By Nitin Chopra, VC at Shasta Ventures
SlamData co-founder and CTO, John De Goes, pioneered a new form of mathematics. Unlike before, businesses can now get value directly from their unstructured modern data, without having to structure it first. This is a significant achievement.
The mathematical innovation at the heart of it is called Multidimensional Relational Algebra (MRA). While John is the math-whiz, it’s his co-founder and CEO, Jeff Carr, who identified the opportunity and the power of this unique technology in how businesses can now unearth value from their data. Last month, Shasta was thrilled to announce that we led SlamData’s series A financing.
To be fair, when Jeff and John first told me about their Boulder, Colorado-based open source software company, my skeptical glasses were securely fastened. After all, their technology is extraordinary, but, is it even possible?
I had spent the past two years scouring the modern data stack searching for solutions that would enable businesses to extract value from their significant NoSQL investments. I had the unique pleasure to discuss industry challenges with Fortune 500 chief data officers and senior data executives through Shasta’s Data Summit roundtable last year and through one-on-one conversations.
The common thread throughout my conversations was that over the past decade, enterprises have been pouring truckloads of their own capital into modern data stores — like MongoDB, Couchbase, MarkLogic, and Hadoop– to cope with ballooning amounts of information. But, these modern data stores are all based on complex, schema-less unstructured data. So, to extract value from the data, businesses had to transform the data using cumbersome ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) processes, and then push it out to the traditional Business Intelligence and Analytics platforms. This process is arduous, requiring massive amounts of time and energy. Running a query can take anywhere from hours to weeks.
SlamData cuts through this longwinded process. In a nutshell, MRA helps deal with heterogeneous, nested data that exists in modern NoSQL databases. This is the foundation of the product. So, when Jeff and John said that SlamData allows customers to do business intelligence (BI) and analytics directly on top of modern data sources, it was clear that this is an enterprise game-changer.
While a nerd myself and never too shy to dive deep into product and architecture, I was fortunate enough to enlist our Entrepreneur-in-Residence Sreeni Iyer to help evaluate the technology. Sreeni brings decades of expertise to the table and his passion for the technology propelled him to join SlamData as SVP of Engineering. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sreeni over the past year in building Shasta’s AI and data thesis, and I am excited to work together at SlamData as we build a significant business.
This investment is also important for us at Shasta Ventures because it fits in perfectly with Shasta’s data practice and our exploration of modern data stack. Within that context, we have made multiple investments in companies like LucidWorks, which gets value out of search data through LucidWorks Fusion; Lightbend, which takes fast streaming data for reactive application development platform; and Data.World, a social network for data professionals. SlamData is a tremendous addition to our portfolio and we’re excited to welcome the team into Shasta family.