“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 6/12/2019

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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.

Whew! We always knew the big data industry was exciting and dynamic, but this past week was something special … M&A activity galore. See below for commentaries on the Tableau and Looker acquisitions.

Let’s start off with some new funding news … Matillion, a leading provider of data transformation software for cloud data warehouses (CDWs), announced a $35 million round of funding. The investment will allow Matillion to capitalize on its leading category position while continuing to deliver accelerated growth, and extend the capabilities of its flagship product line, Matillion ETL. Battery Ventures led the round, bringing Matillion’s total funding to-date to $60 million. Existing investors, Sapphire Ventures and Scale Venture Partners also participated … NC-based Fluree announced $4.7M in seed funding led by 4490 Ventures with participation from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. Fluree’s data management approach focuses on immutability, data integrity and joining disparate data sets dynamically through its semantic graph technology. It allows developers to quickly create more powerful and secure applications while solving challenging data management problems like ‘race’ conditions, reproducible data state and scalability. Fluree enables Time Travel — traversing time both forwards and backwards, Fluree allows both instant historical queries and native functionality for future-state queries … Amadeus Code, the AI songwriting assistant, has received 200M JPY (approximately $1.8 M US) to support the development of its AI music generation platform. This Series A round is led by VC firm World Innovation Lab. WiL’s Masataka Matsumoto will join Amadeus Code’s board … Cien Inc., a fast-growing provider of AI-powered sales productivity solutions, announced the completion of a seed round totaling $3.5M, $1.2 million of which was provided by Elaia, with follow on from the founders and private investors. The new round provides Cien with additional resources to continue building its market presence in North America. In partnership with Salesforce.com, Cien helps B2B companies improve the effectiveness of their sales teams by applying artificial intelligence to their CRM data, without the need for building and hiring dedicated data-science teams … Pitstop, a prognostics platform for predicting vehicle failures before they happen, announced $1.5 million in seed financing as well as a pilot test program with leading automotive supplier and intelligent transportation technology company, Continental. The funding round was led by Toronto-based VC fund Ripple Ventures with participation from WorldQuant Ventures, Hike VC, OCE, and MD from Clairvest Michael Castellarin. The program combines capabilities of the Pitstop Data Engine and the Continental Remote Vehicle Data (RVD) Platform to provide real-time, actionable insights to the automotive industry, including the aftermarket, through a dashboard and mobile application. The combined data and prognostics tool can predict failures, prevent inefficiencies and reduce maintenance costs faced by the automotive industry.

In people movement news we learned … Kinetica, a leading Active Analytics Platform for the extreme data economy, announced the appointment of Elizabeth McGlauflin as Chief Customer Success Officer (CCSO). The hire further establishes Kinetica as a customer-first company experiencing hyper-growth and helps accelerate adoption of NVIDIA GPUs.

In the new customer wins category, we heard … SnapLogic, the Intelligent Integration Platform provider, has saved Thayer Distribution considerable time, money, and resources by speeding up the process of integrating business-critical data 10X faster. These efficiency and productivity gains were achieved following the deployment of SnapLogic’s AI-powered, self-driving integration solution, enhancing Thayer’s data management capabilities, supply chain processes, and competitive market position … Cray Inc. (Nasdaq:CRAY) announced that Indiana University has selected a Cray Shasta™ supercomputing system to advance the use of artificial intelligence (AI) across diverse research fields at the university and for the state of Indiana. Indiana University will be the first university to deploy a Shasta system, the Cray Slingshot™ interconnect and Cray Urika® AI Suite for Shasta, providing its engineers, researchers and scientists powerful resources for the next era of computing. Named “Big Red 200,” the new supercomputer will be instrumental in the University’s exploration and advancement of AI in education, cybersecurity, medicine, environmental science and more … Nexenta by DDN (Nexenta), a leader in Software Defined Storage (SDS) for 5G and Internet of Things (IoT), announced SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, the largest automobile giant in China and number-36 on Fortune’s Global 500 list, has deployed Nexenta by DDN’s hybrid and multicloud storage software. Chosen to power next-generation initiatives including SAIC’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Self-Driving Car R&D Platform and Internet Cloud Center, the deployment size measures to tens of PB and enables SAIC Motor to dramatically improve efficiency, resiliency and flexibility across multiple areas of business.

We also learned of some new partnerships, alignments and collaborations … Enterprises in every industry have been embarking on a major transition toward the cloud. In order to help organizations further their cloud strategy, ThoughtSpot, a leader in search and AI-driven analytics, launched Embrace as part of a partnership with Snowflake, the data warehouse built for the cloud, to enable enterprises to run search and AI-driven analytical workloads directly in existing databases without the need to move or cache any data. Embrace will be available for Snowflake, with plans to extend support for Embrace to additional data sources in the future … VoltDB, the enterprise-class database that powers real-time intelligent decisions on streaming data, announced that it has been selected by financial information services company, QUICK Corp., to support its real-time news service for enhanced financial and security market decision making. VoltDB enables QUICK Corp. customers to access the most up-to-date international news pertaining to equities, fixed income, foreign exchange, commodities and more, at unprecedented speeds, enabling them to make more accurate and timely financial and security decisions. QUICK Corp. delivers enormous volumes of global financial and economic information for precise decision making among the investor community. The search function for its news service involves full-text and tag search across a large range of keyword data. VoltDB’s guaranteed speed and consistency enables the financial information service platform to respond quickly and accurately to each and every search, regardless of the volume or demand … HVR, provider of real-time cloud data replication technology, has announced a partnership with Snowflake Inc., the data warehouse built for the cloud. Together, HVR’s replication solution and Snowflake’s built-for-the cloud data warehouse give organizations a competitive and operational advantage, enabling them to better leverage their data, while removing the need for a massive and costly on-premise infrastructure. HVR allows customers to perform continuous high volume, real-time data replication for efficient, secure data integration from a variety of cloud-based and on-premise sources, such as Oracle, SQL Server, SAP HANA, Db2 for z/OS, and others, into Snowflake’s modern cloud-based data warehouse.

And finally in new M&A news we heard … Logi Analytics, Inc. (“Logi”) announced the acquisition of Zoomdata, the leading analytics platform for big data and live streaming data. The acquisition comes three months after Logi acquired JReport for pixel-perfect operational reporting. The combination solidifies Logi’s position as the leader in embedded analytics, now with the richest suite of capabilities and a global partner network … Google LLC announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Looker, a unified platform for business intelligence, data applications and embedded analytics, in a $2.6 billion all-cash transaction. Upon the close of the acquisition, Looker will join Google Cloud. Data remains an untapped resource for many organizations and businesses. The addition of Looker to Google Cloud will provide customers with a more comprehensive analytics solution — from ingesting and integrating data to gain insights, to embedded analytics and visualizations — enabling enterprises to leverage the power of analytics, machine learning and AI.

We received the following commentaries from members of the big data ecosystem about the Google acquisition of Looker:

“The purchase of Looker is Google’s latest effort to catch up to cloud-data powerhouses like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft. By acquiring Looker, Google aims to create a cohesive data product and strategy to strengthen their GCP offering, a product that has consistently lost to AWS and Azure,” said Sigma’s CEO & Co-founder Rob Woollen. “Integrating Looker, though — a product that wasn’t built for the cloud and runs on a proprietary data modeling language — feels like an odd way of achieving this goal. Unlike other successful, fast-growing enterprise startups to make headlines in recent memory (such as Workday, Veeva, and Slack), Looker fails to deliver what companies pay up for most these days: software that is flexible, easy to use, and quick to prove its value. It’s known for massive upfront investments, ongoing management costs, and months of set up and training before users can extract value. If Google is to close this gap and deliver a product its customers have come to expect, it has a lot of work to do. We’ve seen many big players like Google make acquisitions and then struggle to piece together a cohesive product strategy. Vendors like MapR, Hortonworks, and Cloudera have hit hard times for making the wrong investments at a time when companies are moving to a public, cloud-native world. Meanwhile, unsatisfied customers have raised concerns or failed to renew contracts over a lack of transparency and shifting product roadmaps. If Google isn’t careful, this move could backfire as customers become unsure of the road ahead. There are more ways this merger could fail than succeed, and Google has to get everything right to make it worth the $2.6 Billion it coughed up for Looker.”

“It’s the right step for Google—they want to provide analytics on top of their cloud environment,” said Sisense (who merged with Periscope Data in the last month) CEO, Amir Orad. “The industry is moving towards multi-cloud data analytics, and this acquisition does not account for that. On a broader level, even the biggest tch players are snapping up data analytics companies with big price tags. The value of the data analytics market can’t be ignored, and the $2.6B acquisition of Looker clearly demonstrates the value of these companies have in the larger cloud ecosystem.”

“I’m not actually that surprised that Google decided to acquire Looker,” said Ajeet Singh, Co-founder and Executive Chairman at ThoughtSpot. “Looker has done a great job helping developers and highly sophisticated technical talent get more value out of their data. Google’s acquisition of Looker clearly indicates the industry and businesses at large are ready for new ways to leverage their data beyond the data visualization paradigm set by the likes of Tableau and Qlik, are willing to spend real money to tap into these new capabilities. As a Google partner ourselves, I’m looking forward to continuing our work together to help non-technical business user get access to data using search & AI-driven analytics.”

We’ve also received commentaries about the Tableau acquisition by Salesforce:

“Those who have followed the analytics space closely shouldn’t be too surprised by Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau” commented Sudheesh Nair, CEO of ThoughtSpot. “Whenever there is a fundamental shift in how people access and use data, we’ve seen major consolidation. In the mid-2000s as data visualization was on the rise, we saw a huge wave of consolidation from the traditional report-driven BI players. IBM acquired Cognos, SAP acquired Business Objects, and Oracle acquired Hyperion. As we move beyond data visualization into a world powered by AI and Search, we’ll see more and more consolidation. Don’t expect companies whose signature differentiator was visualization to stay independent for long. Anyone in the analytics industry should be celebrating the rash of M&A in our space in the last few weeks. In our increasingly digital world, businesses in every industry have been clamoring for new ways to utilize data, and are they willing to spend real money trying to do so. With such large deals from both Google-Looker and Salesforce-Tableau deals, it’s clear there’s a huge opportunity for investors, too, if they’re willing to invest in the next wave of disruption driven by new technologies such as AI and Search. Data-driven personalization and customization has become the bedrock for modern businesses. Every technology provider, regardless of the space they are in, must offer data-driven insights if they want to provide real value to their customers. Both Google and Salesforce were making substantial bets to fill gaps in their existing offerings because they recognize the strategic imperative for data. It’s a smart move for both tech giants as they look to broaden their overall analytics capabilities. As the largest deal in Salesforce history, the acquisition of Tableau demonstrates the critical role that insights play in analytics. To put it in perspective, Salesforce spent $6.5B on Mulesoft, a highly innovative, modern technology company, for the critical work of plumbing different data sources together. Yet they spent more than twice that to acquire Tableau, whose core concept dates back the Stanford University labs’ Project Polaris back in the late 1990s. Salesforce recognizes that data is only as valuable as the insight you can unearth and take action on.”

“2019 is close to becoming a watershed moment in the analytics industry—every cloud provider is trying to have a local (and big!) data analytics offering—with Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau, along with our merger with Periscope Data, being yet another example of the enormous market opportunity for data and analytics companies,” said Sisense CEO, Amir Orad. “Data is the new oil, and data analytics is the way to drill, extract, and refine it, and we’re seeing wars for the oil now. Like Google’s acquisition last week, Salesforce’s acquisition here reduces the ability to work across various clouds, and only increases the importance of open platforms that can work in multi-cloud environments.”

“Today’s announcement of the acquisition of Tableau by Salesforce – hot on the heels of Google’s purchase of Looker last week – is yet another demonstration of how business intelligence and analytics is being recognized as a deeply strategic part of business,” commented Microstrategy. “BI is back in the boardroom. While the industry is likely to see more consolidation, new entrants, and new offerings, analytics continues to be integral for digital transformation no matter where companies are positioned along that journey.  It’s clear that both Salesforce and Google Cloud are very aware of the value that BI and analytics can bring. The real challenge for Salesforce and Google will be how quickly and smoothly they can integrate the acquired companies.  While they’re focused on the integration, there’s no doubt the rest of the industry will continue to focus on innovation and new customer acquisition.”

“This acquisition makes so much sense and is a major win for the industry, customers, and analytics users at large,” commented Satyen Sangani, CEO and Co-Founder, Alation. “There has long been chaos in the analytics ecosystem given the volume and scale of innovation over the last decade. Tableau, Mulesoft, and Salesforce will collectively help customers with some of their biggest challenges in integrating the data. As a partner of both Salesforce and Tableau with deep integrations with Salesforce Einstein Analytics and Tableau Server, we have seen that both companies are committed to building greater trust in analytics and bringing greater agility to self-service analytics.”

“Within a span of a week, Google and Salesforce made two major acquisitions for more than $18 billion dollars, Looker and Tableau respectively,” commended Paul Appleby, CEO of Kinetica. “Beyond the stratospheric deal sizes, what’s most significant here is the recognition by both titans that data has never been more important than it is right now in 2019. The ability to analyze and visualize vast amount of data has grown in appetite, because businesses are realizing that the key ingredient to their success is transforming data from a passive asset to an active asset at the heart of business transformation.”

“Salesforce’s $15.7 billion acquisition of Tableau and Google Cloud’s acquisition of Looker for $2.6 billion are a direct reaction to the torrid pace at which analytics workloads are being moved to the cloud,” commented Adam Wilson, CEO of Trifacta. “Machine learning, AI and analytics have become the primary growth opportunities for the cloud today and we will continue to see significant investments being made in these areas. Moving beyond these multi-billion data analytics transactions, what will be the next area of focus in the data industry? Companies that are solving critical pain points related to data preparation, data quality and data governance including Trifacta, Alteryx and Talend will be key players to keep an eye on as the data industry continues to grow exponentially and more workloads are moved to the cloud.”

“As a caring member of the Tableau community and a Zen Master, I am wondering what this acquisition will mean for us: the people, the community,” commended Eva Murray, Head of Business Intelligence and Tableau Evangelist at Exasol. “Tableau is a great tool, but what makes it truly exceptional is the people that love it, use it and help make it better. I hope that Salesforce understands that and protects the wonderful Tableau community. In my opinion, customers and power-users need to be looked after, and not come second-place behind shareholders. So, even though it may not be an obvious revenue generator, things like Tableau Public bring data and analytics closer to everyone and helps us Zen Masters and other power-users share the love for data analytics and visualizations, ultimately helping us grow the community and the Tableau fan-base. I also hope that the R&D and innovation that have made Tableau better and better over the years will not slow down or be re-prioritized. I would love to see Salesforce continue to invest in innovation and development of Tableau’s core product, and not take it down a CRM-only road”

“Tableau transformed the data visualization and exploration landscape, putting the power of self-service reporting and analytics for relational databases in the hands of the business users,” commended Dr. Yu Xu, CEO, TigerGraph. “Yesterday’s news of Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau is yet another proof that data management and visualization is undeniably one of the hottest markets in tech right now. The news is significant in that it’s the biggest consolidation of cloud-based apps and platforms thus far. We at TigerGraph are excited to see the cloud platforms, and intuitive business intelligence and analytics solutions, being integrated with the powerful combination of Salesforce and Tableau. We believe the next breakthrough in BI is to democratize graph analytics. TigerGraph is very much on track to be the next-gen of companies to further transform the data management industry with enterprise-scale graph analytics, combined with TigerGraph GraphStudio, our intuitive GUI used by customers such as Intuit, Zillow and Santa Clara County, for visualizing, traversing and analyzing the relationships in real-time with a graph database.”

“Transactions like this reinforce the importance of data-driven insights everywhere,” commented TIBCO’s CEO, Dan Streetman. “As an independent company, TIBCO delivers open, best-in-class analytics and data science. We help organizations turn data into innovation regardless of the application or cloud that holds the data. In the end, what’s important is that they’re able to connect everything, unify all their data in real time, and take faster smarter actions. TIBCO remains committed to our strategy of being an independent and trusted partner to Innovators around the globe.”

“The interest in Tableau is quite clear; Salesforce has owned a portion of an enterprise’s data for some time and as of late, established more of a presence in the application stack (see Mulesoft acquisition), commented Chris Lynch, CEO of AtScale. “Integrating the B.I. stack natively into Salesforce’s existing platform creates synergies across the board. Additionally, Salesforce has done well with larger acquisitions. Many would agree that innovation and development have skyrocketed in the months and years that have followed. There are a number of other assets within Salesforce that are synergistic, Einstein is one that comes to mind. With Einstein’s ability to embed A.I. capabilities within both Salesforce’s CRM data and now enterprise visualization, A.I. and Machine Learning suddenly become more mainstream for their shared customers.”

“Over the past decade, companies have implemented any number of SaaS-based enterprise systems,” commented Brian Keare, Field CIO of Incorta. “We have reached a point where the value propositions of these enterprise clouds is widely established. But what we are left with is companies with multiple disparate systems that are drowning in data. The vast majority of companies do not have the adequate tools to analyze large volumes of complex data and distill it into real-time, actionable insights. When companies try to tackle this challenge, they find that it is more difficult and more expensive to develop these analytics capabilities, and that the developed toolsets are relatively inflexible. For example, Google’s acquisition of Looker and Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau represent the attempt to simplify the process of analyzing complex data for customers. This also proves that companies are recognizing they don’t have solutions to manage the fire hose of complicated data – and they’re willing to throw big money around to solve this problem. This M&A activity validates that sophisticated data analytics, or “real-time operational intelligence,” as we hear companies try to define that term, is the next real frontier for companies seeking to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Technology companies have spent years and vast sums of money trying to develop BI tools and analytics platforms. Most efforts have fallen woefully short of their hopes and expectations.  Thus, those businesses that have been successful in developing analytics platform technology, and business models around them, now find themselves extremely attractive to would-be acquirers. And once a large player makes a big move in this space, of course competitors fear being left in the dust on this next frontier.”

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