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February 9, 2016

Trifacta Tops Off with $35 Million Round as Big Data Sales Kick In

Alex Woodie

Data wrangling software developer Trifacta today announced that it took in another $35 million in venture funding, bringing the three-year-old company’s total funding to $76 million to date. The company’s CEO tells Datanami the money will be used to prime the pump on a sales machine that saw 700 percent growth last year.

“It was really a tremendous year for customer success with Trifacta and I think the financing will allow us to continue to expand our global presence,” says Adam Wilson, who took over the top job at Trifacta from co-founder Joe Hellerstein about a year ago. “This opportunity around next-gen analytics and Hadoop and big data is really exploding.”

More than 50 enterprises are paying Trifacta for access to its proprietary software, which uses machine learning algorithms and a GUI to accelerate the task of cleansing and preparing raw data for analyses. The company’s “logo sheet” includes such blue-chip names as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Proctor & Gamble, Juniper Networks, Sanofi, Kaiser Permanente, Pfizer, and PepsiCo.

And with the launch of the free Data Wrangler product in the fall—which so far has been adopted by 5,000 users–the company has a built-in pipeline to potentially expand the base of paying customers in the future.

The company, which employs more than 100 people across the United States and Europe, has big plans to ramp up sales on both continents. The company had not planned to tackle Europe until this year, but keen interest on the part of companies like RBS caused Trifacta to accelerate its plans, which culminated in the founding of an R&D center in Berlin, Germany, during the fourth quarter.

Wilson advocates a “balanced approach” for the $35 million, with customer acquisition and product development getting roughly equal treatment. “This certainly gives us a lot of runway,” he says. “With the adoption that we’re seeing and the growth in bookings, this is potentially the last round of financing that we’ll need. But a lot depends on how aggressively we invest in the business and how the economy holds up over time.”

The pummeling that Trifacta’s partner Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA) took last week–when it lost half of its market share, or about $1.3 billion, in a matter of hours after Tableau disappointed Wall Street on revenue growth and scaled back its 2016 revenue projections–clearly has to be on Wilson’s mind. But for now, Wilson is working on executing an aggressive growth strategy.

“I think we’re very much in early days of big data, IoT, and Hadoop and it makes sense for us to have an aggressive investment posture right now,” Wilson says. “We’ll keep an eye on how the market continues to expand and mature. But right now we feel that it’s appropriate to invest in the opportunity that’s rising up to meet us.”

It’s hard to peg the exact size of the global big data market. Some say it will be worth tens of billions in a few years, while others see it eventually encompassing most of the existing data warehousing market. But at the end of the day, Wilson is betting that every company with a big data analytics strategy will eventually need a power tool to handle a lot of the heavy lifting data scientists and data analysts currently do mostly by hand.

Even if some of the next-gen data visualization tool vendors like Tableau and Qlik (NASDAQ: QLIK) waver a bit in the near term, there’s a good argument to be made that there will be one or more winners in the middle, where Trifacta competes against a handful of other data prep toolmakers.

“You see this tremendous disruption in terms of what people are doing with storage and processing around Hadoop,” Wilson says, “and you see this incredible explosion in how they want to visualize information and apply algorithms to an ever-increasing diversity of data. And Trifacta is the piece in the middle that can connects the dots.”

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