Accel Partners Big Data Fund Invests $4.3 Million In Trifacta

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Today Trifacta, a company building a cross-platform interface for dealing with big data, announced that it received a $4.3 million investment from the Accel Partners Big Data Fund. The company also raised money from X/Seed Capital, Data Collective LLC, Dave Goldberg, Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman.

Trifacta is a team of computer scientists with deep experience in data visualization trying to pull off one of the Holy Grails of data tech: making big data accessible to the non-Ph.D level analyst.

It’s a huge opportunity, if they can get it right. Moore’s Law gives us better and cheaper hardware, and software like Apache Hadoop makes use of it. Humans are now the real bottleneck in technology says Ping Li, who runs the Big Data Fund at Accel.

But unlike other companies trying to make big data simpler to use, such as Datameer Trifacta is focusing on building an interface that can be used on many different platforms, ranging from traditional relational databases to Hadoop clusters. The promise is that Trifacta will generate SQL queries or map reduce code that will run against the actual data storage and processing systems in use.

The company hopes not just to make big data easier for normal business users, but also to make it more efficient for data scientists to process as well. The user will be able to pull a data set, or perhaps just a sample of it, into memory and use Trifacta to explore the through an interface that includes different ways of visualizing the data. The application will suggest different operations you might want to perform and there will previews of what the effects of a particular operation might be. Once you’ve decided on the operations you want to perform, the code or queries are generated.

The founders are CEO Joe Hellerstein, a professor of computer science at University of California Berkley, and “Chief Experience Officer” Jeffrey Heer, a computer science professor at Stanford, and CTO Sean Kandel, who did a dissertation at Stanford on the behavior and productivity of data analysts.

Kandel was one of Heer’s students at Stanford. The two were part of the university’s Human-Computer Interaction Group and the Visualization Group. As part of the Visualization group Kandel worked on Data Wrangler, an acclaimed tool for cleaning up data sets. Heer co-lead the JavaScript data visualization projects Protovis and D3.js.

These guys have some chops, but they’re not going into this alone. They’ve also assembled a team of advisers they call the “Trifaculty” to help them out.

They’re going to need all the help they can get — this is an ambitious project.

Accel started its big data fund last year. It’s a $100 million fund dedicated purely to . So far it’s backed online backup company Code 42, energy management company Vigilent and a stealth startup called RelateIQ.