Hortonworks Acquires Onyara, Early Startup With Roots In NSA

Hortonworks, the big data company built on Hadoop, bought early-stage startup Onyara today. The company, which launched at the end of last year, has its roots in the NSA — yes that NSA.

The Onyara engineers worked at the NSA for 8 years helping to develop a technology that would later be known as Apache NiFi. The NSA released the technology to the open source community last year as part of the The NSA Technology Transfer Program.

Onyara launched at the end of last year with an undisclosed amount of seed funding

The technology gives Hortonworks a light-weight agent that creates a secure connection and provides two-way communication between say a sensor and the database, Shaun Connolly, vice president of corporate strategy at Hortonworks told TechCrunch.

As a technology that was tested and used across the intelligence community, it’s fast, reliable and secure, he explained. What’s more, it can operate in resource-constrained environments like a sensor or light-weight computer like a Rasberry Pi. This is quite the opposite of Hadoop, which is resource intensive.

The Onyara technology is particularly important to Internet of Things applications and should work well as a real-time data gathering tool that compliments Hortonwork’s Hadoop-based historical analysis capabilities, he said.

Data diagram showing how new NiFi technology from Onyara will work with Hortonworks Hadoop platform and data flowing in from Internet of Things.

As part of the deal, Onyara’s 10 employees will become part of Hortonworks, but the company is planning on hiring additional engineers for the team and treating it as a new division, Connolly said.

In a blog post, the Onyara team expressed excitement about the deal and the new opportunities it should provide them. “As part of Hortonworks, we look forward to developing new products and services based on Apache NiFi that collect, conduct, and curate any data from anything, anywhere,” the founders wrote in a blog post.

This is actually the third company Hortonworks has purchased, and Connelly said the fact it’s an Apache open source company fits well with Hortonworks, which is based on Apache Hadoop. In fact, the company launched when Yahoo! released Hadoop to the Apache community in 2011.

Financial Outlook

Hortonworks went public last December, and is trading up from its IPO price of $16 by around one third. However, while investors have cheered its rapid revenue growth, the company’s losses have expanded, hampering margin improvement at the Hadoop shop.

In its most recent quarter, Hortonworks reported 154 percent revenue growth, or an increase of $18.6 million in top line for the financial period. Hortonwork’s net losses, using standard accounting techniques, grew by $15.3 million in the same quarter. That means that the company has been losing more money in total than it brings in revenue.

Hortonworks raised $100 million in its IPO, and has since seen its total cash and equivalents position ease. However, with its strong share price, the company could lean more heavily on the value of its equity when making purchases like today’s, than the size of its checking account.

The company did not disclose the purchase price, but Onyara becomes part of Hortonworks effective immediately.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the technology and the team around the technology. This [acquisition] checks both boxes,” he said.