Accel's $100 Million Fund Targets Big Data Innovators

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-11-08

Accel's $100 Million Fund Targets Big Data Innovators

NEW YORK-Big Data is getting paid.

That is a key message coming out of the Hadoop World conference here. On Nov. 7 Cloudera announced the receipt of a $40 million round of venture capital funding, and the very next day at Hadoop World, Accel Partners announced a $100 million fund to invest in Big Data companies.

At the show, Ping Li, a partner at Accel, announced the Accel Big Data Fund, calling it "incredibly important given the explosion of Big Data." The new initiative's goal is to fund transformative early stage and growth companies throughout the Big Data ecosystem, from next-generation storage and data management platforms to a wide range of revolutionary software applications and services-i.e., data analytics, business intelligence, collaboration, mobile, vertical applications and many more, Accel said.

Indeed, speaker after speaker at Hadoop World spoke of the veritable "explosion" of data and that knowing how to tap into it is key to both user organizations and companies that can help with the transition to a world of Big Data support.

"If we're successful, we believe there are many billion-dollar software companies that can be created over the next few years," Li said. "This is a big market; it cuts across all verticals. We believe a Big Data platform such as Hadoop is part of a big shift."

Enterprises and IT departments are dealing with unprecedented volume, variety and velocity of data and are looking for new ways to efficiently store, manage and extract value for their businesses, Accel officials said. Newly proliferating unstructured and semi-structured data types are reshaping traditional data platforms and technologies, leading to a radical shift in the relational database era and the applications born from it. Accel's Big Data Fund will bring innovators and entrepreneurs into this hot ecosystem of companies helping to address the opportunities around Big Data with new technologies and through collaboration with other industry leaders like Cloudera.

Accel has helped entrepreneurs build more than 300 successful companies, including Actuate, AdMob, Atlassian, comScore, Etsy, Facebook, Groupon and JBoss. And as an Accel-backed company, Cloudera's success has helped bear out Accel's early interest in the Big Data space.

"It is amazing how this whole space has taken off, but we predicted this when we got started," Mike Olson, CEO of Cloudera, told eWEEK. The Cloudera-sponsored Hadoop World has grown in size every year, with more than 1,500 in attendance this year. "We're already looking at bigger spaces for next year," Olson said.

"Big Data consistently drives innovation across our existing portfolio companies today, and with the Big Data Fund we are empowering a new set of entrepreneurs to be able to catch this wave," Li said in a statement. "As Big Data platforms such as Hadoop and others continue to gain rapid adoption and become more mainstream, we are seeing an exciting wave of next-generation business applications emerge. These new applications-whether they address business intelligence or mobile or collaboration-will harness Big Data to deliver unique value and business insight to enterprises and end users. Big Data is the future of IT, and we believe Big Data will drive the next generation of multibillion-dollar software companies. Vendors that effectively pave the way for Big Data to be leveraged for ever-evolving business use cases, such as Cloudera-the leader in Apache Hadoop-based software and services and an Accel-backed company-will determine the winners in this next wave of cloud computing."

"Next-generation Big Data technology innovation will be pervasive and cut across all layers of the Big Data 'stack'-from hardware components like SSDs, to data organization and management solutions like Hadoop and NoSQL, to applications including analytics, business intelligence and collaboration," said Benjamin S. Woo, program vice president, storage systems and lead analyst, Big Data, at IDC. "Big Data is creating a lasting revolution in data centers across all vertical markets, paving the way for a new set of applications to be built on new Big Data platforms rather than legacy relational databases."

Big Data Fund Partnering With Thought Leaders


To effectively support Big Data entrepreneurs and foster community, the Big Data Fund is partnering with thought leaders throughout the industry to help drive innovation, including data scientists, software entrepreneurs/technologists and academic researchers. Along these lines, Accel Partners is organizing a Big Data Conference in Silicon Valley to occur in spring 2012. The Accel Big Data Fund is aligned with Cloudera to give Fund-backed companies access to Cloudera's industry and customer insights, as well as advice on developing applications on the Apache Hadoop platform.

Accel will also collaborate closely with pioneering entrepreneurs and technologists in Big Data, who will lend their expertise as formal fund advisers. The advisors are  Hadoop creator Doug Cutting; Gil Ebaz, founder and CEO of Factual; Jeff Hammerbacher, chief scientist at Cloudera; Jeff Heer, assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University; Hilary Mason, chief scientist at; Jay Parikh, director of engineering at Facebook; and Kenny Van Zant, a member of the technical staff at Asana.

"The challenges facing enterprises as they struggle to capture, understand and use Big Data are enormous," Olson said in a statement. "The kind of high-speed innovation that can help meet those challenges demands the attention of smart, driven entrepreneurs with the resources they need to turn great ideas into products and services. We wholeheartedly support Accel Partners' commitment to providing the money, advice and relationships that can make that happen. We believe that the open-source Apache Hadoop community has built exactly the right platform to launch the next generation of great companies solving real business and social problems."

"Accel has laid a solid foundation for Big Data companies to get off the ground, including Couchbase, by providing crucial resources and taking an active role in operations, strategy, partnerships and recruiting," said Bob Wiederhold, president and CEO of Couchbase, in a statement. "With Accel's guidance and support, Couchbase has grown from a small open-source startup to the leading provider of NoSQL database technology, powering some of the world's largest Web applications, and thousands of others."

Meanwhile, in its Nov. 7 news, Cloudera announced the close a $40 million Series D funding round led by Frank Artale of Ignition Partners and joined by existing investors Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and In-Q-Tel. To support aggressive growth and increased momentum in the marketplace, Cloudera will use the funds to further expand its marketing and sales operations, and support key strategic initiatives, the company said.


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