This week Opera Solutions, a provider of "big data" analytics tools, announced that the company has taken in an $84 million investment to expand its rapidly growing business. The investment round, the company's first, was led by Silver Lake Sumeru, with participation from Accel-KKR, Invus Financial Advisors, JGE Capital Management, and Tola Capital.
Founded in 2004, Opera has grown from 10 people to more than 600 staffers globally with development locations in New York, Shanghai, and New Delhi. The staff includes 180 scientists working to solve data-oriented challenges.
I spoke with CEO and founder Arnab Gupta today about the financing, which the firm says is the largest ever for a private company in that space. According to Gupta, the company had been reinvesting profits for the last few years and decided it was time to raise its game in terms of marketing and sales, which is why it set out to raise money.
Gupta said the company had been growing primarily through customer referrals and tight connections into vertical markets like financial services. Much of the word-of-mouth growth was due to the fact that the chief information officers and business leaders of large organizations are all dealing with a similar issue of data growth.
Translating the information in vast amounts of data into actionable decision points is becoming increasingly difficult, which is why we've seen so much interest in open-source projects such as Hadoop, a data processing engine, and big data in general, which has changed the way that companies process and understand information.
As I wrote in July 2010, big data is more of an approach than it is a specific set of technologies. Monolithic legacy technologies are being replaced with distributed computational resources (often compute clouds) and relational databases can be replaced, or perhaps offset with NoSQL data stores that allow for extremely high volumes of transactions without requiring SQL-specific programmatic methods.
But according to Gupta, the real value is being able to interpret the data and convert it into some kind of result. His company is focused on extracting a signal from the data, which is increasingly difficult as the volume and variability continues to grow.
One interesting note is that Opera Solutions is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, which proves that large enterprises are open to processing their data outside of their firewall. And it means that Opera Solutions can quickly update algorithms and the analytics themselves based on what they learn from the data.
There is no shortage of use cases for "turning big data into small data" though Opera has focused primarily on financial services and health care to date--both vertical markets that have found traditional methods of insight and decision making aren't as efficient as they could and should be.
The company says it's already doing $100 million in revenue a year despite not being very well-known. It would seem that the revenue number is going to grow and we'll start to hear a lot more about Opera Solutions in the future.