Billion-Dollar Babies #11: 9 Unicorn Startups in The Big Data/Applied AI industries

James Dargan

Data Overload

Data. Data. Data. We can’t underestimate how important it is these days, especially for business. Because of this, the big data and applied AI industries are set to accelerate just like the data that is being shared online etc. across the globe.

Sectors of deep tech such as reinforcement learning, NLP and ML — including generative adversarial networks (GANs) — will see an uptake in use cases as the seemingly infinite number of data points rise, too. According to an excellent article on TechJury by Christo Petrov, here are some interesting facts about big data in 2021:

1) Google gets over 3.5 billion searches daily. (Source: Internet Live Stats)

2) WhatsApp users exchange up to 65 billion messages daily. (Source: Connectiva Systems)

3) In 2020, every person generated 1.7 megabytes per second (Source: IBM)

4) 95% of businesses cite the need to manage unstructured data as a problem for their business. (Source: Forbes)

5) 45% of businesses worldwide are running at least one of their Big Data workloads in the cloud. (Source: ZD Net)

6) 80–90% of the data we generate today is unstructured. (Source: CIO)

Now, while these statistics vary from source and could be right or wrong as far as accuracy goes, a general pattern arises of how much data is being generated. Basically, more than our little brains could ever hope to process. To cope with it all, then, that’s where all the AI and ML tools come in handy — tools that more than a few big data and applied AI startups have already developed to create order from the chaos of big data overload.

In the last of the series, the Deep Tech Insider (DTI) will take a look at nine deep tech startups that have achieved unicorn status in the big data and applied AI industries.

1. Dataiku (Estimated valuation: $4.6B)

Dataiku is the platform for everyday AI to systemize their use of data and AI, driving diverse use cases from fraud detection to customer churn prevention, predictive maintenance to supply chain optimization, and everything in between.

Based in The Big Apple, Dataiku was founded in 2013 by Clément Stenac, Florian Douetteau, Marc Batty, and Thomas Cabrol.

Since its founding, the company has raised a total of $646.8 million in funding over 10 rounds. Its latest funding, a $400-million Series E round led by Tiger Global Management, was raised in August 2021 and brought Dataiku’s valuation to $4.6 billion, according to TechCrunch.

2. Confluent (Estimated valuation: ~ $11.B)

Confluent, a Mountain View, California-based startup, is pioneering a fundamentally new category of data infrastructure focused on data in motion based on its open-source Apache Kafka software. Its cloud-native offering is the foundational platform for data in motion — designed to be the intelligent connective tissue enabling real-time data, from multiple sources, to constantly stream across the organization.

The company was founded by former LinkedIn employees Jay Kreps, Neha Narkhede and Jun Rao in 2014 and has raised a total of $455.9 million in funding over five rounds. Confluent’s most recent funding, a $250-million Series E round, was led by Coatue and brought the company’s valuation to $4.5 billion.

In June of this year, Confluent IPO’d on the New York Stock Exchange and its valuation climbed to over $11 billion, according to Reuters.

3. DataRobot (Estimated valuation: $6.3B)

A Boston-based company founded in 2012 by Jeremy Achin and Thomas DeGodoy, DataRobot is the AI Cloud leader that delivers a unified platform for all users, data types and environments to accelerate the delivery of AI to production.

Amazingly, DataRobot has raised an incredible $1 billion in funding over twelve rounds. Its latest funding was raised in June 2021, a $300-million Series G round, was led by Altimeter Capital and Tiger Global Management.

According to Reuters, the round more than doubles DataRobot’s valuation to $6.3 billion.

4. Hive (Estimated valuation: $2B)

Dmitriy Karpman and Kevin Guo founded Hive, a San Francisco-based provider of cloud-based enterprise AI solutions to power the next wave of intelligent automation, in 2013.

The company has raised a total of $120.7 million in funding over five rounds. Its latest funding was in April 2021 from a Series D round, valued at $50 million and led by Glynn Capital Management.

The round gives Hive a valuation of $2 billion, according to a Business Wire release from April 21st, 2021.

5. Tractable (Estimated valuation: $1B)

Tractable is a software company that develops AI for accident and disaster recovery. Based in London, it was founded in 2014 by Adrien Cohen, Alexandre Dalyac and Razvan Ranca.

Tractable has raised a total of $119.9 million in funding over eight rounds since its inception. Its latest funding — led by Georgian and Insight Partners — came in June 2021 from a $60-million Series D round at a $1-billion valuation, according to a news release by TechCrunch.

6. Uptake Technologies (Estimated valuation: $2.3B)

Founded in 2014 by Bradley Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky and based in Chicago, Illinois, Uptake helps industrial companies digitally transform with open, purpose-built software that delivers outcomes that matter, built on a foundation of data science and ML.

Uptake has raised a total of $218 million in funding over four rounds. Its latest funding, a $117-million Series D round led by Baillie Gifford, was raised in November 2017.

That round gave the company a post-money valuation of $2.3 billion.

7. Standard Cognition (Estimated valuation: $1B)

Standard Cognition provides an autonomous checkout tool that can be installed into retailers’ existing stores via its modern AI-powered computer vision platform.

The San Francisco-based startup was founded in 2017 by Brandon Ogle, Daniel Fischetti, David Valdman, John Novak, Jordan Fisher, Michael Suswal, and TJ Lutz.

It has raised a total of $238.5 million in funding over nine rounds. In February of this year, Standard Cognition gained unicorn status with a billion-dollar valuation after a $150-million investment from a Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

8. Scale AI (Estimated valuation: $7.3B)

A women-founded startup in 2016 by Alexandr Wang and Lucy Guo, Scale AI accelerates the development of AI applications by helping ML teams generate high-quality ground truth data. Its advanced LiDAR, image, video, and NLP annotation APIs allow ML teams at companies like OpenAI, Lyft, Pinterest, and Airbnb to focus on building differentiated models vs. labelling data.

The company has managed to raise an impressive $602.6 million in funding over seven rounds. Its latest funding was raised in June 2021 from a Secondary Market round.

After raising $325 million in a Series E round in April of this year, Scale AI has been valued at $7.3 billion, according to Reuters.

9. Evolv Technology (Estimated valuation: ~$1.3B)

Finally, we have Boston-based Evolv Technology, an AI-enabled touchless security screening system startup that uses digital sensors and AI to detect threats, founded in 2013 by Anil Chitkara and Michael Ellenbogen.

The company has raised a total of $398.3 million in funding over seven rounds. Its latest funding, a $300-million Post-IPO Equity round, was raised in July 2021.

On July 19th, 2021, Evolv Technology became publicly listed on the NASDAQ after it completed its business combination with NewHold Investment Corp., a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), giving the combined entity a pro forma enterprise value of approximately $1.3 billion, as per the company’s website.

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