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November 10, 2011

Shot in the Arm Coming for Big Data Startups


Accel Partners has decided to invest big in the future of big data—to the tune of $100 million. The funding group announced this week that they intend to spread the wealth across startups and cutting-edge companies building solutions to address the data deluge.

According to Ping Li, a partner at Accel, the group plans to go after some of the most interesting problems in the big data world. Among these, he cites infrastructure, storage, frameworks, and of course, the many new application avenues entrepreneurs can explore. While he says that the growth and maturity of Hadoop is propelling the big data ecosystem, he can foresee a day when “billion dollar software companies” are making their bread and butter by building on the Apache-born project.

Accel does seem to have the golden touch in the big data space. For instance, they are one of the leading forces that powers Hadoop distribution vendor, Cloudera. Just last week the investment firm pushed $40 million into the company during its Series D round.

Their desire to push Hadoop to the surface as much as possible is clear here, given the emphasis of this key element to their overall portfolio, which includes Cloudera, among a number of other vendors that cater to Hadoop or work within the Hadoop ecosystem.

Li says that if you look at their existing portfolio, they tend to spread themselves across two types of companies; those that generate large amounts of data, like Facebook, Groupon and Dropbox, for instance. On the other end, they tend to invest in those that are providing big data solutions. By this, he means companies like CouchBase or, on the hardware side, companies like Fusion-io.

Other trends that he and his colleagues are watching (outside of the Hadoop connection, of course) include those who are building big data solutions that address software-level needs. For instance, he says this could mean everything from developing new collaboration solutions built on data-intensive-ready platforms down to CRM or mobile applications.

Ping said the group is planning to hold a big data conference in Silicon Valley in the near future to help them identify key startups and vendors that are handling everything from infrastructure to analytics and beyond.

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