Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Actian to Acquire Big-Data Startup ParAccel

Actian, a privately held player in the big data and business analytics software space that’s lately been known for making acquisitions, is about to close another. Later today, the company will announce a deal to acquire ParAccel, a well-funded startup that specializes in analytics database software.

Actian CEO Steven Shine told AllThingsD that the combined company will have revenue north of $150 million and 450 employees around the world.

It’s Actian’s third significant acquisition since 2011. In January, it paid $162 million for Pervasive Software, a publicly held software company. Late last year, it paid $37 million for Versant, beating out a bid from another company.

Financial terms were not disclosed, since both companies are private. But the deal marks an exit for ParAccel’s investors, including Amazon, MDV, Bay Partners, Walden International, Tao Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures, who had put in a combined $64 million since its founding in 2007. The most recent capital injection was a $20 million venture round led by Amazon that was announced a year ago.

ParAccel specializes in high-end databases, and has seen a handful of its primary competitors, like Vertica and Aster Data Systems, acquired by the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Teradata, respectively. Its Analytic Platform brings together an analytic database along with features to extend it and integrate it with other technologies for running big-data analytics. Its customers include Amazon, Royal Bank of Scotland, OfficeMax and MicroStrategy.

Amazon uses ParAccel’s technology in its RedShift cloud-based data warehousing service, while MicroStrategy uses it to power a business intelligence product.

Shine said that as more companies begin to struggle with their big-data and analytics problems, their choices first seem limited to large vendors like IBM and Oracle and EMC’s Greenplum. “When you look at companies that are focused purely on data, you see the behemoths, and most of those drag hardware along with them,” he said. “And then you look down below and see a lot of Hadoop spinoffs.”

Companies are looking for help in getting all the various threads of gathering, managing and analyzing big troves of data and then turning it all into useful business intelligence, Shine said. And they also want to do it in the cloud, and that’s where he sees the opportunity.

Actian was born as a database product called Ingres inside CA Technologies, one it acquired in the 1990s. In 2004, CA decided to turn it into an open-source product. And in 2005, during a fit of streamlining, CA’s Ingres assets were spun out as a privately held company, majority owned by the private equity firm Garnett & Helfrich Capital, and became Ingres Corp. It changed its name to Actian in 2011.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik