“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 11/4/2019

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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.

Wow! What a busy couple of weeks down-in-the-trenches with the data science industry: teaching my “Intro to Data Science” class at UCLA, working on numous client projects, doing independent research, and somehow I found time to attend one of my favorite Meetups: LA West R Users to hear a couple of compelling presentations by two student groups on the UCLA campus that make good use of data – The Stack UCLA Bruin, and DataRes.

We’ll start off with some new funding news … Signal AI, a leading company transforming how executives make sense of the information explosion, has announced the successful completion of its Series C funding round of $25 million, bringing its total funding to date to $43M. This latest funding round is led by Redline Capital with participation from existing investors including MMC Ventures, GMG Ventures and Hearst Ventures. With roots in media monitoring and market intelligence, Signal AI will use this new capital to further branch out into new use cases, as well as accelerate its rapid growth in the US and cement its recent launch in the APAC market. With machine learning at its core, Signal AI’s market leading media monitoring and market intelligence offering provides an unparalleled view of the world’s news and regulatory data and ensures clients never miss key stories or data points that impact their business … IonQ, a leader in universal quantum computing, announced it has secured $55 million in a funding round led by the Samsung Catalyst Fund and Mubadala Capital. This round of funding brings IonQ’s total amount raised to $77 million. IonQ plans to use the funds announced today to make quantum computing more accessible to businesses and lower the barrier to entry for developers. The company plans on making its quantum computers commercially available via the cloud and developing next-generation systems for programming these machines. IonQ’s trapped-ion approach offers the most promise for making reliable, scalable quantum computing a reality. Recently, the company built the largest programmable quantum computer to date, demonstrating performance benchmarks that no other quantum computer has been able to match … Grafana Labs, the company behind open source projects including Grafana and Loki, announced $24 million in Series A funding. The round, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and with participation from Lead Edge Capital, will be used to further invest in the open source community and accelerate the creation of an open and composable observability platform with Grafana at the center … Datameer, maker of a leading data preparation and exploration solution Datameer X, announced additional funding to drive global adoption of Datameer X by the data science community and importantly to launch Neebo, a cloud-native self-service solution that will enable teams of analytics professionals and data scientists to create, discover, use, and share trusted assets in hybrid landscapes. Datameer recently closed a $40 million funding round to further extend its leadership position in the enterprise data preparation and exploration market, serve the ever growing AI market and to accelerate the development and market introduction of the disruptive Neebo solution. The round — which will help further build out global sales and engineering capabilities — was led by existing investor ST Telemedia (STT), with participation from long standing shareholders Redpoint Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Nextworld Capital, Citi Ventures and Top Tier Capital Partners … VoltDB, the enterprise-grade data platform that meets the real-time streaming data requirements of 5G-powered applications, announced $10 million in series C funding. With the investment, VoltDB will empower enterprise organizations across the globe to capitalize on 5G networks, enabling real-time decisions and accelerating data-driven digital transformations … dotData, the company focused on delivering full-cycle data science automation and operationalization for the enterprise, announced that it has raised $23 million in Series A funding, bringing the total amount of funding raised to date to $43 million. The Series A financing round was led by JAFCO with participation by Goldman Sachs, who both join existing dotData Seed round investors NEC Corporation. dotData will use the funds to further accelerate the company’s rapid growth by expanding sales and marketing efforts, and enhancing product development innovation of its full-cycle data science automation platform.

We also learned of a number of new partnerships, alignments and collaborations … Teradata (NYSE: TDC), the cloud analytics company delivering Pervasive Data Intelligence, and Deutsche Telekom, announced a strategic partnership at Digital X in Germany, where Oliver Ratzesberger, President and CEO at Teradata, and Hagen Rickmann, Director Business Customers at Telekom Deutschland, were presenting to an audience of 20,000. The partnership will support the digital transformation goals of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) in Germany, giving them access to the enormous potential of data analytics to provide the insights required for growth and innovation. By combining the strengths of Teradata and Deutsche Telekom, customers benefit from dual technology expertise and an end-to-end offering: Teradata contributes leading software for data analytics and decades of experience in data science and business consulting; Deutsche Telekom provides a comprehensive cloud ecosystem, demand-driven infrastructure, highly secure data centers, IT security and IoT solutions over the proven Telekom network … Domo (Nasdaq: DOMO) announced a partnership with Snowflake, the data warehouse built for the cloud, that enables joint customers the ability to go from insight to action in real-time with their data. Through a new native API integration and a go-to-market agreement, the partnership between the cloud companies will impact customers as they move more data to the cloud to leverage the flexibility, scalability and security it provides. Snowflake combines the power of data warehousing, the flexibility of big data platforms and the elasticity of the cloud at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions. Domo provides an easy-to-use cloud solution for helping customers connect and transform cross-departmental data, visualize and analyze it leveraging the power of data science and AI/ML technologies, and build apps and extend that data across the entire business to address a multitude of business challenges. Through this partnership, customers can use Domo’s iPaaS capabilities to manage their entire data ecosystem and easily bring additional sources of data from across the organization into Snowflake … SnapLogic, provider of the Intelligent Integration Platform, announced it has expanded its partnership with Databricks with new support for Delta Lake, the open source storage layer created by Databricks that brings reliability to traditional data lakes. Together, the joint solution helps customers accelerate the integration, transformation, and processing of big data workloads into Delta Lake, increasing data quality and accelerating the time to value of advanced analytics and machine learning initiatives … Spell and Weights & Biases have partnered up so teams can seamlessly run deep learning experiments on any hardware, and automatically view and analyze results in the Weights & Biases interface, streamlining deep learning development. Together, the platforms enable teams to overcome the hurdles of setting up and managing infrastructure and environments, tracking, visualizing, and reporting on deep learning projects.

In people movement news we heard … Sisense, a leading analytics platform for builders, announced that Brian Gumbel, formerly SVP of worldwide sales at Forescout, has joined as its new CRO to lead sales, pre-sales, sales operations, and sales engineering teams worldwide. Brian Robins, formerly CFO at Cylance and previously CFO at Verisign, has also joined Sisense as its CFO to lead the company’s finance, legal, and business operations teams. These veteran leaders have served in similar roles in public companies and multi-billion dollar private Saas companies and bring rich experience with them. Throughout their respective careers, both have been adept at guiding high-growth technology companies and teams to scale. They will report directly to CEO Amir Orad. Brian Gumbel brings over 20 years of sales leadership experience to Sisense. Brian joined Forescout when it was a $90M business, leading its revenue growth to more than quadruple in four years and after a successful public offering, to $400M. Prior to Forescout, Brian held sales leadership positions at Tanium and McAfee … The Board of Directors for Conversica, Inc., a leader in Intelligent Virtual Assistants for customer engagement, announced that Jim Kaskade has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Jim Kaskade brings a wealth of experience scaling companies and growing revenues, having led businesses ranging from $50M to $1B. Most recently he served as the CEO of Janrain, a customer identity and access management SaaS company serving the enterprise global 2000, which was acquired by Akamai Technologies in January 2019.

We also received a commentary on the rumor that Sumo Logic is in talks with JASK. Regarding this potential acquisition news, next-gen SIEM leader Exabeam offers what this means for the market overall. Exabeam is not surprised to see others seek entrance to the SIEM market—it’s a growing segment, ripe with disruption:

“We’re in the middle of a major disruption to the SIEM market. Customers are looking for a modern SIEM that is designed for big data, cloud deployment and machine learning to reduce the load on analysts. With that said, user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) and security automation and orchestration (SOAR) are table stakes and required functionality for leading vendors. Sumo Logic and JASK have neither. Simply combing their tech stacks will not add up to what the market needs,” says Nir Polak, co-founder and CEO of Exabeam. “Based on how rarely we see JASK or Sumo Logic compete against us for business, I can’t envision their combined company making any significant headway in the next-gen SIEM market. When you multiply a fraction by another fraction, you get an even smaller fraction. I don’t think this merger will be the force multiplier either company is hoping for. I think it’s ‘1 + 1 = 0’ with this acquisition. Neither player has a reputation among security customers for delivering on their promises. I can’t see organizations investing their limited budgets on zero-sum technology.”

We also received a commentary about the JEDI contract news. Chris Smith, VP of Cloud Architecture at Unitas Global commented:

“The JEDI cloud contract is a significant step forward for the DoD in migrating to next-generation technologies in order to gain the security, reliability, and efficiency needed to operate. The selection of Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform is a stand-out in terms of AI technology and the company’s increased focus on partnerships with other organizations over the past year to give customers access to a collaborative platform with a wider base of services and capabilities. The DoD’s technology migration will be one to watch as future phases incorporate dependent data and applications as well as secure high-performance network connectivity. The JEDI contract will propel Microsoft to the forefront of the cloud wars by allowing them to invest, innovate and execute on their continually growing public cloud environment.”

And finally an observation of industry events … Databricks is just one of the many companies making waves in the data analytics and business intelligence space (look no further than the acquisitions of Looker, Tableau and Periscope Data from earlier this year and Sisu’s $50M+ series B to come out of stealth), as the ability to derive action from data becomes an increasingly important commodity.Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense, on Databricks’ valuation news had the following observation:

“It seems like every week a data analytics company is being purchased or valued with a price tag in the billions. Similar to the multi-billion dollar acquisitions of Tableau and Looker, and the marriage of analytics and data science like Sisense acquisition of Periscope Data, Databricks’ recent $6B+ valuation is telling and so it its focus on analytics and data science—2019 is the beginning of the data dam breaking. For enterprises of all sizes, the bottom line is the ability to operationalize data, insights and take meaningful action from that information—which, for many, can mean advanced data science and analytics. I am not surprised by Databricks’ valuation, and I’m confident this won’t be the last large number we see associated with the data analytics market.”

2020 Trends/2019 Year-in-Review

“Consumers now expect interactions with brands to be on their terms and full of personalized experiences,” commented Laetitia Cailleteau, UKI Emerging Tech & AI Lead, Conversational AI Global Lead, and a Founder of Accenture’s London Liquid Studios. “Conversational AI will help companies deliver on this expectation by offering businesses new means to interact with their consumers (such as voice AI or messaging) in human-centered ways . These conversations can use predictive technics, tone analysis and intonation of speech to help define the meaning and intent of speakers accurately – enabling relevant real time service in consumer channel of choice.”

“2019 revealed that highly specialized applications of AI geared toward industry-specific problems are hot commodities,” commented Atos North America’s Head of AI Lab Tatianna Flores. “Tesla acquired a company that focuses exclusively on object recognition, and McDonalds acquired a speech recognition company focused on languages. In the coming year, we’ll see even greater competition to improve performance in these popular and specialized applications of AI. Products will need to integrate reinforcement learning to constantly improve deep learning applications and stay ahead of their competition. Also, movement toward wide-scale data sharing will occur more rapidly.”

“Smart Cities Will Spurn New Legislation Surrounding the Use of IoT. The Internet of Things (IoT) for ‘smart cities’ could have disastrous consequences, leading to legislation surrounding the usage of IoT devices,” commented Derek Brost, Director, Professional Services – Security at InterVision. “Anything connected to the Internet – especially cameras – are perennial targets for hacking. And these attacks have already been originating from overseas with the intent to weaponize the technology and launch more attacks in-turn. It’s not a far mental leap to imagine how foreign countries could use IoT devices for spying and attacking citizens. Worse, even after vulnerabilities are discovered, the manufacturers may not own the responsibility to fix it, necessitating either a lengthy revamp of the infrastructure with an eye for privacy protections or a complete rip-and-replace from a more security-minded manufacturer.”

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