Big data analytics food startup Hampton Creek has raised $90M in Series C funding in a round led by Horizons Ventures and Khosla Ventures with additional participation from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff and other private investors. Hampton Creek uses advanced analytics to identity plants that enable the production of egg-free food products that contain fewer artificial ingredients, taste better and are healthier than their competitors. The funds will be used to advance its research and development efforts and accelerate the distribution of its products in collaboration with other major food vendors. In particular, Hampton Creek intends to use the funding to expand its market presence in Asia by distributing an eggless scrambled egg product that responds to consumer and watchdog concerns about the lack of sanitary conditions in which eggs are harvested in Asia. To date, Hampton Creek’s products include Just Mayo, Just Cookies and an egg substitute called Beyond Eggs. The company intends to release Just Pasta and Just Scrambled in 2015. On Thursday, multi-billion dollar food conglomerate Unilever recently dropped its October lawsuit against Hampton Creek that claimed Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo, eggless mayonnaise product is not mayonnaise because it lacks eggs. In dropping its lawsuit, Unilver backpedaled and praised “Hampton Creek’s commitment to innovation and its inspired corporate purpose,” while noting the sharing of “a vision with Hampton Creek of a more sustainable world.” Hampton Creek has now raised a total of $120M that includes $23M in Series B funding from earlier this year.
On Friday December 12, Hortonworks finished its first day of trading with a share price of $26.48, roughly 65% more than the IPO price of $16 per share. Hortonworks plans to raise $100M by means of 6,250,000 publicly available shares. Friday’s impressive showing bodes well for the Hadoop infrastructure and analytics market in 2015, particularly given that Hortonworks competitors are gearing up to execute IPOs in 2015 or shortly thereafter. Cloud monitoring and analytics vendor New Relic similarly gained in its first day of trading by rising 48% from $23 per share to $33.02 by the end of the day. The results represented a huge coup for venture capitalist Peter Fenton of Benchmark Capital, who serves on the board of directors of both companies. Whereas Hortonworks raised $100M in its IPO, New Relic raised $115M. The real winner in both of these IPOs, however, is Yahoo given that Yahoo owns roughly 20% of the shares of its spin-off Hortonworks and 16.8% of shares of New Relic.
Avi Networks today emerged from stealth to announce the general availability of its Cloud Application Delivery Platform. The Avi Networks Cloud Application Delivery Platform leverages a disruptive technology branded the Hyperscale Distributed Resources Architecture (HYDRA) that attempts to bring the application delivery and load balancing technologies enjoyed by internet giants such as Facebook and Google to the modern enterprise. HYDRA takes advantage of software defined networking marked by a separation of the control plane and the data plane in conjunction with distributed microservices that apply a multitude of services such as load balancing and SSL termination to incoming network traffic in parallel. HYDRA also features built-in analytics that give customers real-time visibility into resource consumption specific to applications and swathes of network traffic. The Avi Networks HYDRA-powered Cloud Application Delivery platform empowers enterprises to optimize load balancing and application delivery within private cloud deployments in addition to hybrid cloud infrastructures that additionally take advantage of the services of a public cloud environment to complement an on-premise infrastructure.
Founded by former Cisco executives, Avi Networks has raised a total of $33 million in funding from Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures. In addition to delivering revolutionary load balancing and application delivery technology to the enterprise, the Cloud Application Delivery Platform promises to assist cloud service providers achieve the performance benefits and economies of scale enjoyed by platforms such as Google’s Andromeda platform and Facebook’s Autoscale system. Expect more details about the Cloud Application Delivery Platform to emerge in subsequent months but for now, the application delivery and load balancing space features a new incumbent focused on improving end-user experiences given the proliferation of cloud-based applications that impose new demands on application-delivery infrastructures. Umesh Mahajan, Founder and CEO of Avi Networks, elaborated on the significance of the company’s value proposition by noting that, “In today’s mobile cloud era, the traditional appliance-centric, monolithic application delivery approach doesn’t work anymore,” and as such, the company conceived and operationalized a disruptive application-delivery and load balancing framework that competes with the likes of F5 and Citrix.
Sentient Technologies Raises $103.5M In Series C Funding For Distributed Artificial Intelligence Technology
Artificial intelligence vendor Sentient Technologies recently announced the finalization of $103.5M in Series C funding in a round led by Tata Communications (Hong Kong), existing investor Horizons Ventures and a group of private investors. Sentient’s technology features an artificial intelligence and machine learning platform that operates on distributed datasets to develop actionable business intelligence from disparate, asynchronous data sources. The company’s patent pending technology has thus far been used to develop analytic insights in the financial and healthcare industries. Sentient differentiates itself in the artificial intelligence space by way of its unique ability to scale to process artificial intelligence jobs on millions of nodes in parallel.
Vinod Kumar, MD and CEO of Tata Communications, the company that led the Series C round, remarked on the significance of Sentient Technologies as follows:
As an investor, we share a common vision on the transformative force that massively distributed computing and artificial intelligence can play in helping businesses get insights and solve their most complex big data problems. We see Sentient at the forefront of these technologies and bringing a disruptive approach to cloud based computing services. Furthermore, the scale of our leading global network infrastructure and data center footprint also complements Sentient’s growth plans and will enable its global deployment.
Here, Kumar positions Sentient Technologies as contributing to the “transformative force that massively distributed computing and artificial intelligence” currently plays in revolutionizing the way in which businesses manage big data analytics. Sentient delivers a “disruptive” approach to cloud-based distributed artificial intelligence that benefits from its collaboration with Tata’s global data center and network infrastructure. As such, Sentient participates in a resurgence of artificial intelligence technologies as evinced by IBM’s $100M venture fund in Watson supercomputing, Google’s acquisition of DeepMind technologies for $500M and early stage artificial intelligence startups such as Wit.ai, Idibon, Expect Labs and Prediction IO. Given that Sentient’s Series C funding represents the largest venture round funding investment in an artificial intelligence startup to date, the industry should expect more details of its technology platform and product roadmap to emerge in upcoming months. Sentient’s platform differentiates by way of its distributed artificial intelligence technology and massive ability to scale, although details of its predictive analytics and data management technology have yet to emerge. For now, however, the bottom line is that AI is hot both for investors and prospective customers that are increasingly interested in leveraging iterative machine learning technologies into business operations.
OpenStack Vendor Mirantis Raises $100M In Series B Funding And Sets Record For Open Source Investment
Mirantis recently announced $100M in Series B funding in a round led by Insight Venture Partners. August Capital and existing investors Intel Capital, WestSummit Capital, Ericsson, and Sapphire Ventures (formerly SAP Ventures). The investment marks the largest Series B funding round in the history of open source software. As a result of the funding raise, Insight Venture Partners Managing Director, Alex Crisses, will join the Mirantis board of directors. Crisses remarked on the investment as follows:
OpenStack adoption is accelerating worldwide, driven by the need for low cost, scalable cloud infrastructure. 451 Research estimates a market size of $3.3 billion by 2018. Mirantis delivers on OpenStack’s promise of cloud computing at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional IT vendors, and without the compromise of vendor lock-in. Their customer traction has been phenomenal.
Mirantis intends to use the funding to accelerate product development and enhance its international expansion to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The Mountain View-based company has helped over 130 companies implement OpenStack and claims bragging rights to the largest OpenStack deal to date in the form of a five year licensing agreement with Ericsson. The company has experienced meteoric growth in recent years with revenue increasing from $1M a month to $1M a week. With an extra $100M in the bank, Mirantis is enviably positioned to deliver one of the most productized, turnkey distributions of OpenStack on the marketplace and to subsequently assume a leadership spot in the intensifying battle for OpenStack market share. Notably, the Series B funding raise also enables Mirantis to increase its contributions to the OpenStack community and assert more influence on the direction of the open source IaaS collaboration. Whatever comes next, however, the $100M investment represents a watershed moment in the history of open source computing and suggests that open source may well hold the key to the larger future of software and IT infrastructure services more generally.
This week, Ericsson acquired a majority stake in Apcera, a platform as a service vendor that enables organizations to control how applications are used in cloud computing environments. Apcera’s Continuum platform allows customers to monitor the usage of IT infrastructures, orchestrate application deployment and implement governance and security policies. The acquisition of Apcera promises to enhance the Ericsson platform by delivering cloud automation as well as security, governance and application management functionality that gives users more granular insight about the performance of their infrastructure and its constituent environment. Apcera’s technology takes aim at the rapidly emerging discipline of business processes dedicated to risk management, security and compliance by providing Ericsson customers with enhanced abilities to organize and delineate security and governance protocols as they relate to infrastructure components and applications. The acquisition constitutes a notable feather in Ericsson’s IaaS cap as it builds out its cloud portfolio to serve the needs of enterprise customers, many of whom are compelled to leverage audit, compliance and security protocols to satisfy the requirements of investors and state and federal regulatory agencies.
Cloud monitoring and analytics vendor Cloudyn today announced the finalization of $4M in funding in a capital raise led by Titanium Investments with additional participation from existing investor RDSeed. Cloudyn’s cloud monitoring solutions deliver actionable business intelligence that empowers cloud users to optimize the performance of their infrastructures. The funding will be used to accelerate product development and enable its cloud analytics platform to support more cloud infrastructure platforms. The uniqueness of Cloudyn’s platform consists in its ability to perform cloud monitoring across a variety of vendors and infrastructures. Although most cloud vendors provide a monitoring dashboard and user interface in conjunction with their IaaS platform, Cloudyn’s value proposition rests on its ability to provide cloud monitoring across multiple vendors and environments that include private, public and hybrid infrastructures. Currently supported cloud platforms include Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine and OpenStack as illustrated by the graphic below:
The screenshot above provides a comparison of OpenStack, GCE and AWS costs for a customer that has chosen to use all three vendors. As told to Cloud Computing Today in a phone interview with Cloudyn’s CEO Sharon Wagner, Microsoft Azure and VMware represent key priorities for integration into Cloudyn’s monitoring and optimization platform based on customer interest and feedback. To date, Cloudyn monitors 8% of customer expense on AWS in addition to year over year revenue growth in excess of 400%, and a doubling of revenue for six consecutive quarters. Today’s funding raise brings the total capital raised by Cloudyn to $5.3M. With an extra $4M in the bank, expect Cloudyn to expand its 2400+ customer base significantly, particularly if it manages to notably expand its range of supported IaaS platforms.
Note: Data in the above screenshot does not represent an actual comparison of OpenStack, AWS and GCE costs and should be understood as sample data only.