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StarTree raises $47M for Apache Pinot-based analytics database

The vendor raised new money to continue to grow its database technology as the applications for analytics databases have expanded in recent years with more real-time data needs.

Database vendor StarTree said it raised $47 million in a Series B round of funding to help it grow its commercial services and contributions to the open source community.

The open source Apache Pinot project is at the foundation of StarTree, which provides an online analytical processing database technology with roots at LinkedIn.

StarTree was founded by former LinkedIn engineers in 2019 and launched its commercially supported StarTree Cloud service in March 2022. The service enables users to deploy the real-time analytics database in a virtual private cloud model. The vendor is now previewing a self-service database as a service (DBaaS) approach in which StarTree manages both compute and storage.

StarTree competes against a number of real-time analytics database vendors, notably StarRocks which is currently previewing a DBaaS offering, as well as Rockset and Aerospike.

In this Q&A, Kishore Gopalakrishna, co-founder and CEO of StarTree and one of the former engineers at LinkedIn who helped create Apache Pinot, details the evolution and direction of the real-time analytics database.

The vendor revealed the new funding round on Aug. 29.

Why is StarTree raising money now to advance its efforts with the Apache Pinot real-time analytics database?

Kishore Gopalakrishna, co-founder and CEO, StarTreeKishore Gopalakrishna

Kishore Gopalakrishna: The influx of requirements from customers is just skyrocketing, so we want to accelerate in terms of product development. Part of that is having a self-service model, which we have now launched in preview.

The opportunity is big for us, and we want to capitalize on that. Pretty much all our growth so far has involved customers reaching out to us and now we want to grow that and build out a go-to-market function.

I understand that in terms of the macro conditions there is definitely a slowdown, but I think in the sector that we are in, people really need to build differentiated products and extract more value from the data they've already collected.

In terms of the macro conditions there is definitely a slowdown, but I think in the sector that we are in, people really need to build differentiated products and extract more value from the data they've already collected.
Kishore GopalakrishnaCo-founder and CEO, StarTree

What was the original vision for Apache Pinot and need for a real-time analytics database?

Gopalakrishna: What we really saw at LinkedIn was the value of providing analytics to end users and partners. So, it's not just about looking at analytics as something that you use for your own internal teams to understand how the product is doing.

What we saw is the potential for having analytics as being the product itself. So, at LinkedIn we provided analytics for our members. For example, when a member posts an article you can see analytics around that. Existing analytics databases were not a fit for that use case, as they were often built for internal use cases where a data analyst writes an SQL query and then waits for a response.

Our goal was really to bring the power of analytics to the world because everyone was already collecting the data from different sources, but they were barely scratching the surface in terms of the value that is extracted.

What is the impact of Pinot being an open source project at the Apache Software Foundation?

Gopalakrishna: Apache provides a bit of a brand on top of open source and helps to provide a lot of confidence to users and customers, and it's important that they are picking a technology that has a community around it. That helps a lot in terms of just getting adoption, especially in the beginning of the project.

We also have a lot of code contributors and a major part of Apache are the guidelines in terms of contributions. There are companies including Stripe, Google, LinkedIn and StarTree contributing heavily toward making sure that Pinot works.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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