17 Sep 2019

Trifacta’s Data Wrangling – A modern approach to data quality and preparation

Saad Siddiqui

Principal at Telstra Ventures

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When professors Joe Hellerstein, Sean Kandel, and Jeff Heer decided in 2012 to start a new software company focused on making the process of cleaning and preparing data more intuitive and efficient, they held a belief that all decisions are only as good as the data they are based on. But they probably didn’t imagine that their company would pioneer the entirely new technology category of data preparation and establish Trifacta as the leading vendor within it. At the time they launched Trifacta, they were competing with dozens of other startups and legacy vendors trying to do the same thing.

With so many companies in the space, it can be hard for any of them to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Naturally, some will fail, while others will thrive. Trifacta is one such example of a data preparation company that is thriving.

This is because it was able to set itself apart with its unique approach to data preparation, which it refers to as data wrangling. Trifacta defines data wrangling as the “process of cleaning, structuring and enriching raw data into a desired format for better decision making in less time.”

One challenge that companies often face is that they collect data from their customers, but then struggle to actually do anything with that data. And if a company has a large volume of data that it can’t analyze, then that data is essentially useless. The process of cleaning up data for analysis can often be lengthy and resource-intensive, making it cost-prohibitive for certain companies. Trifacta’s data wrangling solutions allow organizations to speed up the process, making it more accessible for companies.

Leading the company to greatness

Prior to starting Trifacta, Hellerstein, Kandel, and Heer had been working together for over a decade on joint research. Hellerstein had been working on data-centric systems at UC Berkeley. At Stanford, Kandel and Heer had been working together developing tools for data transformation and discovery. Their joint work led to the creation of Data Wrangler, which in a matter of months had tens of thousands of downloads and ultimately led the three researchers to start a company around that product.

In 2014, they brought on Adam Wilson, previously at Informatica, as CEO. Wilson then joined forces with a number of other key players from Informatica, including Dan Niemann (VP of Field Operations), Sachin Chawla (VP of Engineering), Wei Zheng (VP of Products), and Ron Papas (VP of Business Development).

At Informatica, this team had helped scale the business to $1.2 billion in revenue. Since joining Trifacta, they’ve helped the company scale to where it is today.

A new era for Trifacta

Today, we are happy to be a part of that continuing growth. Telstra Ventures has led a new $100 million Series E funding round for the company, alongside current and new participating investors including Accel, Greylock, Ignition, Cathay Capital, Google, Energy Impact Partners, Infosys, ABN AMRO, BMW iVentures and other strategic partners. This brings the company’s total funding up to $204 million to date.

There is a seismic shift happening in how data management problems are solved, we are seeing a change in who solves the problem, what problems are solved, how these problems are solved and where these problems are solved are changing.

  • Who: The IT organizations are looking to empower the business analysts, data scientists and engineers, but need to maintain control of the governance of their data.
  • What: The problems being solved are new and require working with more data because as enterprises try to capture more data across various sources, they need to be able to make critical decisions on many more facets of their business than before.
  • How: In the past, these jobs were done by central IT using one relational database, data warehouse, ETL tool and analytics application. In today’s world there is a rise in databases, warehouses / data lakes, and analytics tools. This has put a choke hold on the existing process causing business units to set up their own workflows and processes to move faster.
  • Where: Enterprises are utilizing cloud-based applications and databases, on-premises applications and data lakes. The analytics process needs to happen where the data lives.

These changes have resulted in a multi-billion dollar opportunity and Trifacta is a team that has the knowledge and capabilities to capture this market. I am personally really excited about partnering with the key architects and my former colleagues from Informatica, which is a team that has solved more data management problems than anyone in the industry.

In addition to its successful funding round, Trifacta has also nearly doubled its revenue year-over-year since expanding its leadership team. In its fiscal year 2019, which ended in January, it experienced almost 100% increase in revenue, and more than doubled its cloud-based revenue.

It has also nearly tripled its customer base. In that same fiscal year, the company experienced a 130% net revenue renewal rate. Trifacta’s solutions are in use at companies such as Consensus Corp, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Prudential, Kaiser Permanente, Glaxo Smith Kleine, Roche Pharmaceutical, American Airlines, NASA, and the CIA. Around 12,000 companies are currently using its data wrangling tools.

This massive growth is likely in part due to the fact that it is one of the only data preparation providers that supports all major cloud vendors. It is also in part because of the current market conditions, which will only continue to work in Trifacta’s favor. According to Gartner, the data preparation market is expected to grow about 20% in the next few years. Gartner also predicts that by 2020, data preparation solutions will be a part of at least 50% of data integration efforts.

“This past year was a banner year for Trifacta in terms of growth and industry recognition but I am most excited about the momentum we’re building for the future. The industry megatrends of machine learning, artificial intelligence and cloud are all fueling the need for modern data preparation,” said Adam Wilson, CEO of Trifacta. “Trifacta has never been in a better position as a business to take advantage of the massive market opportunity ahead of us. We’re excited that global industry leaders like New York Life, GlaxoSmithKline and Deutsche Boerse are using Trifacta as the foundation of their analytics modernization initiatives.”

The company has been able to do what so few can actually achieve. It has become the data preparation tool of choice for many organizations. Forrester named it a leader in The Forrester Wave: Data Preparation Tools several times, Ovum ranked it as the number one data preparation solution in its decision matrix, and it was selected as an IDC Innovator, to name a few.

It will use the money from this funding round to build on its prior successes. It plans on scaling its go-to-market strategy and improving its line of products. And while the company has already seen so much growth, this is only the beginning. Telstra Ventures expects that this new round of funding will help the company reach new levels of success and open new opportunities for data scientists around the world.



Author: Saad Siddiqui, Principal at Telstra Ventures

Saad joined Telstra Ventures in 2016 and focuses on early to late stage venture investments in enterprise and infrastructure. He has led TV’s investments in NS1, Ripcord, Cofense, Incorta and Boomtown.

Saad enjoys helping enterprise technology teams tackle business challenges of creating a product that users love and scaling up their business.

Prior to joining Telstra Ventures, Saad was an executive at Informatica where he led various acquisitions, venture investments, partnerships and product strategy. Earlier in his career, Saad worked at Cisco Ventures & Corporate Development and worked as an investment banker at RBC Capital Markets and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.