Above the Trend Line: your industry rumor central is a recurring feature of insideBIGDATA. In this column, we present a variety of short time-critical news items grouped by category such as M&A activity, people movements, funding news, industry partnerships, customer wins, rumors and general scuttlebutt floating around the big data, data science and machine learning industries including behind-the-scenes anecdotes and curious buzz. Our intent is to provide you a one-stop source of late-breaking news to help you keep abreast of this fast-paced ecosystem. We’re working hard on your behalf with our extensive vendor network to give you all the latest happenings. Heard of something yourself? Tell us! Just e-mail me at: daniel@insidebigdata.com. Be sure to Tweet Above the Trend Line articles using the hashtag: #abovethetrendline.

Looking forward to being on-site for the MWC-LA conference this week, including a special session with NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang. Never a dull moment in the big data industry!

Let’s start off with some new funding news … Sisu, the fast and comprehensive diagnostic platform for structured data, announced it has secured $52.5M in a Series B funding round led by NEA. Andreessen Horowitz, the a16z Cultural Leadership Fund, and Green Bay Ventures also participated in the new round. The funding brings Sisu’s total capital raised to $66.7M, and coincides with the public launch of Sisu’s data analytics platform. This investment will fuel Sisu’s expansion in the rapidly growing operational analytics market, where it already counts large enterprises like Samsung and Upwork as customers … Databricks, a leader in unified data analytics, announced a $400 million investment to continue powering its market-leading growth and rapid customer adoption. This Series F round, led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Late Stage Venture Fund, is intended to accelerate innovation and scale across the globe, and values Databricks at $6.2 billion. Andreessen Horowitz is joined by major new investors including funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Inc., funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and Tiger Global Management. The company has grown annual recurring revenue (ARR) well over 2.5x over the past year and has gone from almost no revenue to a $200 million revenue run rate in less than four years. … Algolia, a leading Search and Discovery solution, announced it has raised $110 million in funding. The company’s Series C was led by existing investor Accel, with additional investments from Salesforce Ventures and several other leading firms

We received the following commentary about the Sisu funding mentioned above:

“When we talk about data, it’s all about insights—if information isn’t usable by end-users, if they can’t actually make decisions based on their data—then access to that data is meaningless,” commented Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense. “Whether it’s the recent Series B raise from Sisu, the multi-billion acquisitions of Tableau and Looker, or the success we’re seeing at Sisense after the addition of Periscope Data, one thing remains abundantly clear—the market for companies that help enterprises understand and take action based on their data will only continue to grow.”

In M&A activity we heard … Chicago-based AHEAD and Atlanta-based Data Blue, both leading providers of digital infrastructure to large enterprises, today announced an agreement to merge their two companies, plus acquire Sovereign Systems, also of Atlanta. All three firms specialize in modernizing digital business infrastructure and assisting enterprise clients in their transitions to cloud computing, but they bring complementary strengths to the merger. AHEAD will bring consulting and implementation expertise in areas of enterprise service management, DevOps, monitoring and analytics, and security; while Data Blue adds managed services and deep networking expertise. The acquisition of Sovereign Systems will inject cloud, VMware, and ServiceNow expertise into Data Blue’s client-facing operations … Thrive Global, the leading behavior change technology company founded by Arianna Huffington in November 2016, announced the acquisition of Boundless Mind, the neuroscience-based artificial intelligence company and leader in behavioral design and engineering. The acquisition furthers Thrive Global’s commitment to building the leading behavior change technology platform that leverages data collection and the application of the latest science to end the stress and burnout epidemic and help individuals and organizations unlock their full potential. Since its launch in 2016, Thrive Global has worked with some of the top employers and brands in the world – including Accenture, JPMorgan, Hilton, Bank of America and Procter & Gamble – to bring behavior change technology, content and people experience programs to employees and consumers to improve their well-being and performance. Earlier this month, Thrive announced a partnership with Stanford Medicine that combines Stanford’s research with Thrive’s behavior change expertise into a digital enterprise program designed to help companies unlock better mental health. Stanford researchers have also lent their expertise to a program to help parents navigate their journey with less stress and more joy.

In people movement news we learned … TIBCO Software Inc., a global leader in integration, API management, and analytics, announced the appointment of Jeffrey Hess as its senior vice president of customer excellence. Hess will drive the transformation of the company’s customer engagement, expanding adoption of the TIBCO® Connected Intelligence Cloud platform. Hess’ experience in customer success spans more than two decades. He has successfully led teams at enterprise software companies, including SAP and BMC Software, by aligning go-to-market strategies to create differentiated and unique experiences for customers. Most recently, as the senior vice president of worldwide pre-sales and customer experience at BMC Software, Hess developed a modernized end-to-end customer experience and created a unified, high-performing global organization to support all critical go-to-market activities … Keboola, the leading data innovation platform, announces the appointment of Tereza Nemessanyi as SVP of Enterprise Growth and Chief Revenue Officer. In this newly created role, Ms. Nemessanyi will be leading Keboola’s entry into the North American enterprise segment, as well as standing up key strategic partnerships, including Microsoft. Until recently, she was Director of Partnerships and Strategy at Microsoft Commercial Software Engineering, supporting elite open source software engineers and top global customers and developer partners as they rapidly stand up pilots in the cloud for advanced scenarios including AI, machine learning, IOT and blockchain. Earlier, she led Microsoft’s partnerships with top technology accelerators and startups in the eastern U.S. and Canada. There she drove high-value pilots between high-growth Azure startups and large enterprise digital transformation initiatives in financial services, retail, and media … Databricks, a leader in unified data analytics, announced the appointment of Dave Conte as Chief Financial Officer, effective immediately. In his role, Conte will report directly to co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Ali Ghodsi and lead all of the financial and operational functions at the company. Conte brings extensive experience most recently from Splunk and Opsware after starting his career at Ernst & Young … MariaDB® Corporation announced that Sameer Tiwari has joined the company’s growing cloud team as CTO of Cloud Infrastructure. Previously at Salesforce where he architected storage and cloud migration strategies, Tiwari is now responsible for driving the architecture and differentiation of MariaDB’s cloud solutions … Humanyze, a leader in organizational analytics, announced that the next stage in its business development will be led by newly appointed CEO, Ellen Nussbaum. In this role, Nussbaum will drive the company vision forward and plans to refine Humanyze’s go-to-market strategy to empower companies to make informed decisions using data analytics and uncover their employee collaboration story. Co-founder Ben Waber will remain in a leadership role as President, focusing on long-term strategy, industry education about the many business applications of Organizational Network Analysis (“ONA”) …OnScale, a leader in cloud engineering simulation, announced that it has named David Freed, PhD, as the startup company’s new CTO. Freed is an MIT-trained “Digital Physicist” and an expert in engineering simulation and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

In the new partnerships, collaborations and alignments department we learned … Leading Enterprise Artificial Intelligence® provider, Noodle.ai, and SSAB Americas, the North American division of leading global steel manufacturer SSAB, have announced plans to deploy artificial intelligence throughout elements of the company’s steel manufacturing process in its U.S. operations. SSAB develops high-strength steels and provides services for enhanced performance and sustainability to ultimately make end products lighter, stronger and more durable. Through its cost-efficient and flexible production system, SSAB Americas’ plants in the U.S. have an annual steel production capacity of nearly 2.5 million tons. To improve efficiency in SSAB’s U.S. operations, Noodle.ai will focus on applying its Enterprise AI® Applications to enable probabilistic, pattern-based decisions, rather than deterministic, rules-based decision making … ZestFinance, a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) software for credit, announced its integration with MeridianLink®, a leading financial industry multichannel loan and new account origination platform. MeridianLink will be integrating Zest Automated Machine Learning (ZAML) credit scoring directly to its LoansPQ platform, providing MeridianLink clients the ability to access advanced machine learning for lending. Machine learning underwriting uses thousands of credit signals to make more accurate and profitable credit decisions than traditional methods, resulting in more good loans and fewer bad ones. On average, Zest customers see a 15% increase in approval rates without increasing losses, as well as increases in booked loans due to more competitive, risk-based pricing. Machine learning models are especially good at safely increasing approval rates for traditionally underserved segments. One auto lender used Zest to increase approvals for millennials by 25% … Diyotta, Inc., an enterprise-class, serverless data integration platform for modern data environments, announced that it is joining with Splice Machine’s industry-leading hybrid RDBMS to accelerate data integration for the Clearsense® healthcare data analytics platform. Clearsense chose Splice Machine’s unified RDBMS, data warehouse, and machine learning management platform to give healthcare customers faster access to high performance data analytics. Adding Diyotta’s data integration capabilities to the platform ensures the data moves quickly, securely, and seamlessly from source systems to Splice Machine, transforms the data using Splice Machine capabilities, and feeds data to machine learning and artificial intelligence applications … StreamSets®, provider of the DataOps platform, announced a partnership with Databricks, a leader in unified data analytics, to empower data teams with rapid, no-code development using Apache Spark and Delta Lake for modern analytics and data science at scale. The joint solution of the StreamSets DataOps Platform and Delta Lake on Databricks helps organizations apply a DataOps mentality to their critical data science and advanced analytics projects. Specifically, the StreamSets DataOps Platform makes it easy to ingest, integrate and monitor data moving into Databricks by mitigating data drift and operationalizing the process through its full life cycle. As a result, the Databricks customer has more operational control, greater visibility and deeper insights into data — all within a single, highly integrated solution. Further, given StreamSets Transformer’s unique, Spark-native approach to data processing, even Spark non-experts can benefit from the power of Databricks. With the combined approach, the two companies are enabling more data to be delivered faster to drive analytics … Logi has recently partnered with Conservation International in order to use analytics to bring the attention of the Amazon fires directly to policy and change-makers around the world. Together, they have built a real-time interactive analytics dashboard, powered by Logi, to track where the fires are, how they’re progressing, how they compare to past years, and what everyday people can do about it. Why does it matter? While the media has brought awareness to the fires, there is more to the story. We’re fast-approaching what’s called the “Amazon Tipping Point.” Up to 20% of Amazon forests are already gone, and if this reaches 25-30%, the entire biome of that region will be permanently changed, with climate ramifications across the world. Here is a the link to the dashboard, which brings instant access to real-time data that’s easily understandable so that the people and change-makers around the globe can act now … GoodData®, a leader in end-to-end analytics solutions, announced it is now leveraging Amazon Redshift, a cloud data warehouse by Amazon Web Services (AWS). In addition, the combination of GoodData and Amazon Redshift can change the way in which enterprise and product teams are making business decisions. Namely, the trend toward integrating analytics into business applications so every customer, partner, and team member becomes empowered with data and insights at the point of work. Delivering end-to-end analytics solutions to every user across one’s business presents many challenges, such as the need to compute insights with low latency at high user concurrency, handling large data volumes, and keeping overall solution costs for development and operations low. At the same time, these solutions must deliver a user experience that is intuitive for those who are data-savvy as well as those who are not. The combination of GoodData’s powerful end-to-end analytics platform and Amazon Redshift can overcome the bulk of the challenges associated with delivering analytics solutions to masses.

In new customer wins, we found out … Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced that Porsche Informatik, Porsche Holding Salzburg’s (PHS) in-house IT service provider, has selected HPE as the digital foundation that powers PHS innovation agenda. Porsche Informatik leverages the as a Service and composable offerings from HPE to increase agility, reduce cost and complexity, and deliver a cloud experience that better serves PHS global community of employees, dealers and customers … Qumulo, a leading provider of enterprise-proven hybrid cloud file storage, announced that pioneering visual effects (VFX) studio Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (MARZ) has selected Qumulo’s distributed file system for its ultra-fast performance, high availability, and scalable capacity. Qumulo’s software will enable MARZ to better meet its extremely aggressive post-production timelines by accelerating GPU rendering speeds for VFX projects and by providing real-time visibility into storage capacity and usage … TigerGraph, the scalable graph database for the enterprise, announced that Pagantis, a point of sale consumer finance platform for ecommerce in Europe, has chosen TigerGraph to streamline its customer experience. The move enables Pagantis to speed up its real-time risk-scoring and fraud prevention processes and reduce wait times on its application.

And finally, Amazon recently announced their consumer business is making the move from Oracle databases to AWS. This includes 75 petabytes of data being transferred across multiple AWS platforms. We received the following commentaries about this news:

“The migration effort by Amazon to transfer consumer business data out of Oracle and into Amazon owned services, Aurora and RDS, shows a strong shift in platforms putting forth cost-effective licensing strategies that root from leading databases the software is based on,” commented Heikki Nousiainen, CTO at Aiven. “PostgreSQL and MySQL are data management solutions portraying mature technology and system adaptability. The shift to modern managed databases presents significant operational efficiency and can be seen as a solid validation of open source capabilities.”

“AWS’s final move off of Oracle marks the end of a multi-year project. The move demonstrates the maturity and scalability of AWS’s Aurora and RDS services,” commented Unitas Global CTO and Co-Founder, Grant Kirkwood VP of Cloud Architecture. “While AWS  has topped the cloud market for several years, the provider is now strong enough to replace Oracle’s infrastructure for their consumer cloud. With Aurora driving growth for AWS, they are likely to keep driving innovation in the cloud market.” 

2020 Trends/2019 Year-in-Review

“Intelligence Everywhere: AI and ML will continue its push into every facet of our data management value chain to optimize, speed up and improve the quality of data delivered,” commented data prep leader Paxata. “In the case of data preparation automated data preparation jobs will be created automatically based on data ingested to speed up the data preparation tasks event further. With embedded AI and continuous learning through ML, the data prep process can eventually become unsupervised or at minimum can automatically adjust existing data preparation jobs based on changing data formats ingested. Widely embedded intelligence will also expand the deployment to less technical users while still delivering accurate and great quality data for their own needs.

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