Investing in Starburst

The data infrastructure market has grown massively as data and data systems are contributing directly to business results — not only in Silicon Valley — but also in traditional industry. But we are still in the early innings of data systems — whose rise we cover extensively here — and we believe that this data market has the opportunity to be as large and critical as the overall cloud and SaaS markets in the decades to come.

As the market matures, we see a fundamental shift in how organizations approach data access and analytics. Cloud data storage has made it possible for companies to marry data across transactional systems, applications, logs, and object storage, giving data analysts the ability to analyze previously disparate information for new insights on historical data and more refined predictions.

While companies want the ability to access, analyze, and run queries against all these data sources, many still have data all over the place. Most large, established companies maintain multiple data warehouses and data lakes — some on-prem, some in the cloud; some modern, and some legacy. For these companies, it would be an expensive 5-10 year endeavor to centralize their data in one place, and that assumes they don’t start new projects with different data stores or acquire companies. Unsurprisingly, we are yet to see a large company with a single data warehouse or lake, and instead, companies are looking to query data, wherever it is, without the need for an architectural lift and shift to a single point of storage.

Trino (formerly known as Presto SQL) is an open source, distributed SQL query engine that removes the need to move data in order to analyze it. Data analysts run Trino because it’s the best tool on the market in terms of efficiency and latency. It is used to query data no matter where it lives, most commonly for interactive analytics, using a consistent SQL interface, meaning analysts can access large scale distributed data stores through Trino in the same way they would interact with a centralized data warehouse. It also has the capability to join data from multiple sources for ad-hoc queries. It has a very wide range of connectors that can query data lakes (S3, HDFS, Azure Blob Store), RDBMS (MySQL, SQL Server), and no-SQL databases (MongoDB, Cassandra). 

Simply put, we believe Trino will be one of the most widely used data infrastructure technologies in the market in the coming years. 

Starburst, which provides an enterprise version of Trino, was started by CEO Justin Borgman, who has unique experience shepherding Trino (previously Presto), first getting involved in the community back in 2014 while he was the VP and GM of Hadoop products at Teradata, after the acquisition of his first company, Hadapt. Joining Justin are two co-founders Matt Fuller, and Kamil Bajda-Pawlikowski as well as Martin Traverso, Dain Sundstrom, David Philips, the team that originally created Presto at Facebook in 2012 and have led the community ever since. With its disciplined approach, long-term vision, and workhorse mentality, we believe the team at Starburst is building the technology required to unlock the value of data wherever it lives. 

Starburst’s momentum as a company is staggering in just 26 months of selling in the market. Starburst offers a compelling managed solution for performance, connectivity, security, management, and support. It improves query performance by 10x vs. open source, with enterprise features such as single-sign on (SSO), role-based access control (RBAC), high availability, and 24/7 support.

And from a business standpoint, it’s working! Comcast, Nike, Bank of America, Slack, and VMWare are customers, and Starburst has best-in-class retention, as demonstrated by 99% gross revenue retention. They also have exceptional net dollar retention ~150%+, which indicates that customers buy more as they use Starburst longer. 

We believe the future is bright for Starburst, and that it will become one of the key next generation data architecture companies in the market. We are thrilled to announce our investment in Starburst from the Growth fund and welcome Justin and Starburst to the a16z family. We are excited to work with you in the years to come! 



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