Venture Capital

Marketing Automation Vendor Act-On Raises $42M Just Days After IBM’s Agreement To Acquire Silverpop

Marketing automation vendor Act-On Software today announced the finalization of $42 million in venture financing in a round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) with additional participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, US Venture Partners, and Voyager Capital. As a result of the funding raise, David Yuan, general partner at TCV, joins Act-On’s board of directors. Act-On intends to use the funding for all aspects of its business operations, including product development, sales, marketing and operations. The announcement of Act-On’s funding raise comes in the wake of IBM’s announcement of its agreement to acquire marketing automation firm Silverop on April 10.

IBM’s acquisition of Silverpop for an undisclosed sum builds upon Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua and Responsys,’s acquisition of ExactTarget and Marketo’s IPO in May 2013. Silverpop specializes in the personalization of marketing content based on the creation of customized audience profiles derived from email, social media and web and mobile activity and boasts 8000 customers in over 50 countries including the likes of Mazda, Stonyfield Farm and Advanced Micro Devices. Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On, commented on the significance of IBM’s acquisition of Silverpop as follows:

The marketing automation industry has been heating up and Act-On is playing in one of the hottest markets right now…IBM acquiring Silverpop further validates the rapidly growing market and substantiates the industry as a whole. We are seeing an increasingly growing demand for marketing automation as companies are doing more online multi-channel marketing and moving beyond email. Corporate Darwinism is at work here in a fast evolving market. The companies that remain standing are the hyper-growth ones with leading edge technology, or the behemoths that are scrambling to enter the market.

Here, Chatterjee notes that the marketing automation landscape is rapidly bifurcating into two spaces marked by “behemoths” like IBM and Oracle that elected to scoop up attractive platforms such as Silverpop, and a selection of standalone vendors that differentiate themselves by consistently demonstrating their ability to innovate and respond nimbly to customer needs and the changing technology horizon in which all marketing vendors operate. Act-On definitively stands in the category of the “hyper-growth” vendors “with leading edge technology” as evinced by its growth to over 2000 customers and accolades such as the designation of leader in the Forrester Wave report on lead-to-revenue management platform vendors for Q1 of 2014. Today’s funding raise brings the total capital raised by Act-On to $74 million since it was founded in 2008. Act-On now has the luxury of innovating upon its integrated marketing platform to develop more accurate analytics and predictive modeling algorithms to drive the personalization of marketing content at both a population and individual customer level. Key challenges for the Beaverton, Oregon-based company will involve the platform’s ability to incorporate real-time analytics into its prescriptive marketing campaigns, the refinement of customer profiles as they evolve in the specific context of the customer’s relationship with specific brands and the ability to generate effective outbound content such as text messages that match the needs and predispositions of targeted consumers. With an extra $42 million in cash in hand, however, Act-On may well end up becoming one of the vendors scooped up by the “behemoths which are scrambling to enter the market,” particularly if it can consolidate its impressive traction to date and enhance its platform to the point where it becomes the undisputed leader in the marketing automation space.

Categories: Act-On, IBM, Venture Capital | Tags: , ,

Tactile Launches With Focus On Synchronization Technology And $11.2M In Series A Funding

Funded by $11.2M in Series A funding from Accel Partners and Redpoint Ventures, Tactile recently launched with the intent of delivering applications that allow professionals to obtain integrated access to data from disparate data sources. The company’s first application, Tact, enables salespeople to synchronize and integrate data about contacts from multiple sources such as Gmail, LinkedIn, Salesforce and Outlook. Tactile’s patent pending “personal sync platform” enables users to combine data from disparate data sources in order to obtain an enriched, holistic, 360 degree view of data that would otherwise remain fragmented and siloed. As such, Tactile builds upon the possibilities for integration and synchronization enabled by cloud-based platforms such as iCloud and Evernote that can synchronize data dispersed across multiple devices.

Tactile CEO Chuck Ganapathi remarked on the contemporary importance of synchronization technologies as follows:

In our personal lives, we have come to expect everything — photos, music, documents — to be available everywhere and instantly up to date. Sync is the defining technology of this generation, and we are on a mission to bring its power to our work lives and deliver business applications that people love.

Here, Ganapathi echoes a remark by Steve Jobs about the importance of synchronization made in one of the last public talks before his death:

I pick up my iPad and it doesn’t have that song on it. So I have to sync my iPhone to my Mac. Then I have to sync my other devices to the Mac to get that song but then they’ve deposited some photos on the Mac so I have to sync the iPhone again with the Mac to get those photos and keeping those devices in sync is driving us crazy.

Whereas iCloud focuses on device synchronization for a specific set of iOS-based devices, Tactile specializes in data synchronization that leverages multiple applications. Given the increasing plurality of software applications whose functionality overlaps to the point where synchronization would be useful, if not imperative, Tactile stands poised to carve out a niche for itself based on the value proposition of putting the needs of the end-user first, and figuring out how to best serve those needs. With an impressive round of Series A funding in the bank, expect to hear more detailed announcements about Tactile’s approach to synchronization and the purview of its vision in the months ahead.

Categories: Miscellaneous, Venture Capital | Tags: , , , , ,

Intel Invests $740M In Cloudera As Part Of Broader Strategic Big Data Initiative

In a stunning move that is likely to shape the Big Data space for years, Intel recently decided to partner with Cloudera to support its Hadoop distribution rather than enhancing Intel’s own Hadoop distribution. Cloudera will optimize its Hadoop distribution (CDH) to work with Intel’s hardware technology and Intel, conversely, will promote CDH as the Hadoop distribution of choice of enterprise Big Data analytics and the internet of things. Meanwhile, Intel will contribute insights from its own Hadoop distribution to Cloudera’s Hadoop distribution (CDH) and the resulting integration will be rendered available as part of Cloudera’s open source Hadoop initiatives. The partnership between Intel and Cloudera also featured an equity investment by Intel between $740M to $760M that translates into an 18% ownership stake in Cloudera. The $740M invested by Intel brings Cloudera’s recent funding raises to roughly $900M subsequent to its $160M funding raise in mid-March. Intel will join Cloudera’s board of directors and become “Cloudera’s largest strategic shareholder.” According to its press release, Intel’s investment in Cloudera represents Intel’s “single largest data center technology investment in its history.” Intel’s strong presence in countries such as India and China where Cloudera has thus far failed to gain traction means that the partnership stands to dramatically expand Cloudera’s global market share significantly. More importantly, however, Intel’s deep integration with the technologies in almost every datacenter worldwide render it a formidable ally for Cloudera to fulfill its aspiration of becoming the leading Hadoop distribution in the world in ways that promise to transform computing hardware as well as the Hadoop distributions that integrate with Intel’s Xeon technology.

Categories: Big Data, Cloudera, Hadoop, Intel, Venture Capital | Tags: ,

DataRPM Closes $5.1M In Series A Funding For Natural Language Search Big Data Analytics Platform

DataRPM today announced the finalization of $5.1M in Series A funding in a round led by InterWest Partners. DataRPM specializes in a next generation business intelligence platform that leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to facilitate the delivery of actionable business intelligence by means of a natural language-based search engine that allows customers to dispense with complex, time consuming data modeling and query production. DataRPM stores customer data within a “distributed computational search index” that enables its platform to apply its natural language query interface to heterogeneous data sources without modeling the data into intricate taxonomic relationships or master data management frameworks. Because DataRPM’s distributed computational search index empowers customers to run queries against different data sources without constructing data schemas that organize the constituent data fields and their relationships, it promises to accelerate the speed with which customers can derive insights from their data. Not only does the platform deliver a natural language interface, but it also performs data visualization of the requisite Google-like searches as illustrated below:

In an interview with Cloud Computing Today, DataRPM CEO Sundeep Sanghavi noted that its natural language search functionality is based on proprietary graphing technology analogous to Apache Giraph and Neo4j. The platform operates on data in relational and non-relational formats, although it currently does not support unstructured data. Available via both a cloud-based and on-premise deployment solution, DataRPM promises to disrupt Big Data analytics and contemporary business intelligence platforms by dispensing with the need for complex, time consuming and expensive data modeling as well as empowering business stakeholders with neither SQL nor scripting skills to analyze data. Today’s funding raise is intended to accelerate the company’s go-to-market strategy and correspondingly support product development in conjunction with the platform’s reception by current and future customers.

DataRPM belongs to the rapidly growing space of products that expedite Big Data analytics on Hadoop clusters as exemplified by the constellation of SQL-like interfaces for querying Hadoop-based data. That said, its natural language query interface represents a genuine innovation in a space dominated by products that render Hadoop accessible to SQL developers and analysts, as opposed to data savvy stakeholders with Google-like querying expertise. Moreover, DataRPM’s natural language search capabilities push the envelope of “next generation business intelligence” even further than contemporaries such as Jaspersoft, Talend and Pentaho, which thus far have focused largely on the transition within the enterprise from reporting to analytics and data discovery. Expect to hear more about DataRPM as the battle to streamline and simplify the derivation of actionable business intelligence from Big Data takes shape within a vendor landscape marked by the proliferation of analytic interfaces for petabyte-scale relational and non-relational databases.

Categories: Big Data, DataRPM, Venture Capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

DigitalOcean Finalizes $37.2M In Series A Funding For Its IaaS, Virtual Private Server Offering

New York-based IaaS vendor DigitalOcean recently announced the finalization of $37.2M in Series A funding in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz with additional participation from IA Ventures and CrunchFund. As a result of the investment, Andreessen Horowitz’s General Partner Peter Levine will join DigitalOcean’s board of directors. Digital Ocean provides virtual server offerings on solid state drives at a price that begins at $5/month for 20 GB of SSD storage, 512 MB of RAM and 1 TB of bandwidth. Customers can sign up for “droplets” of server capacity of varying sizes, or decide to opt for several droplets to fulfill their infrastructure hosting needs. The funding will be used to support the company’s explosive growth and accelerate product development. According to The New York Times, DigitalOcean now boasts more than 100,000 customers in comparison to the 2,000 customers it had at the beginning of 2013. DigitalOcean’s customers are predominantly developers and start-ups that account for a vibrant online user community that impressed Peter Levine as recounted to TechCrunch:

I met DigitalOcean last fall. I was blown away by the growth and excitement around the developer community. I’m on the board of GitHub as well, and the power of the community became really evident to me at GitHub. Users sense the empowerment. DigitalOcean has this very large community of users so they get a lot of feedback. It’s very uncommon for a startup.

The DigitalOcean community platform features the opportunity for developers to ask and respond to questions, review vetted tutorials and view and contribute to open source projects. DigitalOcean’s large online user community positions it to accelerate product lifecycles by drawing upon the experiences of its users. Potential product enhancements include the addition of Platform as a Service functionality as elaborated by Mitch Wainer, DigitalOcean cofounder and chief marketing officer:

We’re focused on building right now internally a PaaS model where we’re going to provide one-click provisioning for different images. So for example, a Rails image. These will be provided to make it easier for developers to instantly create new servers with preconfigured setups.

Other product development plans include additions to its application programming interface (API) that customers can use to manage their virtual private servers. In addition to supporting product development, the funding raise will also be used to maintain and expand DigitalOcean’s infrastructure footprint as evinced by data centers in New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Singapore.

The striking thing about DigitalOcean is its explosive growth and profitability in the developer and startup IaaS niche space that Amazon Web Services had dominated for years. Current high profile customers include, Nike, TaskRabbit and Flywheel. The main challenge for DigitalOcean now will be to sign up more enterprise customers while continuing to innovate on what is currently a relatively simplistic platform that could be easily be replicated by a competitor unless the platform undergoes a healthy dose of enrichment that maintains, in the words of CEO Ben Uretsky, the “relentless focus on simplicity” that drew customers to its offering in the first place. That Andreessen Horowitz invested so heavily in this Series A financing, for a company not based in Silicon Valley, speaks volumes about the company’s growth. “The numbers speak for themselves,” Peter Levine noted, in what represents a notable reminder that the IaaS space is far from crowded out by Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure IaaS, Rackspace, HP, IBM, Piston Cloud Computing and Red Hat. The question now is whether DigitalOcean can manage its growth and scale to support its expanding international footprint and the increasingly complex needs of its customers as it gains more traction. The $37.2M Series A funding raise brings the total capital raised by DigitalOcean to $40.4M given that it raised $3.2M last year.

Categories: DigitalOcean, IaaS, Venture Capital | Tags: , , , ,

Docker Closes $15M In Series B Funding; Greylock’s Jerry Chen To Join Docker Board

Docker recently finalized $15M in Series B funding in a round led by Greylock Partners with participation by Insight Venture Partners and existing investors Benchmark, Trinity Ventures and Yahoo Co-founder Jerry Yang. As a result of the investment, Jerry Chen of Greylock Partners, who was formerly VP of Cloud and Application Services at VMware, will be joining Docker’s board of directors. The recent capital raise brings the total funding raised by the company to $26M. The funding will be used to invest in the open source Docker project, build out a community platform and explore options for commercialization of Docker’s container technology.

Docker’s open source container technology provides a way for developers to streamline the migration of code from a development environment to a cloud-based platform. Docker containers allow developers to transport applications to private or public clouds while minimizing the configuration and additional preparation needed to deploy the application. Because virtualization operates at the level of the server, applications and their operating systems need to be migrated when moving from a dev to a cloud environment. The innovation of Docker’s technology is that only the application needs to be moved, thereby removing the necessity of migrating the OS and configuring it appropriately in the target cloud environment. Overall, Docker’s containers facilitate the portability of code and simplify application deployment.

Docker began as a Platform as a Service called dotCloud, before famously pivoting thanks to the vision of Solomon Hykes, Docker’s CEO at the time. Nine months since Docker was open sourced, the company now boasts over 400,000 product downloads and 300 contributors. Docker containers are used by the likes of eBay, Yandex and Baidu and its technology is supported by OpenStack, Rackspace, Google Compute Engine and Red Hat. Like Red Hat, Docker intends to wrap professional services and subscription-based management functionality around its core open source product. Given the product’s meteoric adoption in the space of 9 months, the industry should expect to see even greater usage of Docker technology over the course of 2014, particularly in light of the place of its technology in the emerging DevOps revolution and its attendant transformation of enterprise IT.

Categories: Docker, Venture Capital | Tags: , ,

Backed by Accel Partners, Aorato Launches With Cybersecurity Platform For Active Directory

Today, cybersecurity startup Aorato comes out of stealth to launch internationally with a machine learning-based Directory Services Application Firewall (DAF) designed to ensure the security of Microsoft’s Active Directory protocol. Aorato’s proprietary graph database technology alerts security personnel to eccentricities specific to exchanges between Active Directory entities that may signal or prefigure a security violation. Aorato’s Directory Services Application Firewall iteratively learns from the results of previous analyses and subsequently builds entity profiles that not only identify security breaches retrospectively, but also predicts them based on probabilistic analysis of historical data.

Aorato observes the traffic between Microsoft’s Active Directory servers and network entities such as users and devices in order to create an Organizational Security Graph (OSG) that models relationships between the different entities. The Organizational Security Graph depicts anomalous behavior that can be used to identify potential or actual security breaches. The OSG constructs an attack timeline and profiles of entities that enable speedy categorizations of potential security breaches such that security professionals can take action against the incident in question with the appropriate degree of speed and urgency. Aorato constructed its OSG graph database using a NoSQL database platform and proprietary code used to map relationships between different entities in the Active Directory ecosystem. In an interview with Cloud Computing Today, CEO Idan Plotnik noted that the company began coding OSG using Neo4j but chose to transition to a proprietary, custom developed platform in order to more effectively accommodate the specificities of the relationships between and amongst Active Directory entities.

Prior to Aorato, Idan was CEO of a security consulting firm that specialized in security solutions for Microsoft products and technologies. Aorato recently finalized a second round of funding of over $8M that brings the total capital raised by the company to $10M. Investors include Accel Partners, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Glilot Capital Partners and entrepreneurs Mickey Boodaei and Rakesh Loonkar. The Aorato team has significant experience working for the Cybersecurity department within the Israeli Defense Forces and plans to maintain R&D in Israel while locating sales and marketing and other company functions in the U.S., in NYC. The cybersecurity space should expect to hear more about Aorato in the upcoming months, particularly as it signs up more enterprise customers and reveals further details about the analytics enabled by its proprietary, Big Data graph database platform.

Categories: Miscellaneous, Venture Capital | Tags: , , , ,

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