Mar
23
2020
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Startups are helping cloud infrastructure customers avoid vendor lock-in

For much of the history of enterprise technology, companies tended to buy from a single vendor because it made managing the entire affair much easier while giving them a “single throat to choke” when something went wrong. On the flip side, it also put customers at the mercy of said vendor — and it wasn’t always pretty.

As we move deeper into the cloud model, many IT pros are looking for more flexibility than they had in the past, avoiding the vendor lock-in from the previous generation of enterprise tech, and what being beholden to a single vendor could mean for the bottom line and their own flexibility.

This is something that comes up frequently in discussions about moving workloads from one cloud to another, and is sometimes referred to as a multi-cloud approach. Customers are loath to leave their workloads in the hands of one vendor again and repeat the mistakes of the past. They are looking to have the same flexibility on the infrastructure side that they are getting in the SaaS world, where companies tend to purchase best-of-breed from multiple vendors.

That means, they want the freedom to move workloads between clouds, but that’s not always as easy a prospect as it might seem, and it’s an area where startups could help lead the way.

What’s the problem?

What’s stopping customers from just moving data and applications between clouds? It turns out that there is a complex interlinking of public cloud APIs that help the applications and data work in tandem. If you want to pull out of one public cloud, it’s not a simple matter of just migrating to the next one.

Feb
09
2020
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After $479M round on $12.4B valuation, Snowflake CEO says IPO is next step

Snowflake, the cloud-based data warehouse company, doesn’t tend to do small rounds. On Friday night word leaked out about its latest mega round. This one was for $479 million on a $12.4 billion valuation. That’s triple the company’s previous $3.9 billion valuation from October 2018, and CEO Frank Slootman suggested that the company’s next finance event is likely an IPO.

Dragoneer Investment Group led the round along with new investor Salesforce Ventures. Existing Snowflake investors Altimeter Capital, ICONIQ Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia, and Sutter Hill Ventures also participated. The new round brings the total raised to over $1.4 billion, according to PitchBook data.

All of this investment begs the question when this company goes public. As you might expect, Slootman is keeping his cards close to the vest, but he acknowledges that is the next logical step for his organization, even if he is not feeling pressure to make that move right now.

“I think the earliest that we could actually pull that trigger is probably early- to mid-summer timeframe. But whether we do that or not is a totally different question because we’re not in a hurry, and we’re not getting pressure from investors,” he said.

He grants that the pressure is about allowing employees to get their equity out of the company, which can only happen once the company goes public. “The only reason that there’s always a sense of pressure around this is because it’s important for employees, and I’m not minimizing that at all. That’s a legitimate thing. So, you know, it’s certainly a possibility in 2020 but it’s also a possibility the year thereafter. I don’t see it happening any later than that,” he said.

The company’s most recent round prior to this was $450 million in October 2018. Slootman says that he absolutely didn’t need the money, but the capital was there, and the chance to forge a relationship with Salesforce also was key in their thinking in taking this funding.

“At a high level, the relationship is really about allowing Salesforce data to be easily accessed inside Snowflake. Not that it’s impossible to do that today because there are lots of tools that will help you do that, but this relationship is about making that seamless and frictionless, which we find is really important,” Slootman said.

Snowflake now has relationships with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and has a broad content strategy to have as much quality data (like Salesforce) on the platform. Slootman says that this helps induce a network effect, while helping move data easily between major cloud platforms, a big concern as more companies adopt a multiple cloud vendor strategy.

“One of the key distinguishing architectural aspects of Snowflake is that once you’re on our platform, it’s extremely easy to exchange data with other Snowflake users. That’s one of the key architectural underpinnings. So content strategy induces network effect which in turn causes more people, more data to land on the platform, and that serves our business model,” he said.

Slootman says investors want to be part of his company because it’s solving some real data interchange pain points in the cloud market, and the company’s growth shows that in spite of its size, that continues to attract new customers at high rate.

“We just closed off our previous fiscal year which ended last Friday, and our revenue grew at 174%. For the scale that we are, this by far the fastest growing company out there…So, that’s not your average asset,” he said.

The company has 3400 active customers, which he defines as customers who were actively using the platform in the last month. He says that they have added 500 new customers alone in the last quarter.

Jun
25
2019
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Snowflake co-founder and president of product Benoit Dageville is coming to TC Sessions: Enterprise

When it comes to a cloud success story, Snowflake checks all the boxes. It’s a SaaS product going after industry giants. It has raised bushels of cash and grown extremely rapidly — and the story is continuing to develop for the cloud data lake company.

In September, Snowflake’s co-founder and president of product Benoit Dageville will join us at our inaugural TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise event on September 5 in San Francisco.

Dageville founded the company in 2012 with Marcin Zukowski and Thierry Cruanes with a mission to bring the database, a market that had been dominated for decades by Oracle, to the cloud. Later, the company began focusing on data lakes or data warehouses, massive collections of data, which had been previously stored on premises. The idea of moving these elements to the cloud was a pretty radical notion in 2012.

It began by supporting its products on AWS, and more recently expanded to include support for Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

The company started raising money shortly after its founding, modestly at first, then much, much faster in huge chunks. Investors included a Silicon Valley who’s who such as Sutter Hill, Redpoint, Altimeter, Iconiq Capital and Sequoia Capital .

Snowflake fund raising by round. Chart: Crunchbase

Snowflake fund raising by round. Chart: Crunchbase

The most recent rounds came last year, starting with a massive $263 million investment in January. The company went back for more in October with an even larger $450 million round.

It brought on industry veteran Bob Muglia in 2014 to lead it through its initial growth spurt. Muglia left the company earlier this year and was replaced by former ServiceNow chairman and CEO Frank Slootman.

TC Sessions: Enterprise (September 5 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center) will take on the big challenges and promise facing enterprise companies today. TechCrunch’s editors will bring to the stage founders and leaders from established and emerging companies to address rising questions, like the promised revolution from machine learning and AI, intelligent marketing automation and the inevitability of the cloud, as well as the outer reaches of technology, like quantum computing and blockchain.

Tickets are now available for purchase on our website at the early-bird rate of $395.

Student tickets are just $245 – grab them here.

We have a limited number of Startup Demo Packages available for $2,000, which includes four tickets to attend the event.

For each ticket purchased for TC Sessions: Enterprise, you will also be registered for a complimentary Expo Only pass to TechCrunch Disrupt SF on October 2-4.

Jul
12
2018
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Snowflake expands beyond Amazon to Azure cloud

Snowflake, the cloud data warehouse, announced a partnership with Microsoft today to expand their offering to the Azure cloud. The new product is still in Preview for now.

Given that Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia worked at Microsoft for more than 20 years, it’s certainly not surprising that Microsoft is the company’s second partner after working with only Amazon since its inception. But Muglia says it was really about seeing customer demand in the marketplace more than any nostalgia or connections at Microsoft. In fact, he says the company is on boarding one to two new Azure customers a day right now.

The plan is to open up a private preview today, then become generally available some time in the fall when they work out all of the kinks involved with porting their service to another provider.

The partnership didn’t happen overnight. It’s been developing for over a year and that’s because Muglia says Azure isn’t quite as mature as Amazon in some ways and it required some engineering cooperation to make it all work.

“We had to work with Microsoft on some of the things that we needed to make [our product] work [on their platform], particularly around the way we work with Azure Blob Storage that we really had to do a little differently on Azure. So there are changes we needed to make internally in our product to make it work,” he explained.

Overall though the two company’s engineers have worked together to solve those issues and Muglia says that when the Azure version becomes generally available in the Fall, it should basically be the same product they offer on Amazon, although there are still some features they are trying to make work on in the Preview. “Our goal is to have literally the same product on Azure as on Amazon, and we are very confident we’ll get there with Microsoft,” he said.

For Snowflake of course, it represents a substantial market expansion because now they can sell to companies working on Azure and Amazon and that has opened up a whole new pipeline of customers. Azure is the number two cloud provider behind Amazon.

The interesting aspect of all this is that Amazon and Microsoft compete in the cloud of course, but Snowflake is also competing with each cloud provider too with their own product. Yet this kind of partnership has become standard in the cloud. You have to work across platforms, then compete where it makes sense.

“Almost all of the relationships that we have in the industry, we have some element of competition with them, and so this is a normal mode of operation,” he said.

Jan
25
2018
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Snowflake lands massive $263 million investment on unicorn valuation

 Snowflake, the cloud-based data warehouse service, announced an enormous investment round today, pulling in a whopping $263 million on a unicorn valuation of $1.5 billion. The round was led by a trio of big-name Silicon Valley VC firms including existing investors Iconiq Capital and Altimeter Capital and new investor Sequoia Capital. Today’s announcement comes on top of the $100… Read More

Sep
06
2017
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Snowflake’s newest cloud data warehouse takes aim at regulated industries

 Snowflake, makers of a cloud data warehouse service, announced a new virtual private product that should appeal to highly regulated companies like financial services and healthcare. In fact, the company also announced that one of the product’s earliest customers, Capital One, will be investing $5 million in Snowflake as a strategic investor as a result of this new approach. Most… Read More

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