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March 30, 2016

AI Services Firm Bonsai Wins Strata Startup Showcase

An artificial intelligence (AI) startup out of Berkeley, California called won the Startup Showcase at the Strata + Hadoop World today. The second and third-place winners were also announced, as was the winner of the audience choice award.

Bonsai ( has created a cloud-based platform where users can build and deploy AI services, as well as a marketplace where the services can be bought and sold. Key components of its platform include the core intelligence server called BRAIN, which customers program with a high-level language called Inkling that aims to abstract customers from underlying AI complexity. Customers develop with Inkling within Bonsai’s visual development environment, called Mastermind.

Bonsai says its service (which is not yet available for beta testing; you can sign up on a waiting list) works with both batch and programmatically generated data, as well as streaming data. A key element of the platform is that models built with BRAIN are reusable, much like a library for a language, the company says. The idea is to generate a marketplace where these reusable models can be bought and sold. “You can earn money when other programmers stream data through your model,” the company says on its website.

Picking up the audience choice award was StrongDM (, a Menlo Park, California company that develops data security software suite that handles database permissions, data masking, and auditing.

StrongDM aims to solve one of the most vexing data security issues plaguing companies: granting users access to multiple disparate databases. The company says it’s able to “create, manage, and revoke access with a single click.” Similarly, it’s “click-to-cleanse” software aims to simplify data masking challenges, while its auditing software gives administrators the power to check user’s permissions from one place.

Winning second place in the Startup Showcase is QuiltData (, a Web-based data sharing and collaboration service that’s been called “Git for data.” A slew of interesting data sets across a broad range of topics are available from the company’s website, ranging from the Hepg2 collection of genetic data to datasets about asteroids. The service is free to join,

Third place went to SigOpt (, a San Francisco company that aims to simplify the development of machine learning models through an API. “Instead of using trial-and-error to find the best parameters for your system,” the company says on its website, “SigOpt will guide you to the best version of your product as fast as possible, saving you time and money.”

Other finalists for the Startup Showcase included Apache Zeppelin, Atipica, Crate.IO, Immuta, Logical Clocks AB, and Wearless Tech (Cocoon Cam).

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