This man's startup solves such a big problem, everyone he showed it to invested

AtScale Dave MarianiAtScaleAtScale founder, CEO Dave Mariani

Former Yahoo-er and serial startup founder Dave Mariani is back with a new company, AtScale.

AtScale came out of stealth a couple of months ago and today Mariani announced that he’s raised a $US7 million series A round of funding.

That’s not a lot of money by today’s Internet Bubble 2.0 standards, but it’s the people who have backed this company, and the story of how they came to back it, that make AtScale worth being on your radar.

AtScale’s investors include:

Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, who is now a VC who loves to fund startups by former Yahoo-ers.

Amr Awadallah, another former Yahoo-er who is now better known as the co-founder of hot Valley startup Cloudera. Cloudera has raised $US1.2 billion in 8 rounds since it was founded in 2008.

Michael Franklin, a director of UC Berkley’s AmpLab which invented the latest, hottest technology called Spark, which has spun out into fast-rising startup called Databricks. Franklin is both an advisor and investor to AtScale.

Mariani landed these investors by showing him what he was working on. For instance, he had approached Awadallah to ask for technical advice. “We went to get his feedback and Amir was like, ‘Wow, this is different, I like what you guys are doing. Can I invest?'”

Mariani created this tech to solve a problem he had when he worked at Yahoo. Yahoo stores boatloads of data in the tech it created called Hadoop. Hadoop lets companies use low-cost commodity computers and storage to house really huge amounts of data, and it’s become very popular. It’s one of the technologies driving the huge, new ‘big data” trend.

But Hadoop is ridiculously hard to work with. Once you put the data in, it’s hard to turn it into charts, graphs, ask it questions, etc., a process known as business intelligence (BI). And so there’s a whole crop of startups that aim to add BI to Hadoop.

AtScale is one of them. The difference is, Mariani spent years working with Hadoop at Yahoo and at his next job when he was the lead engineer for Klout.

“I did not conceive of this product out of the Stanford business school because I thought [it] would be an interesting thing. We lived the pain,” he told us.

AtScale is an engine that slips almost invisibly into Hadoop with no changes required to Hadoop. Once set up, it lets companies work with the data using their favourite apps including Excel, Tableau Software, Microstrategy, and others.

“We query the data in place. No one is doing that. Enterprises love it. It’s so easy to put it in and their users can keep doing what they are doing, don’t notice a difference, but IT get to move their data from all their old [storage] into Hadoop.”

AtScale also has the pedigree of a founder who’s had multiple hits over decades. He founded MineShare, which sold to Digital Impact for $US34 million in 2000. Digital Impact later sold to Acxiom for $US140 million. And he was CTO of Blue Lithium which sold to Yahoo for $US300 million in October, 2007.

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