Health care startup Welltok, which has developed a platform to help consumers make wise choices about their health, has raised a $22 million Series C round of venture capital. New Enterprise Associates led the round, but IBM (via its new Watson group) and Qualcomm also pitched in. One of Welltok’s products, CafeConcierge, uses Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities as the basis of its personalized medicine approach. IBM, of course, is betting big on Watson as a source of future revenue and has vowed to invest $100 million in companies willing to integrate Watson into their products.
A robotics startup called Neurala has received a patent (No. 8,648,867) for a GPU-based system designed to run artificial neural network models. The patent covers the physical architecture of the system, which Neurala calls an “accelerator,” as well as aspects of data processing and user experience. It’s not clear whether the patent, which dates back to 2006, will affect others artificial intelligence efforts currently underway. Neurala’s business revolves around providing computer vision and navigation intelligence for robots, but GPUs are the computers of choice for many deep learning projects.
Netflix is the latest company to acknowledge that it’s researching new approaches to artificial intelligence that could help improve its products. Although it hasn’t said where it might apply deep learning models, the company has plenty of image and text data to learn from. Read more »
MapR is continuing along its path to Hadoop glory with new support for the YARN resource manager and a direct integration with the HP Vertica analytic database. In such a competitive space, every little edge matters. Read more »
Red Hat and Hortonworks are integrating a number of technologies to give joint customers a more seamless experience running their Hadoop workloads on private cloud or virtualized infrastructure. In an upstart market worth billions, it helps to have friends like Red Hat. Read more »
Splice Machine, a startup promising a SQL-on-Hadoop database that can handle both transactional and analytic workloads, has closed a $15 million series B round of venture capital from InterWest Partners, along with Mohr Davidow Ventures. Supporting transactional workloads would put Splice Machine in a good position among the glut of companies and projects letting users perform SQL operations on Hadoop, because most are strictly for analytics. The big question for Splice Machine, though, might be whether companies actually want to run transactions on that data or whether they’re willing to stick to a tried-and-true database for that.
Data means a lot to Ford, informing everything from product design to business intelligence. In this interview from the Structure Show podcast, Ford’s top data scientist talks all about how Ford approaches everything from deploying Hadoop to hiring the right people. Read more »
Twitter is offering up access to its entire corpus of tweets to a select group of researchers through a new data grant program. But the program raises a simmering question over whether such valuable data shouldn’t be more open in the first place. Read more »
MemSQL, the database startup from two former Facebook engineers, has already raised a lot of money and roped in some big customers. Now it’s looking to broaden its footprint with a flash-optimized columnar store to complement its in-memory row-based one. Read more »
Say what you will about Satya Nadella, but don’t say he doesn’t understand the value of Microsoft’s technology. In an era where it’s competing against Google and Amazon to become the default digital platform company, that’s more important than ever. Read more »
With a founding team out of Nutanix, Google and Yahoo, ThoughtSpot is pushing a new in-memory analytics and visualization engine delivered via appliance. Appliances can be risky, but when they work, they work. Read more »
Tableau had a huge fourth quarter and year in 2013, nearly doubling its year-over-year revenues for both periods, and putting it on a collision course with its larger competitors in a few years’ time. Read more »
Making sense of big data can be hard enough without spending untold hours having to write code or manually clean datasets that simply won’t work with existing BI tools. Trifacta is trying to automate that process with a new software product it announced on Tuesday. Read more »
A new research paper out of Carnegie Mellon University suggests that Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix and other membership-based websites will see steady activity in daily active users while others will flounder. How their initial growth happens might play a big role in long-term success. Read more »
Twitter is fast becoming a platform that’s far more valuable for marketers, politicians, traders and journalists than for any given individual user. That’s because if you know how to use it, the breadth of raw data Twitter offers via its firehose can tell a lot of stories. Read more »
Troubled flash storage vendor Violin Memory has a new president and CEO, just months after a lackluster IPO and an ensuing scandal that resulted in the termination of its previous CEO and the departure of multiple executives. The company’s new leader, Kevin DeNuccio, has led infrastructure companies before, mostly in the networking space. He was CEO of a privately held London-based company called Metaswitch Networks, and before that was president and CEO of Redback Networks when Ericsson acquired it in 2006.
Cloud backup provider Backblaze has moved into a new data center in Sacramento capable of storing 500 petabytes, or half an exabyte, of data. It’s not full yet (the company was storing 75 petabytes as of November), but the pace is picking up and it probably will be sooner than some might expect. The crazy part is that Backblaze isn’t even that big a company or that widely used a service. Facebook alone is building enough capacity to house 3 exabytes of data in each of its 3 cold storage facilities. Sometimes, I can’t help but think that we’re just digitally hoarding.
Brian Burke followed up a career in the Navy by starting Advanced NFL Stats, and now his predictive models are powering the New York Times’ 4th Down Bot. Fans already love this kind of analysis, but will coaches ever come around? Read more »
Mailchimp chief data scientist John Foreman came on the Structure Show this week to report on his recent trip to Disneyland. It turns out the Magic Kingdom does indeed use data to deliver a personalized experience — and we’re fine with it because it’s fun(ish). Read more »
D-Wave Systems believes it has a real quantum computer and that future generations of its processor will prove what it’s capable of. What’s more, the company plans to deliver all the benefits of quantum computer via API. Read more »
Facebook might have launched the Open Compute Project to force server vendors to build higher-effiency gear, but it’s having a much greater impact than even Facebook anticipated. Read more »
Google spend a little less on infrastructure during the fourth quarter than during the third quarter, but it still spent a lot. Like $2.25 billion a lot. Read more »
Cloud collaboration star Box has filed for an IPO, according to a report in Quartz. It would be a wise move for the company, which is riding mega goodwill — and mega challenges — as it scales its business and its infrastructure. Read more »
A pair of MIT graduate students is working on an interesting system they think can help speed the process of analyzing data without putting it on expensive DRAM. The project uses a cluster of flash drives to store the data, with each one connected to a field-programmable gate array, or FPGA. The FPGA is really the key because it can perform calculations on the data in place before it’s sent over the network to the main processor. The architecture could potentially underpin a functional interactive database system for budget-conscious, data-heavy fields such as science.
Facebook’s data scientists have crunched the numbers (well, the text) and — if fan sentiment is any indicator — it looks like Denver is the Super Bowl favorite. Over the course of the season, and the playoffs, teams garnering more positive words win more often. Read more »
This a really thoughtful post from Trifacta Co-founder and CEO Joe Hellerstein (who’s clearly ramping up for the big unveil of Trifacta’s product soon) about the transformation of data science skills. As someone who sometimes tries to do work with data — and often speaks with people who really do work with data — I couldn’t agree more. There are tools that let “business users” or even journalists do valuable stuff, but they’ll always be many steps behind what folks trained in math and computer science can do. And data transformation sucks for everyone.
Everyone’s more interested in artificial intelligence since news broke that Google acquired a secretive startup called DeepMind. The technology has big promise, but make no mistake: It’s not sentient yet, and Google is far from alone in its quest. Read more »
During the Open Compute Summit in San Jose, Facebook VP of Engineering Jay Parikh shared some big statistics for the company’s cold storage efforts, including those for a protoytpe Blu-ray system capable of storing a petabyte of data today. Read more »
Altiscale, the Hadoop-as-a-service startup co-founded by former Yahoo CTO Raymie Stata that launched in June, is now offering its Data Cloud platform to the public. It’s a cloud service in the same vein as Amazon Elastic MapReduce, although it’s probably more similar to fellow startup Qubole. Altiscale is custom-built to run Hadoop workloads (or Spark, or most anything that can run easily on YARN), is fully managed and automatically scales resources to meet the demands of a job. “There hasn’t been a customer yet that we haven’t been able to improve reliability for,” Stata told me recently, primarily by improving efficiency and eliminating failures.
IO, which is known for its modular data center designs and specialized data center management software, is getting into the cloud provider space with a new service called IO.Cloud. It’s very open at the foundational level, at least, running OpenStack software on Open Compute hardware. Read more »
The open source search tool Elasticsearch has been downloaded more than 6 million times and counts some household names among its customer base. Now, the company behind the software is launching its first commercial product: a management console called Marvel. Read more »
We have chosen eight of our favorite startups from 2013 as winners of the inaugural Gigaom Structure Data Awards, but readers will also have their chance to vote for the Readers’ Choice awards. Read more »
This isn’t your daddy’s, um, GoDaddy. The company is overhauling its technology platform in a mission to be a sort of Robin Hood for the world’s small businesses. It will take technology from the largest companies and bring it to the small ones. Read more »
Udacity Founder and CEO — and famed inventor of self-driving cars and wearable technologies at Google — came on the Structure Show podcast this week to talk about the promise, limitations and future of online education. Here’s what he had to say. Read more »
One of the big themes at our Structure Data conference in March is the advent of new techniques to make sense of new data sources. One of the most-promising is video, which had value well beyond capturing crimes and making us laugh on YouTube. Read more »
The White House announced on Thursday that it will form a working group to study big data and report on its implications to privacy, policy and society. That might be easier said than done. Read more »
The National Football League and General Electric announced on Thursday a list of 16 projects that will each receive $300,000 to advance their research in the field of diagnosing and preventing head injuries. Among the selected projects is a collaboration between the University of California, San Francisco, and machine learning startup Ayasdi to analyze CAT scan data to predict which players might have persistent symptoms. Another involves the Purdue Neurotrama Group and a company called BrainScope that uses machine learning algorithms to power a device that it hopes can detect head injuries on the sidelines. As everything from algorithms to computing power improve, machine learning is actually becoming fairly common in medical research.
A Cambridge, Mass.-based startup called Kensho has raised a $10 million seed round from a group of investors that includes General Catalyst, NEA, Accel Partners and Google Ventures. The company’s product, called Warren (as in Warren Buffett, I presume), is a natural-language search engine for data on financial markets. You (assuming you’re a banker or very sophisticated day trader) type in a question — an example from the company’s website is “Which aerospace companies rally following major breakthroughs in drone technology?” — and it returns results in the form of data. It looks like a smart product from a smart team, especially if the UI and visualizations are as good as the algorithms.
Prize money aside, Statwing’s new contest to find the best insights from a 400-plus-variable, 40,000-row social science dataset should at least be fun — there are a lot of interesting angles to explore — and is a great example of putting tools and data in the people’s hands. Read more »
Database startup MemSQL has been on fire since it launched in mid-2012, and now it has a lot more money to keep up that momentum. The company has closed an oversubscribed series B round worth $35 million. Read more »