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Think Big. Move Fast.

Our freshly minted investment in Comprehend (www.comprehend.com) was announced today. We are thrilled to back co-founders Rick Morrison and Jud Gardner and their team as they continue their mission to use next generation data analytics to help life science companies transform the way they bring products to market.

Like many of our most successful companies, what Comprehend does is simple yet powerful and has a profound impact on their customers. Basically all the life science companies out there have a really difficult time seeing and analyzing the data they need to navigate the clinical trial process. This is the lifeblood of their business — getting products to market — yet they are flying blind! There are so many data sources and the data changes so rapidly, and traditional data warehousing and integration technologies simply cannot adapt to that change. Comprehend has developed a next generation data analytics platform that readily adapts to all this change. Their customers such as Boston Scientific have implemented Comprehend’s SaaS service in less than a month and thereafter the system keeps up as the data and needs for analysis change. Comprehend allows life science companies to successfully get new products out faster with less risk.

Comprehend hits on one of the major themes that Lightspeed has been seeking out investments in. We first invested in Big Data infrastructure companies such as Hadoop (MapR) and Cassandra (DataStax). This infrastructure, together with other advances in processor power, in-memory data storage (Fusion-io, Nutanix, Nimble), and software delivery in turn enable a next generation set of Big Data and data analytics application companies. We have been actively making investments in this overall area in companies such as Numerify (cloud-based analytical apps for IT operations), BloomReach (Big Data marketing applications), EverString (Big Data-driven B2B demand generation) and ThoughtSpot (data search).

When Rick and his team shared their story with us, we knew instantly that we wanted to work with them. We were delighted to be chosen by Comprehend to be their partners, and look forward to helping them on their journey to transform the way life companies bring much needed next generation treatments and devices to patients around the world.

 

 

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We are excited to announce our new Series A investment in EverString (www.everstring.com)!  CEO and co-founder Vincent Yang, a mathematician by training, had built a system while he was at Summit Partners, a private equity firm, to comb the Web looking for investment opportunities.  At EverString, he took his thinking to an entirely new level.  He has assembled a crack team of experts in natural language processing, text mining, machine learning, computational optimization, and unstructured data analytics to do something essential for any B2B enterprise:  generate demand.

EverString does this by first building a proprietary database that continuously crawls to collect and analyze over 10,000 variables on millions of individual businesses from company websites, announcements, industry data, and other public and proprietary data sources.  This is BIG DATA!  The team developed unique natural language processing and text mining capabilities which are keys to building this database.  The system then ingests historical sales lead and conversion data and other data resident in a customer’s CRM system; analyzes this data against the proprietary database using machine learning capabilities; and generates a predictive model.  This model then is used to:

  • Maximize the value of leads by micro-segmenting them and identifying the most likely to convert. Typical conversion rate boost > 50%.
  • Generate new leads with a high probability of conversion.
  • Identify the best upsell/cross sell prospects.
  • Provide analytic insights on what characteristics represent the best customer prospects, enabling the fine tuning of marketing activities.

We love businesses like EverString that take complex technologies that are out of reach for most companies and create incredibly impactful, easy to consume products and services.  Enterprises that use EverString gain a fundamental edge over their competition in building revenue and market share.

EverString hits on one of the major themes that Lightspeed has been seeking out investments in.  We first invested in Big Data infrastructure companies such as Hadoop (MapR) and Cassandra (DataStax).  This infrastructure, together with other advances in processor power, in-memory data storage (Fusion-io, Nutanix, Nimble), and data analytics methodologies in turn enable a next generation set of Big Data application companies.  We have been actively making investments in this overall theme in companies such as Numerify (cloud-based analytical apps for IT operations), BloomReach (Big Data marketing applications), and ThoughtSpot (data search).

We are looking forward to helping EverString in their quest to disrupt the world of B2B demand generation.

 

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Business Intelligence (BI) is the gift that keeps on giving. For years, startups have popped up, promising better insights and faster decision making capabilities, consistently resulting in new waves of highly valued companies. Take a look at the past decade, which has seen massive consolidation as well as a hot new set of public companies. For example, SAP snapped up Business Objects for $6.8B in 2009, IBM acquired Cognos for $5B in 2008, and Oracle acquired Hyperion for $3.3B in 2007. The most recent set of public BI companies include upstarts such as Tableau, Qlikview, and Splunk which each captured the markets’ imagination with promises of Big Data and Analytics.

Increasingly, BI has been recognized as a strategic tool by the world’s most successful and nimble enterprises which run their businesses on metrics and use BI tools to rapidly make data-driven decisions.

However, despite the steady progress in technology, there is still a problem with BI. The status quo remains a complicated mess of reports and dashboards coupled with a very IT-centric approach to serving, accessing, and exploring data. Despite the incumbent vendors’ promises of “speed of thought decision-making” and “democratization of data,” a user’s ability to ask questions of her data is still impacted by IT’s ability to manipulate the data tools. Put simply, no one has solved the problem of letting a business user directly search and ask questions of her data. And as a business analyst will quickly tell you, the more questions you can ask, the better insights you get!

Take a second to think about your life on the web. When we have a question to ask of the internet’s wisdom, we turn to Google and have millions of answers in less than half a second. However, when we have an answer to ask of our corporate data that falls outside the existing data schema, we turn to IT. And then we wait. And wait. And days or weeks later, we may have an answer.

It is this massive gap between the power of web search and the inflexibility of corporate BI that led Ajeet Singh and Amit Prakash, the founders of ThoughtSpot, to sense an opportunity. They asked themselves the audacious question: why not bring the elegance and speed of the Google search experience to the enterprise? Specifically, why not build a simple, clean interface that users can easily understand, paired with the performance and flexibility of an in-memory, scale-out database appliance?

This is a big idea and a huge technical challenge. But, Ajeet and Amit are no strangers to big ideas. Ajeet was a co-founder at Nutanix, one of the fastest growing enterprise infrastructure companies of the past decade, and Amit was a founding engineer of Microsoft Bing’s Search team and then spent many years at Google, leading technical teams in the AdSense Analytics group.

To tackle this huge challenge would require bringing together a cross-functional team of world class engineers, designers, and architects to take on a problem that no startup had yet attempted. Ajeet and Amit set out to build one of the valley’s best engineering teams. They recruited as jr co-founders Shashank Gupta, Vijay Ganesan, Sanjay Agrawal, Priyendra Deshwal and Abhishek Rai – technical stars from Microsoft, Oracle, Google, who have made significant contributions to technology such as Google’s Search Index, Google’s Project Borg, Google’s Ads Database, Microsoft’s SQL Server, and Oracle’s BI-in-the-cloud. And they raised $10.7M from Lightspeed and a number of strategic angels to finance building the product.

Fast forward 18 months and, today, ThoughtSpot unveiled their Data Search Appliance, a revolutionary way for business users to search, analyze, and explore their data. Designed for enterprises, the appliance is scalable, secure, and elastic, with the performance and intuitive experience you’d expect when asking questions of Google.

At Lightspeed, we’re extremely excited about our partnership with the ThoughtSpot team as they rethink business intelligence for the enterprise and bring the power of search to business data. For more information about ThoughtSpot’ launch, visit www.thoughtspot.com.

 

Follow me on Twitter at @arifj

 

 

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Congratulations to Tony Fadell, Matt Rogers and the world class team at Nest!  Today Nest announced that it has agreed to be acquired by Google.   As investors in the company since the early days, we here at Lightspeed have been …

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Today is an exciting day for Nimble Storage. We are fortunate to be early investors and partners to the company, having made our initial investment during the depths of the global financial collapse in late 2008. Nimble successfully completed its …

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New content sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy, ViralNova and PolicyMic*are growing fast through social sharing. Yesterday Facebook made some changes to their newsfeed algorithm that will deprecate low quality memes and highlight high quality stories that get clicked and read a …

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Bitcoin has been on a nice run over the last few months, currently trading above $500 USD/BTC.

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A large driver of the run up has been growing demand for Bitcoin in China. BTC China has always been …

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In yesterday’s Facebook earnings call, a lot of concern has been raised about how teen usage on Facebook has dropped slightly. Said Facebook’s CFO:

“Our best analysis of youth engagement in the U.S. reveals that usage of Facebook among

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Social media sites by definition involve user generated content. In some cases, like Youtube comments or Chatroulette, that makes for some unpleasant behavior. In other cases, like Pinterest and Quora, the better angels of our nature win out. The difference …

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We all know that internet usage is steadily shifting over to mobile. We also know that mobile phones are not just mini laptops. User behavior changes on mobile phones. I have a guest column in Pando Daily today that talks …

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