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Starburst Data Collects $42M Round As Big Data Startup Ramps Up Product Development, Channel Expansion

Company positions its Presto-based distributed SQL query technology, which provides access to data in any source, as an alternative to traditional data warehouse systems.

Starburst Data, a big data startup built around the Presto open-source query engine technology, has raised $42 million in Series B financing.

Starburst, launched in 2017 and based in Boston, will use the latest funding to fuel its market expansion – including expanding alliances with the major cloud platform vendors and developing a partner program – and significantly expand its engineering team to accelerate development of the company’s Starburst Enterprise Presto flagship product.

The announcement comes close on the heels of a Series A funding round in November 2019 that brought in $22 million.

[Related: 10 Hit Big Data Companies To Watch In 2020]

Presto is a high-performance, distributed SQL query engine for finding and analyzing data that resides in a variety of data sources. Presto was originally developed by Facebook for querying data in the social media company’s multi-petabyte data warehouse. Facebook open-sourced the Presto technology in 2013.

Presto runs on premises or in the cloud and can be used to query and analyze data that is scattered across multiple systems. A key advantage is that unlike data warehouses and other traditional data analysis systems, which collect data from multiple sources and consolidate it in a central location for analytical tasks, Presto can query data where it resides without having to move it, said Starburst CEO Justin Borgman in an interview with CRN.

“That’s really what makes Presto unique,” Borgman said. “Because Presto doesn’t store data, it allows more flexibility.” He described the technology as functioning like a distributed database, only without the data storage function.

In addition to offering a free distribution of the open-source Presto software, Starburst markets Starburst Enterprise Presto, the vendor’s commercial edition with added management capabilities, security, pre-built connectors to data sources and support services. The company provides editions of the software running on the major cloud platforms: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform; as well as on Kubernetes.

The company’s business model is similar to that of Databricks, which builds its products around the Spark open-source unified analytics engine for large-scale data processing, and Confluent, which does likewise around the Kafka open-source data streaming technology.

A key demand driver for Starburst is the ability of its software to work across on-premises, cloud and hybrid-cloud systems, Borgman said. “I think what’s driving our success right now is the fact that a lot of companies are in transition between on premise and cloud.”

Starburst does have some competition on the horizon. Startup Ahana, which is developing Presto-based ad-hoc analytics software for debut later this year, exited stealth earlier this month and announced that it had raised $2.25 million in first-round financing.

There is also the danger of a fork in the Presto open-source technology due to competing Presto foundations: The Presto Software Foundation, founded by the technology’s original developers in 2018 who left Facebook to continue their work and co-founded Starburst, and the Presto Foundation, which was started by Facebook and is now part of The Linux Foundation.

Borgman said Starburst bootstrapped itself to profitability in its early years before scoring last year’s Series A funding led by Index Ventures. The most recent funding round was led by fund management firm Coatue with participation from Index Ventures.

Starburst is selling its software both direct and with partners, said Harrison Johnson, head of partnerships at the company, and in the interview with CRN he said Starburst is working to build itself into a partner-first company. In addition to establishing alliances with the major cloud platform vendors, Starburst works with systems integrators and solution providers including BlueMetal, part of channel giant Insight, and BigData Boutique.

Johnson said Starburst will continue expanding its partner ecosystem to include ISVs and managed service providers and is currently assembling a formal channel program to provide partners with training and enablement resources and sales incentives.


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