Why We Invested in Sift

James R. Shecter
Fika Ventures
Published in
4 min readJun 26, 2024
Sift Co-Founders Austin Spiegel and Karthik Gollapudi. Image Credit: TechCrunch

In the words of Packy McCormick, we’re amidst a second Industrial Revolution, “…one with astronomical stakes, and we’re at risk of losing because we can’t build like we used to… Part of the reason Americans can’t build like we could in the ’60s is that we’re still relying on the same advanced manufacturing supply chain we were back then, two generations (and a lot of excitement and optimism) removed.”

Reaching for the stars, revolutionizing transportation, and developing advanced robotics using fifty-year-old systems and infrastructure presents a monumental challenge. If we are to achieve our collective aims — whether designing next-generation spacecraft, creating autonomous vehicles, or building complex industrial machines — the underlying infrastructure must be futurized today. This mission touches every industry where cutting-edge hardware innovation is key to progress.

Enter Sift: The Backbone of Modern Machine Innovation

When we first partnered with Sift for their pre-seed round in 2022, we saw a glimpse of the future. Today, as they announce their $17.5M Series A led by GV, that future is rapidly materializing. Sift isn’t just building better software for space exploration; they’re revolutionizing how we develop and operate complex machines across industries.

At its core, Sift is addressing a critical gap in the hardware innovation landscape. As machines grow more sophisticated, from satellites to autonomous vehicles, the challenge of managing vast streams of sensor data becomes increasingly daunting. Traditional methods of data ingestion and analysis — fragmented across teams and cobbled together with ad-hoc solutions — simply can’t keep pace with the complexity of modern hardware.

Sift’s unified observability platform is the missing piece that leading machine builders have been waiting for. By bringing data ingestion, storage, visualization, and analysis into a single, intelligent system, Sift empowers engineers to turn mountains of sensor data into actionable insights.

What’s most important: this isn’t just about space; it’s about accelerating innovation for all distributed hardware assets, from robotics to oil & gas, to transportation, manufacturing and supply chain, and more broadly to the next generation of machines.

The Right Team for an Astronomical Challenge

What truly sets Sift apart is the unparalleled expertise of its founders, Austin Spiegel and Karthik Gollapudi. Their experience at SpaceX isn’t just impressive — it’s directly applicable to the problem Sift is solving.

Sift’s CTO Austin was the software lead on SpaceX’s in-house data exploration system and intimately understands the technical tradeoffs and optimizations needed to build a better solution. Sift CEO Karthik led the Dragon Flight Software team and brings invaluable insight from managing the highest-stakes, lowest-margin-for-error operations in human spaceflight.

This firsthand experience with the pain points of hardware data management makes Austin and Karthik uniquely qualified to build Sift. They’ve lived the problems they’re now solving, and their vision for a unified, AI-enhanced observability stack is resonating with pioneering companies across industries.

James’ shameless selfie with Austin and Karthik at the 2023 Economist Space Economy Summit

From Vision to Reality

Since our initial investment in their 2022 pre-seed round alongside our friends at Riot, Sift has made remarkable progress. They’ve become the backbone for mission-critical machines at companies like K2 Space, Astranis, and True Anomaly. The impact is tangible — customers report dramatic improvements in development speed, reliability, and operational efficiency.

Jeff Dexter, Sr. Director of Software at Astranis Space, puts it succinctly: “With Sift’s advanced observability stack, we’re automating much of the manual data review process to increase reliability while accelerating development.”

Looking Ahead: A New Paradigm for Innovation

With this Series A funding, Sift is poised to push the boundaries even further. Their roadmap includes scaling infrastructure, enhancing AI/ML capabilities, and expanding into manufacturing automation. By abstracting away the complexities of data management, Sift is freeing hardware pioneers to focus on what truly matters — pushing the limits of human ingenuity.

At Fika Ventures, we’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Sift on this journey. We believe they’re not just building a product; they’re catalyzing a new era of hardware innovation. In a world where the next great leap could come from a spacecraft, an autonomous vehicle, or an advanced robot, Sift is providing the foundation for these breakthroughs to happen faster and more reliably than ever before. They’re building the picks and shovels for the next generation of Industrial Revolutionists, and we couldn’t be more excited to be along for the ride.

For more on Sift, check out their website and their latest blog post on the fundraise announcement.

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