Data

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Strava, an app that tracks athletes’ runs, rides and routes using GPS from a smartphone or watch, has raised $18.5 million led by Sequoia. Sigma West and Madrone Capital Partners also participated in the round, bring Strava to $50 million raised in all. Strava is an interesting company because it’s providing a service to the athletes that download the app, but also anonymizes and then uses the data it collects to help cities like London understand where natural pedestrian and riding routes are. This is a great example of how the internet of things makes it possible to collect cheap and actionable data.

Twitter has open sourced a tool that it uses to detect spikes in time-series data, in order to make sure it’s able to react to issues with its servers, applications or other systems that might affect the site’s performance. The company also uses the tool, which is an R package called BreakoutDetection, to track large upticks in engagement during big events such as the Super Bowl. According to a blog post detailing BreakoutDetection, Twitter created it in order to deal with the mass of data and relative commonality of anomalies associated with running large-scale systems.

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The Google-owned artificial intelligence outfit DeepMind has revealed a partnership with Oxford University that involves a “substantial donation” to set up a research relationship with the venerable institution’s computer science and engineering departments, and the acquisition of two Oxford spin-off startups. One, Dark Blue Labs, is working on deep learning techniques for understanding natural language; it was founded earlier this year by professors Nando de Freitas and Phil Blunsom, and doctors Edward Grefenstette and Karl Moritz Hermann. The other, Vision Factory, was founded by Dr Karen Simonyan, Max Jaderberg and Prof Andrew Zisserman to work on visual object and text recognition, again using deep learning. According to a Thursday post by DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis, the three professors will continue working part-time at Oxford.

Big data startup ThoughtSpot said Tuesday that its core product, the ThoughtSpot Relational Search Appliance, is now available to the general public. ThoughtSpot wants to bring a Google-like search experience for data analytics with its hardware appliance, which contains an in-memory database and a custom-built search engine. When a user types in keywords into the search interface, ThoughtSpot can predict what a user wants to find and run SQL queries based on the search. The startup — whose founding team includes former members of Nutanix, Google and Yahoo — landed $30 million in funding in June.

StackIQ, a startup that specializes in automating and managing big data clusters, has taken in a $6 million series B funding round. Grayhawk Capital, Keshif Ventures, DLA Piper and OurCrowd were new investors in this funding round alongside Anthem Venture Partners and Avalon Ventures. The cluster management space has seen some action in recent months. Bright Computing, which sells hardware-agnostic Linux cluster management software, took in $14.5 million in June. In August, Google partnered up with Mesosphere to allow Google Compute Engine users to easily spin up self-managing clusters.

A Mountain View, California, startup called Waterline Data Science has raised $7 million from Menlo Ventures and Sigma West for its software that helps users make more sense of data stored inside Hadoop. Its premise is that while it’s easy to load lots of data into Hadoop, it’s often hard for users to find the stuff they want or to know where it came from. Waterline helps inventory data based on factors such as is file type, sensitivity level or history. The company’s executives come from Informatica, Teradata and IBM.

Wit.AI, a startup building an API platform for speech recognition, has raised a $3 million seed round, led by Andreessen Horowitz. Ignition Partners, NEA, A-Grade, SVAngel, Eric Hahn, Alven Capital, and TenOneTen also contributed. We covered Wit.AI in May, detailing its plans to build a machine-learning-powered API service that developers can use to bring voice commands to their applications or connected devices.  We will, of course, be talking all about the devices that could benefit from such a platform at our Structure Connect conference next week in San Francisco.

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