Israeli startup Firebolt has been taking on Google’s BigQuery, Snowflake and others with a cloud data warehouse solution that it claims can run analytics on large data sets cheaper and faster than its competitors. Now, it is announcing a big round of funding to fuel its big data growth: Firebolt has raised $100 million in a Series C round on a $1.4 billion valuation. It plans to use the money to continue investing in its technology stack, to step up with more business development and to hire more talent for its team, to meet what it believes are changing tides in the world of data warehousing.
Firebolt’s customers — which include big tech companies, business intelligence firms and any customer-facing business that needs to parse a lot of information to in turn serve information to users in real time and run back-end data applications — typically use multiple vendors when it comes to how they handle their data. “Now, they are looking for new solutions to drive new use cases,” said Eldad Farkash, Firebolt’s CEO. Snowflake and other incumbents figure significantly, but Firebolt has been entering the picture when those new use cases, and new cracks, come up.
“We rarely see people not liking Snowflake. In a room, they will never say we want to replace it. It’s unique and shows how much it means to them. But everything is changing, and their challenges are growing, and they can’t just keep one thing standing. They need options.”
Alkeon Capital is leading the round, with new backers Sozo Ventures and Glynn Capital, and previous backers Zeev Ventures, Angular Ventures, Dawn Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, K5 Global and TLV Partners also participating.
Firebolt — founded in 2019 by Farkash, COO Saar Bitner and Ariel Yaroshevich, alums from business intelligence company Sisense — does not disclose how many customers it has today, nor who they are, but there are other signs of how it has been growing its business. Notably, it only emerged from stealth mode 13 months ago, and this is its third round of funding in that time, having previously announced $37 million when it came out of stealth, and then $127 million last June. (It’s raised nearly $270 million to date.)
Another sign of its growth is a big hire that the company is making. Mosha Pasumansky — a groundbreaking figure in the world of big data analytics — has been poached from Google, where he had been the principal engineer at BigQuery. He is now Firebolt’s CTO (a role previously held by Yaroshevich), and he will be leading a new Seattle office for the startup. While a portion of the funding will be going into business development and R&D, some of it will also be used to bulk up Firebolt’s team, which currently numbers 200 employees across 25 countries.
The opportunity that Firebolt is targeting is a ripe one in the world of enterprise.
Big data is at the heart of how a lot of applications, and a lot of businesses overall, work these days. And when it comes to big data troves, the priority for organizations is to have tools to manage them efficiently, and parse and analyse them effectively.
However, over time, as the data produced in organizations continues to expand and grow ever more complex, it has put a huge strain on organizations, both in terms of the costs of managing that data, and the investment needed to parse it in useful ways.
Firebolt’s pitch is that it has built a SQL-based architecture that handles this challenge better than anything that has come before it, using new techniques in compression that can connect data lakes and result in smaller cloud capacity requirements, resulting in lower costs and better performance, up to 182 times faster than that of other data warehouses.
“Data warehouses are solving yesterday’s problem, which was, ‘How do I migrate to the cloud and deal with scale?’” CEO Eldad Farkash once told me. Yes, Google’s BigQuery, Amazon’s RedShift and Snowflake are suitable enough answers, he believes, but “we see Firebolt as the new entrant in that space, with a new take on design on technology. We change the discussion from one of scale to one of speed and efficiency.”
Firebolt cites analysts that estimate the global cloud analytics market will be worth some $65 billion by 2025.
Investors are betting big at the moment on companies that are building platforms to meet not just the enterprise data challenges of today, but the growing challenges as they believe they will exist tomorrow. That’s having a very direct effect on companies like Firebolt that play very much into that area: Farkash said that this round was unsolicited and oversubscribed.
“We are extremely excited to partner with the world class team at Firebolt to further support their incredible growth,” said Abhi Arun, managing partner at Alkeon Capital, in a statement. “We’re seeing a shift in the market where every modern app today requires a performant and scalable data infrastructure and we believe that Firebolt is perfectly positioned to lead this segment of the market and become the cloud data warehouse of choice for modern data engineering and dev teams building interactive analytics experiences at scale.”