard practice. By supporting analytics on top of semi-structured and unstructured data, this offering helps companies to get more information while keeping data centralized and in-location.
On February 7, DvSum debuted its augmented data catalog solution. Key features include automatic cataloging, classification, and curation of data, as well as recommending new entities and business terms for an organization’s business glossary. There is a free tier available; premium plans based on the number of data sources and users start at $1k/month.
Amalgam’s Insight: The data catalog has become an important part of the data manager’s toolkit in defining the business view of the world. However, data curation is still a relatively expensive endeavor and DvSum is seeking to provide context while maintaining a cost-efficient offering.
On April 6 and 7, Insight Partners will host ScaleUp:AI, an AI industry conference, in New York and virtually. Confirmed speakers include Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi; Allie K. Miller, Global Head of Machine Learning Business Development, Startups, and Venture Capital at AWS; Google Brain cofounder Andrew Ng; Humana Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer Heather Carroll Cox; Fiddler AI CEO Krishna Gabe; and SentinelOne CEO and cofounder Tomer Weingarten. The in-person event is sold out, but virtual passes are still available; register for the event at ScaleUp:AI.