5 Data Startups To Watch Out For In 2016

The next 12 months could be big for these companies


The tech industry has seen some eye-watering investment in recent years, with unicorns now being created on almost a weekly basis. Data analytics firms such as Palantir have been quick to pass the magic billion dollar mark, and with a number of other data companies having been successful with funding rounds over the last, it looks like 2016 will see the trend continue. According to Forrester Research, the broad business intelligence software category is set to generate $21bn in total revenue this year, and there are a host of startups trying to take as much of that as they can. We’ve looked at 5 companies making the biggest impression on the market place.

1. Looker

Looker’s founders, Lloyd Tabb and Ben Porterfield, started the company with the aim of creating a tool for people to search structured data in a way more similar to the way people explore the web. They created a new language for database queries, an easier-to-use approach to SQL called LookML, and presents data in such a way that explains and curates it rather than simply answering queries, helping to bring data teams together with users. CEO Frank Bien explained that ‘people were building big data stores but applying old approaches’, a problem Looker attempted to correct by putting the application server on top of software so the user could ask it questions. Looker CEO Frank Bien explained, ‘Everybody uses a different language to explain the same thing. This helps teams talk in the same vocabulary.’

Looker now has offices in London, San Francisco, and New York, and its workforce has roughly doubled from 100 at the start of 2015 to 200 in 2016. Looker has also tripled the number of companies on its customer list to 450, adding high-profile organizations like eBay and Intel. Interest in the company from VCs has been tremendous, with the firm raising another $30m in a Series B funding last year, and another $48m in January of this year. The funding the company has raised will allow them to expand even more rapidly, and the aim is to almost double its customer list again to 800 by the end of the year.

2. BrainSpace

BrainSpace’s technology is designed to make sense of unstructured data, analyzing concepts and reading inbetween the lines of the vast amount of documents and data out there. Founder Dave Copps explained that, ‘The challenge for us is to make it so usable, easy and so valuable that people want to come in. We want to build a system that learns about you and helps connect you with people and things all the time.’ One of their best publicized successes so far was their analysis of the Enron documents, which threw up patterns previously unseen by the lawyers and provided new evidence for the case. These are the kinds of data sets that the tool is best suited to, and they have proved particularly popular with firms in the financial industry, with a client list that includes giants like Deloitte and KPMG.

BrainSpace raised $5m in 2015, and launched another round of funding this year. Copps expects 100% growth in 2016, when he projects the company will cross the $10 million mark.

3. Platfora

Platfora ‘masks the complexity of Hadoop, making it easy for customers to understand all the facts in their business across events, actions, behaviors and time.’ Its client list already includes Disney, Opower, Sears, and the Washington Post.

Platfora currently has 150 employees and recently announced a $30m investment that CEO Jason Zintak says will see that double by the end of the year, as well as helping field expansion, sellers, customer success managers, trainers, and development efforts.

4. Qubit

London-based startup Qubit is a data analytics platform which facilitates online selling. CEO and co-founder Graham Cooke, said in a statement that, ‘The industry has been dogged by ineffective front-end point solutions. Now the market is quickly realizing that customer experience delivery is not a ‘front-end play’ but rather requires a large, integrated enterprise scale resource and a deep understanding of the customer. This is an area that Qubit invested in early on. Our platform allows deeper customer understanding, better insights and faster action meaning our clients can give their customers more than their competitors can.’

Qubit recently closed a $40m Series C round led by Goldman Sachs, bringing the total amount of funding raised by the company to approximately $76m. Qubit is now aiming to more than double its engineering capability and continue its growth trajectory over the next year.

5. Qubole

Qubole was started up by former Facebook engineers Ashish Thusoo and Joydeep Sen Sarma in 2011. It is a a cloud-based Big Data as a service developer that aims to simplify, speed and scale Big Data analytics workloads against data stored on AWS, Google or Azure clouds with on-demand elastic clusters in the cloud that act as an alternative to on-premises Hadoop clusters. You can then scale the HaaS cluster up and down as needed, removing the necessity for a relatively static infrastructure in your own data centre. Its customers include Pinterest, and they recently raised $30m in a Series C funding round to expand its flagship product, Qubole Data Service, taking the total amount raised to $50m.

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