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“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 10/7/2019

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.

Busy, busy times for data scientists! It’s the new Fall academic quarter and I just started teaching my “Intro to Data Science” class at UCLA. What fun!

Let’s start off with some new M&A news … Alteryx, Inc. (NYSE: AYX), revolutionizing business through data science and analytics, announced that it has acquired Feature Labs, a data science software company launched out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that automates feature engineering for machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. The acquisition of Feature Labs will further enable Alteryx to help organizations empower every data worker to fill the data science and machine learning talent gap. Alteryx puts insights from advanced analytics and machine learning—once only available to statisticians and quants—into the hands of more data workers across the enterprise. “Gartner predicts that, by 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated, resulting in increased productivity and broader use by citizen data scientists … ” DDN®, a leader in AI and multicloud data management, announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) that includes an agreement to acquire Western Digital’s IntelliFlashTM business. Additionally, the companies will expand their existing relationship through a mutual global strategic sourcing agreement. DDN and Western Digital are committed to executing a smooth transition for customers and key stakeholders. Building on its decades-long foundation in the most demanding data environments, DDN has greatly expanded its business over the past 12 months by acquiring market leading enterprise and multicloud technologies. This latest acquisition of IntelliFlash extends DDN’s leadership as a value-add provider of AI and multicloud data management solutions. The strategic partnership also expands the relationship between DDN and Western Digital, enabling increasingly compelling storage solutions with new performance and cost innovations … Idera, Inc., parent company of global B2B software productivity brands, announced an agreement to acquire the software assets and related entities of WhereScape Software LTD., a leading provider of data infrastructure automation software. WhereScape will join Idera, Inc.’s Database Tools business unit that includes IDERA, AquaFold, and Webyog, significantly expanding the breadth and depth of the company’s cross-platform database solutions.

In new funding news we heard … TigerGraph, the scalable graph database for the enterprise, announced the general availability of TigerGraph Cloud, the native graph database-as-a-service, as well as $32 million in Series B funding. The investment, led by SIG, will boost TigerGraph’s global expansion, fueled by TigerGraph Cloud and its massive appeal to companies seeking a fast, easy way to harness the power of the graph, in a market estimated to be more than $6 billion in 2022 … Fivetran, whose automated data integration technology helps analysts centralize data into cloud warehouses, announced $44 million in Series B financing. The round, led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), includes participation from existing investors Matrix Partners and CEAS Investments. Martin Casado, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, will join the company’s board of directors … SnapLogic, provider of an Intelligent Integration Platform, announced that it has raised $72 million in growth financing to bolster its market leadership and accelerate global expansion. The new round was led by Arrowroot Capital, a leading US growth equity firm specializing in B2B SaaS, and joined by Golub Capital and existing investors … ReFirm Labs, a provider of IoT and firmware security solutions, announced the closing of a Pre-A round of $2 million in funding. The investment will be focused on accelerating new product development and expanding the company’s sales and marketing operations. The round is led by cybersecurity venture studio DataTribe and accredited investment group New Dominion Angels, with participation from TEDCO and Tysons Angel Investors.

In the people movement category we learned … TIBCO Software Inc., a leader in integration, API management, and analytics, announced that Fred Studer has been appointed its new chief marketing officer. Studer will lead TIBCO’s worldwide marketing, executing on TIBCO’s mission to connect any application, device or data source; unify all data for better access, trust, and control; and augment intelligence with data-driven insights. Studer has a distinguished career in marketing, creative, and product management, with more than 25 years in the high tech industry. Previously, as the chief marketing officer of FinancialForce, he led the modernization of the brand, defined a targeted go-to-market model, and helped to dramatically improve marketing ROI and efficiency. As part of the executive leadership team, Studer also helped redefine strategies, business models, and customer engagement … AppZen, a leading AI platform for modern finance teams, announced that Debashis Saha is joining the company as Vice President of Engineering. Debashis will be responsible for leading the company’s engineering, infrastructure and operations as they relate to AppZen’s products and AI platform. He will join the Executive Leadership team at AppZen … Scale Computing, a market leader in edge computing, virtualization and hyperconverged solutions, announced an update to its senior executive team with the promotion of Scott Loughmiller to the role of Chief Product Officer (CPO). Fueled by the growth of both the edge computing market and the desire to bring automation to IT systems, Scale Computing’s appointment of Loughmiller as CPO is part of the company’s plans to drive substantial growth heading into 2020 and beyond. As a co-founder of Scale Computing, Loughmiller has served as the company’s vice president of engineering since 2007. The promotion to CPO enables Scale Computing to further benefit from Loughmiller’s considerable industry-defining experience, as he leads the product team during a time of high-growth and strong business momentum.

We also heard of a number of new partnerships, alignments, and collaborations … Samasource, a leader in providing secure, high-quality training data for AI technologies, announces new collaborative partnerships with Partnership on AI (PAI) and Mila. Through these partnerships, Samasource joins leading researchers, civil society organizations, companies and communities using AI to emphasize its commitment to grow the AI industry … Databricks, a leader in Unified Data Analytics, announced a partnership with Tableau Software, a leading visual analytics platform, to enable data teams to run business intelligence on data lakes faster and more reliably. Data lakes are frequently the largest source of data within organizations, but user analytics directly on the data lake often suffers from poor quality data and performance challenges. The new Databricks Connector, just released in version Tableau 2019.3, is optimized for performance and leverages integration with Delta Lake, an open source storage layer that makes existing data lakes reliable at scale. Through this integration, Tableau users can now access and analyze massive datasets across the entire data lake with the most up-to-date and real-time data … – Geotab, a leader in IoT and connected transportation, announced the availability of the Geotab Integrated Solution for Ford Vehicles. Integrating Ford vehicle data into the MyGeotab platform, fleet managers gain access to one dedicated portal with powerful tools that can process data from vehicles with an embedded modem as well as those which require a third-party device. Through this integration, Ford Data ServicesTM will securely transfer data from Ford vehicles with a factory installed modem (or Ford Plug-In Modem, where required) to Geotab’s cloud environment, eliminating the need for third-party hardware in Ford vehicles. Simplifying the task of mixed-fleet management, the latest solution from Ford and Geotab provides fleet managers with the ability to oversee their entire fleet in one portal while also presenting the added benefit of access to the Geotab Marketplace, a portfolio of mobile apps, hardware Add-Ons and software Add-Ins that enable Geotab customers to further customize their fleet management solution … Sutherland, a digital transformation company, announced a strategic partnership with Augment CXM, the provider of AI-powered management tools for contact centers, to deliver Sutherland CXi, an AI-driven solution that can observe patterns, predict outcomes and provide real-time guidance to enhance customer–agent interactions. With the partnership, Sutherland will be providing its global customers with a layer of AI and machine learning capability that will drastically impact experiences for customers, customer service (CS) agents and operations managers. Under the joint solution, the application scans in real-time every agent–customer interaction across channels and predicts which interactions have the probability of leading to negative outcomes. In addition, it provides learnings from similar interactions and feeds tips and insights so the agent can select the best possible path for the customer and the client … Topcoder, the technology talent network and digital crowdsourcing platform, will join as a 2019 – 2020 partner with SpaceNet®, a nonprofit dedicated to accelerating open source, artificial intelligence (AI) applied research for geospatial applications. This partnership will accelerate SpaceNet’s ability to leverage the global 1.5M member Topcoder Community for increased accuracy and speed in advanced data science and machine learning application development. Topcoder has hosted data science and AI development challenges for SpaceNet since 2016 that have produced highly sophisticated algorithmic solutions to consumer, business and environmental issues on an international scale. Topcoder joins others in the SpaceNet Partner Program, including: In-Q-Tel’s (IQT) CosmiQ Works, Maxar Technologies, Intel AI, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Capella Space … Affinity, a leading relationship intelligence platform, announced it has partnered with PitchBook, a premier data provider for the private and public equity markets, to integrate a new layer of data into its platform. Affinity customers will now be able to access PitchBook data on venture capital, private equity, M&A and public companies from directly within the Affinity platform … Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) and the University of Oxford announced a two-year collaboration to advance the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and classify consumer packaged goods (CPG) products on shelves in retail stores. Facilitated between Nielsen’s Image Recognition group and the Visual Geometry Group (VGG) at the University of Oxford, this partnership brings together the world’s largest pool of product reference data with industry-leading brainpower around AI technology to yield greater accuracy in product identification and discovery. Through this partnership, Nielsen is working directly with University of Oxford Professors Andrew Zisserman and Andrea Vedaldi (Department of Engineering Science), world-renowned computer scientists and pioneers in image recognition and AI research. Zisserman, Vedaldi and their team of research scientists will work together with Nielsen to more precisely and quickly identify and classify in-store products based on product images captured through Nielsen’s eCollection solution. The Oxford researchers will focus on building and enhancing the eCollection algorithms with increasingly advanced deep learning capabilities, enabling a more automatic detection of store products, promotions and prices without the need for manual intervention … Syncfusion, Inc. is partnering with CData Software in an effort to coordinate the power of Syncfusion’s business intelligence dashboard platform, Bold BI, with CData Software’s data integration service, Cloud Hub, resulting in a dashboard platform that can connect to dozens of different data sources via a SQL interface … Hazelcast, a leading in-memory computing platform that delivers the System of Now™, announced a strategic co-engineering and co-innovation collaboration with Intel to accelerate the performance of real-time applications, artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) solutions for enterprises. At the center of this initiative is Project Veyron, which is focused on accelerating Hazelcast technologies on Intel platforms, including the 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor and Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory.

We also learned of a new customer win … WekaIO, a leader in high-performance, scalable file storage for data-intensive applications, announced that Aiden Lab at the Baylor College of Medicine, a leading genome research facility, has selected the Weka File System (WekaFS™) to accelerate its genomics research. Aiden Lab chose WekaFS to improve application performance and storage efficiency, and it was the only file system that could accelerate I/O operations in its GPU cluster.

And finally, we received a comment about the IPO and M&A climate in our industry:

Nine of the top 10 IPOs over the past year and change have been enterprise software companies, and data companies, in particular, are experiencing a renaissance,” commented Sisense CEO, Amir Orad. “Whether it’s the recent Tableau and Looker acquisitions, or the successful DataDog IPO, one underlying theme is abundantly clear—we’re able to gather and operationalize data from more places than ever before. The companies that are seizing upon that trend with a unique offering are having huge M&A and IPO successes, and I fully expect this trend to continue.

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