Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Mortar Data, Hadoop for the Rest of Us, Gets Seed Funding

Big Data, the buzzword of the moment that’s intended to convey the notion that there is useful knowledge lying untapped in mountains of otherwise workaday information, is something that big companies are beginning to embrace in a, well, big way.

One way they often do this is by installing a system running Hadoop. This is the open source tool that evolved out of work done by Google and Yahoo, and basically takes big blocks of data and makes analyzing it a manageable process. The creation of a thriving business environment around Hadoop, which by itself is freely available, has attracted mountains of venture capital funding to start-ups such as Cloudera and Hortonworks.

Add another Hadoop player to the pile. Today, Mortar Data, a company devoted to making Hadoop easier to use, will announce a round of seed funding. Usually I don’t pay much attention to companies at the seed stage but in this case I made an exception, in part because the lineup of investors is so interesting. The lead investors are Chris Lynch, the former CEO of Vertica who left his job at Hewlett-Packard last month, and TechStars, the noted start-up accelerator, which is also a customer.

Other investors are Atlas Ventures, Genacast Ventures, and Great Oaks Ventures as well as Brightcove founder and CTO Bob Mason, and Matt Turck, managing director of Bloomberg Ventures, the venture capital arm of Bloomberg LP, the financial data and media concern. The precise amount of the funding hasn’t been disclosed.

As widely used as Hadoop is, it requires a lot of specialized knowledge, says K Young, Mortar’s CEO. Mortar’s secret is to use the Python programming language and Apache Pig, running on cloud infrastructure. The combination makes working with Hadoop a lot more accessible to people with more generalized programming knowledge. It’s not all that different from SQL. Easy enough that Vertica has said it will offer Mortar’s solution to its clients. That makes Mortar Data worth watching.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”