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October 2, 2013

New Cloud BI Company Numerify Emerges from Stealth Mode

Alex Woodie

Prospective cloud BI software provider Numerify today announced it has closed an $8 million round of funding, and is on track to launch its first offering in the first half of 2014.

The Cupertino, California startup is not sharing a lot of technical detail about the product and cloud offering it’s building. That information is being withheld until the official launch next year. But co-founder and CEO Gaurav Rewari did share with Datanami some high-level information about the company and its aims.

From a broad-view perspective, Numerify’s goal is to make cloud-based BI and analytics as easy to use as cloud-based operational systems, like Salesforce.com, Workday, and ServiceNow. The big challenge that Numerify needs to overcome to achieve this, Rewari says, is to simplify the data integration process, and to strip as much hand-coding and professional services out of the equation as possible.

Data integration was hard enough in the old days, when all of an organization’s data was on-premise. “Somehow, through blood, sweat, and tears, we solved that in the on-premise world,” says Rewari, a 20-year BI industry veteran who signed on with MicroStrategy early on and most recently was in charge of Oracle’s business analytics portfolio.

“Now you’re looking at having to do the same again in the emerging cloud landscape,” Rewari continues. “Would you do it the same way, with armies of consultants and IT staff? Or would you potentially be open to a solution where a large part of the work has been done and is offered to you as a service? That’s the heart of our value proposition.”

That value proposition has already attracted a good deal of attention in The Valley. The company just completed a first round of venture funding that netted the firm $8 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners and various angel investors, including Frank Slootman, CEO of ServiceNow; Amit Singh, president of Google Enterprise; Deep Nishar, SVP of Products and User Experience at Linkedin; James Ramsey, former EVP of Worldwide Sales and Distribution at NetSuite, and Abhay Parasnis, who is currently the President and COO of Kony, and previously worked at Oracle and Microsoft Azure. A second round is expected.

The company doesn’t yet have a website (or at least didn’t before the official launch today at 5 p.m. PDT), but it does have 50 employees spilt between Cupertino and India, including people who worked at MicroStrategy, Hyperion, Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft, and who have “deep expertise in building analytic products and data warehouses,” Rewari says. The other co-founder of Numerify, vice president of development Srikant Gokulnatha, most recently led development of the Hyperion product line at Oracle.

Numerify isn’t the first BI software company to tackle the challenge of integrating cloud and on-premise data into a single, coherent whole. But the company is hoping that its all-star roster of BI industry veterans, venture funding, and market timing will combine to create something novel and profitable. The giant hairball that is data integration is not getting smaller, and should provide plenty of attack surface for anybody to take a whack at it for the foreseeable future.

“The data integration challenge has just gotten a lot trickier because the islands of data are not just in the on-premise world,” Rewari says. “With cloud applications, you don’t see the database underneath. What you get is access to their APIs.  There’s a plethora of such APIs, and they’re at different levels of maturity. They have different standards when it comes to how often you can pull data out of the source, what’s the byte size, and different protocols associated with it. And so all of those need to be addressed before you can build a system that reliably extracts data from these cloud sources and puts it in one central store.”

But just getting to the data in a reliable and repeatable way is not enough. Ideally, a cloud-based analytic system is also flexible enough to adapt to changes that may be made on the operational side, such as expanding the number of stages in a Salesforce.com pipeline. This was also a source of millions of billable hours for consultants in the on-premise world, and an area that Numerify sees as ripe for exploitation through the power of software.

So what’s up with the name? While it’s a new-school big data world, the folks behind Numerify are a little bit old school in their thinking. “In choosing a name, we thought, Why not choose something that goes back to the original spirit of BI? The goals haven’t changed. The old adage of you can’t changed what you can’t measure still applies. BI systems, at the end of the day, are really business measurement systems. The ability to boil or distill the various actions and operations of a busyness across sales, marketing, finance down to meaningful numbers, so we chose Numerify.”

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