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Snowflake, a Cloud Native Data Warehouse and Our Newest Investment

Today we are announcing our investment in Snowflake. Snowflake is a cloud native data warehouse. Data warehouses have been used for years to store and analyze, not surprisingly, huge amounts of data. Over the past 5-10 years with the explosion of data and the rise of analytics & insights that this data provides, these stores have grown massively and are getting tougher and tougher to scale and manage in a cost-effective way. We are excited to back a company that embraced and leveraged the potential of cloud infrastructure from the start and is rapidly ramping their capabilities to meet the demands of enterprise cloud computing.

This investment is different from Madrona’s core strategy of investing at an early-stage in Pacific NW based companies. The company is later stage and is primarily based in Silicon Valley. But this company fits other Madrona criteria – the huge and growing secular shift to enterprise cloud computing, an A+ team with ties to Seattle and product and customer leadership in the emerging cloud data warehouse market. But even given this, why Snowflake?

Two of the massive computing trends we actively follow for investments are –  the movement of enterprise computing and workloads to the cloud and the development of intelligent applications that make use of data through ML/AI and continuous learning. Both of these require and deal with massive amounts of data. For all the progress that we have made on these trends, we are still in the early phases of this tectonic computing shift – especially for enterprise customers. Many of the previous attempts to make enterprise applications available in the cloud have simply been a reworking of legacy applications, as opposed to cloud native design. We are seeing more technologies that are being designed and built ground-up to be cloud native. That’s exactly what Snowflake did for the world of data warehousing.

Benoit Dageville (co-Founder and CTO) and Thierry Cruanes (co-Founder and architect) came with a rich set of database experiences from Oracle, and they were joined by Bob Muglia as CEO in 2014. Bob is a very accomplished enterprise software and business leader, having spent more than 20 years at Microsoft including running Microsoft’s $16B Server and Tools business. Under Bob’s leadership, Microsoft grew several different multi-billion dollar businesses. Soma has had the opportunity to work for and with Bob over the years at Microsoft and everyone at Madrona sees Bob as a world-class leader. All this experience, expertise and background make Bob the ideal leader for Snowflake. We are really excited about this team and think they are the ones to create a meaningful new business in this industry.

Snowflake is a data warehouse designed and architected for the cloud. It is the first data warehouse built specifically to run in the cloud, and offers a range of performance, concurrency, scale and infrastructure management benefits which legacy, on-premises and cloud data platforms were not designed for. This allows Snowflake to achieve better database performance, respond to higher volumes of concurrent queries without performance degradation, and provide a simpler ongoing SaaS model without infrastructure maintenance – all with an outstanding price/performance characteristic.

Despite only being about 4 years into development, a recent GigaOm analyst report (http://info.snowflake.net/rs/252-RFO-227/images/GigaOm-sector-roadmap-cloud-analytic-databases-2017.pdf) ranked Snowflake as the top cloud analytics database ahead of Google BigQuery, Teradata, Azure Data Warehouse and AWS Redshift. While these other solutions can be a good fit in certain situations, we see Snowflake as a long-term leader in this massive market with its cloud-first technology and cross cloud platform potential.

Source: GigaOm

Snowflake is building a team in Bellevue given the cloud and big data talent that is available in this region. The combination of a world-class proven team, the focus on a cloud-native solution and the potential to be a leader in a massive cloud data warehousing and analytics market are the main reasons we decided to invest and participate in the Snowflake journey. Snowflake is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and there is a good partnership and collaboration between Snowflake and AWS. We look forward to being a valuable resource on that partnership given our long history working with AWS. In addition, we are excited to partner with Bob and team and help them build Snowflake’s presence here in the region and around the world.

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