Enterprise

Big Data Start-Up Platfora Lands $5.7 Million From Andreessen Horowitz

Published on September 8, 2011
by Arik Hesseldahl

We hear a lot these days about big data, which is kind of a code for the notion that nestled within all the seemingly useless information that a business generates in the course of its normal operations, there are useful, discernable patterns that can help a business over time learn do things better.

It’s a sound idea, and lots of companies large and small have made various interesting plays around it. The biggest is probably IBM, which loves to tell and re-tell its many data analytics success stories. There’s also been a lot of start-up activity around it with companies like GoodData and Domo getting lots of funding.

Many companies are turning to Hadoop, the open source version of Google’s MapReduce technology, which takes large sets of data and makes them manageable. Facebook, Groupon and AOL are three high-profile examples. And there’s such an opportunity seen around Hadoop that the number of companies offering their own distribution of it are multiplying.

Data’s great to have, but its hard to do anything with it if you can’t understand what it’s telling you. That’s where Platfora, a start-up launched by Ben Werther, a former Greenplum exec, aims to come into the picture.

Until today, Platfora has been operating in stealth mode, but it announced that it had landed a $5.7 million A round led by Andreessen Horowitz. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital arm, is also joining the round. Scott Weiss, AH’s general partner, is joining Platfora’s board. Weiss blogged about the deal on Ben Horowitz’s blog today.

The point of Platfora is to take the big batches of data that live in Hadoop and turn them into beautiful graphical representations that are easy to interpret and understand. I talked with Werther yesterday. “The last generation of business intelligence products served a good purpose, but as the amount of data has grown, the traditional systems have been struggling to keep up,” he told me. That’s why they’ve been turning to Hadoop. But Hadoop is only half of the solution. “Hadoop really only gives you the plumbing,” he says.

Platfora is intended to work with existing clusters of machines running Hadoop, including Cloudera, MapR, and Amazon EMR. Questions and queries posed to the data get transformed into visually clear dashboards and insights.

Weiss, writing on Horowitz’s blog, said that Hadoop needs a business intelligence platform that will make it user-friendly to people other than software developers, and that the established players aren’t up to the task. “The legacy BI vendors don’t have the product architecture for Hadoop or Big Data and we believe this opens the door for a new franchise to be built,” he wrote.

The company doesn’t have a product yet. That will come early next year, Werther says.

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