HootSuite Raises $165M In Series B Funding

Social media management startup HootSuite recently announced the finalization of a whopping $165 million in Series B funding in a round led by Insight Venture Partners with additional participation from Accel Partners and OMERS Ventures. HootSuite is one of the five vendors initially selected by Twitter as Ads API Partners to enable customers to manage advertising campaigns from within the HootSuite platform instead of logging into Twitter. Additionally, HootSuite uses its dashboards and analytics to enable brand management across other social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare. The company recently announced revenue growth of 300% for Q2 of 2013 in comparison with Q2 of 2012, over 7 million users worldwide and integration with 56 applications.

As a result of the investment, Jeff Lieberman, Managing Director of Insight Venture Partners, Ryan Sweeney, Managing Partner at Accel and John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS, will join HootSuite’s board of directors. HootSuite’s finalization of Series B funding builds upon previous funding rounds of $1.9M and $20M that brings the total funding raised by HootSuite to $187M. The funding will be used for global expansion that includes hiring resources in Latin America and Europe. The investment may also be used to finance strategic acquisitions in the social media management, dashboards and analytics space. In an interview with TechCrunch, HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes noted that the funding round takes the pressure off the company to prematurely evolve into an IPO or an acquisition.

HootSuite is currently “cash flow neutral” and, according to Ad Age, charges “enterprise clients anywhere from five figures annually up to the high six figures.” A recent article in Business Insider by Jim Edwards estimated that HootSuite’s revenue is anywhere between $50 million and $200 million based on some back of the envelope calculations that include the data point that the company has 246 Fortune 500 customers as noted by CEO Holmes in an interview with Bloomberg. Since HootSuite’s revenue is a fraction of Twitter’s advertising revenue, Edwards intuited that it would not be unreasonable to conclude that Twitter’s advertising revenue is on the order of $1 billion. As rumors of Twitter’s IPO proliferate and Facebook’s share price passes its initial IPO price, the industry should expect HootSuite to consolidate its early traction in the Twitter and Facebook advertising space. The company’s roster of customers includes PepsiCo, Fox, Sony Music, the National Hockey League (NHL) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.

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EMC’s Pivotal One Attempts To Bring IT Infrastructures Of Facebook, Google and Amazon Web Services To Enterprise

This week, EMC and its subsidiary VMware revealed details of the vision behind Pivotal, its spin-off company financed in part by $105 million in capital from GE. In a webcast announcing the launch of Pivotal on Wednesday, Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz, formerly CEO of VMware from 2008 to 2012, remarked that Pivotal attempts to bring to enterprises the technology platforms that have allowed internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon Web Services to efficiently operate IT infrastructures on a massive scale while concurrently demonstrating cost and performance efficiencies in application development and data analytics.

Referring specifically to Facebook, Google and Amazon Web Services, Maritz elaborated on the strengths of their IT infrastructure as follows:

If you look at the way they do IT, it is significantly different than the way enterprises do IT. Specifically, they are good at storing large amounts of data and drawing information from it in a cost-effective manner. They can develop applications very quickly. And they are good at automating routines. They used these three capabilities together to introduce new experiences and business processes that have yielded — depended on how you want to count it — a trillion dollars in market value.

According to Maritz, the internet giants are a cut above everyone else with respect to data storage, data analytics, application development and automation. Enterprises, in contrast, leverage comparatively archaic IT infrastructures marked by on premise data centers and attempts to migrate to the cloud in conjunction with meager data analytics capability and poor or non-existent IT automation and orchestration processes. As a result, the enterprise market represents an opportunity to deploy technology platforms that allow for efficient storage, data integration across disparate data sources and interactive applications with real-time responses to incoming data as Maritz notes below:

It is clear that there is a widespread need emerging for new solutions that allow customers to drive new business value by cost-effectively reasoning over large datasets, ingesting information that is rapidly arriving from multiple sources, writing applications that allow real-time reactions, and doing all of this in a cloud-independent or portable manner. The need for these solutions can be found across a wide range of industries and it is our belief that these solutions will drive the need for new platforms. Pivotal aims to be a leading provider of such a platform. We are honored to work with GE, as they seek to drive new business value in the age of the Industrial Internet.

More specifically, Pivotal will provide a platform as a service infrastructure called Pivotal One that brings the capabilities currently enjoyed by the likes of Facebook and Google to enterprises in ways that allow them to continue their transition to cloud-based IT infrastructures while concurrently enjoying all of the benefits of advanced storage, analytics and agile application development. In other words, Pivotal One marks the confluence of Big Data, Cloud, Analytics and Application Development in a bold play to commoditize the IT capabilities held by a handful of internet giants and render them available to the enterprise through a PaaS platform.

Pivotal One’s key components include the following:

Pivotal Data Fabric
A platform for data storage and analytics based on Pivotal HD, which features an enterprise-grade distribution of Apache Hadoop in addition to Pivotal HD’s HAWQ analytics platform.

Pivotal Cloud and Application Platform
An application development framework for Java for the enterprise based on Cloud Foundry and Spring.

Pivotal Expert Services
Professional services for agile application development and data analytics.

Open Source Support
Active support of open source projects such as but not limited to Spring, Cloud Foundry, RabbitMQ™, Redis, OpenChorus™.

Pivotal currently claims Groupon, EMI, and Salesforce.com among its customer base. The company already has 1250 employees and, given GE’s financing and interests, is poised to take a leadership role in the industrial internet space whereby objects such as automobiles, washers, dryers and other appliances deliver real-time data to a circuit of analytic dashboards that iteratively provide feedback, automation and control. Pivotal One also represents a nascent trend within the Platform as a Service industry whereby PaaS is increasingly evolving into an “everything as a service” platform that sits atop various IaaS infrastructures. For example, CumuLogic recently announced news of a platform that allows customers to build Amazon Web Services-like infrastructures marked by suites of IaaS, Big Data, PaaS and application development infrastructures on top of private clouds behind their enterprise firewall. EMC’s Pivotal One is expected to be generally available by the end of 2013.

Oracle Partners With Cloudera For Newly Available Big Data Appliance

On Tuesday, Oracle declared the availability of the Big Data appliance that it introduced to the world at its October conference Oracle Open World. The appliance runs on Linux and features Cloudera’s version of Apache Hadoop (CDH), Cloudera Manager for managing the Hadoop distribution, the Oracle NoSQL database as well as an open source version of R, the statistical software package. Oracle’s partnership with Cloudera in delivering its Big Data appliance goes beyond the latter’s selection as a Hadoop distributor to include assistance with customer support. Oracle plans to deliver tier one customer support while Cloudera will provide assistance with tier two and tier three customer inquiries, including those beyond the domain of Hadoop.

Oracle will run its Big Data appliance on hardware featuring 864 GB main memory, 216 CPU cores, 648 TB of raw disk storage, 40 Gb/s InfiniBand connectivity and10 Gb/s Ethernet data center connectivity. Oracle also revealed details of four connectors to its appliance with the following functionality:

• Oracle Loader for Hadoop to load massive amounts of data into the appliance by using the MapReduce parallel processing technology.
• Oracle Data Integrator Application Adapter for Hadoop which provides a graphical interface that simplifies the creation of Hadoop MapReduce programs.
• Oracle Connector R which provides users of R streamlined access to the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS)
• Oracle Direct Connector for Hadoop Distributed File System (ODCH), which supports the integration of Oracle’s SQL database with its Hadoop Distributed File System.

Oracle’s announcement of the availability of its Big Data appliance comes as the battle for Big Data market share takes shape in a landscape dominated by the likes of Teradata, Microsoft, IBM, HP, EMC, Informatica, MarkLogic and Karmasphere. Oracle’s selection of Cloudera as its Hadoop distributor indicates that it intends to make a serious move into the world of Big Data. For one, the partnership with Cloudera gives Oracle increased access to Cloudera’s universe of customers. Secondly, the partnership enhances the credibility of Oracle’s Big Data offering given that Cloudera represents that most prominent distributor of Apache Hadoop in the U.S.

In October, Microsoft revealed plans for a Big Data appliance featuring Hadoop for Windows Server and Azure, and Hadoop connectors for SQL Server and SQL Parallel Data Warehouse. Whereas Oracle chose Cloudera for Hadoop distribution, Microsoft partnered with Yahoo spinoff Hortonworks to integrate Hadoop with Windows Server and Windows Azure. In late November, HP provided details of Autonomy IDOL (Integrated Data Operating Layer) 10, which features the ability to process large-scale structured data sets in addition to a NoSQL interface for loading and analyzing structured and unstructured data. In December, EMC released its Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform (UAP) marked by the ability to load structured data, enterprise-grade Hadoop for analyzing structured and unstructured data and Chorus, a collaboration and productivity software tool. Bolstered by its partnership with Cloudera, Oracle is set to compete squarely with HP’s Autonomy IDOL 10, EMC’s Greenplum Chorus and IBM’s BigInsights until Microsoft’s appliance officially enters the Big Data doohyoo (土俵) qua sumo ring as well.

Big Data Goes Social With EMC’s Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform

EMC announced the release of its Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform (UAP) on Thursday. The Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform, a unified platform for processing structured and unstructured data, represents EMC’s latest move to consolidate its positioning in the Big Data space and compete squarely with Big Data offerings recently elaborated by Oracle, Microsoft and HP. EMC’s announcement comes scarcely two weeks after HP’s disclosure of the integration of its Autonomy and Vertica offerings within a unified Next Generation Information Platform called Autonomy IDOL 10 that specializes in the processing of structured and unstructured data. EMC’s Unified Analytics Platform features integration with Hadoop, the software framework for analyzing massive amounts of structured and unstructured data.

The EMC Greenplum UAP contains the following three components:

• The EMC Greenplum platform for the analysis of structured data.
• Enterprise-grade Hadoop for analyzing structured and unstructured data.
• EMC Greenplum Chorus, a collaboration and productivity software tool that enables social networking amongst constituents in an organization that are leveraging Big Data.

EMC Greenplum Chorus recognizes the way in which Big Data scientists and analysts may be geographically dispersed across different enterprise locations, even as they need to collaborate to deliver enterprise-wide analysis that integrates structured and unstructured data from different data sets. GigaOM reports data exploration represents one of the most significant features of Chorus because it provides users with a Facebook-like user interface which enables data scientists to “launch a sandbox environment and start analyzing the data with just a few clicks.” According to EMC’s press release, Chorus facilitates collaboration amongst Big Data teams as follows:

EMC Greenplum Chorus opens data science teams up to an entirely new way to collaborate across dispersed geographies and with very large data sets. Through the Chorus interface, users get ready access to tools, data and supporting resources that enable enterprise-wide Big Data productivity. Frictionless and rapid collaboration across data science teams helps to ensure useful insights get back to the business in time to take the right actions, thus increasing agility and innovation.

Like IBM’s artificial intelligence supercomputer Watson, Chorus provides an interface for translating human questions into queries that run against petabytes of data. Chorus also allows users to share results from and refine approaches to data analysis. The social networking component of EMC’s Unified Analytics Platform ensures that diverse constituents can examine Big Data and iteratively refine their approach to data analysis as a collective. Chorus, the collaborative platform of UAP, profoundly differentiates EMC’s Big Data offering from competing products from HP, Oracle, Microsoft, Cloudera and Odiago.

EMC’s Unified Analytic Platform represents the convergence of the hottest trends in technology today: cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization and social networking. The question now is whether social networking and Big Data represents a fad that will pass, or an innovation that forever changes the landscape of products in the Big Data space.

10 Things You Should Know About Zynga and Its IPO

Zynga, the social gaming company founded by Mark Pincus in 2007, hopes to raise $1 billion in an IPO that follows upon the heels of the LinkedIn and Groupon IPOs of the last few months. Zynga’s IPO is expected to offer 10 percent of its shares to the public at a valuation of $20 billion. Here are ten things you should know about Zynga and its July 1 S-1 filing.

1. Unlike Groupon, Zynga is profitable. The company reported $90.6 million in profit in 2010. In Q1 of 2011, Zynga reported an $11.8 million profit. Zynga’s 2010 revenues were $597.46 million. For the first quarter of 2011, its revenue was $235.42 million.

2. Zynga’s IPO features three categories of shares: Class A, B and C. Class A shares will be issued to public shareholders. Class B and C shares belong to senior executives and investors. CEO Mark Pincus owns all of the Class C shares. Pincus made almost $110 million by selling a percentage of his class B shares back to Zynga last March.

3. Zynga’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Union Square Ventures, DST Global, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Google, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Andreessen Horowitz, Tiger Global and Kevin Rose. Key investors own the following percentages of Class B Shares: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers owns 11%; IVP, Foundry Ventures and Avalon Ventures each own 6.1%; DST Global owns 5.8% and Union Square Ventures takes claim to 5.5%.

4. Zynga is the biggest developer of Facebook applications such as CityVille, FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Words with Friends and Zynga Poker. The company has 60 million daily active users on Facebook and more daily active users than the next 30 Facebook social game developers combined.

5. Zynga has the top two games in the word category for the Apple App Store for iPhone.

6. Zynga has 2000 employees that serve 148 million unique monthly users in 166 countries. Players create 38,000 virtual entities per second and spend 2 billion minutes a day gaming.

7. “Substantially all” of Zynga’s revenue derives from the Facebook platform. Any decisions made by Facebook that adversely affect Zynga’s gaming operations would have significant repercussions on its revenue stream.

8. Zynga sees its market opportunity in the context of: a) the growth of social networking; b) a culture of the “App Economy” whereby developers have access to social network platforms; and c) A “Free-to-Play” gaming culture that allows users to play games for free, thereby attracting a broader set of users and a richer ecosystem for social interaction within the gaming environment.

9. Zynga cites its cloud based technology infrastructure as one of its core strengths. Zynga uses Amazon’s EC2 platform as a testing stage for its applications before migrating them to its own cloud based infrastructure. The company’s cloud based infrastructure carries with it the ability to provision “tools have enabled us to add up to 1,000 servers in a 24-hour period in response to game demand,” according to its S-1 filing.

10. Notable challenges Zynga foresees include its dependence on Facebook, the small percentage of players that are responsible for company revenue, the challenge of developing quality games for mobile platforms and non-PC platforms more generally, and the difficulty of recruiting and maintaining world class talent.