Israeli-based cloud data warehouse startup Firebolt is announcing today that it has raised a $100 million Series C funding round, bringing its total valuation to $1.4 billion. The C round follows a $127M Series B round just six months ago. The company has also appointed an analytics industry veteran as its new chief technology officer.
A growing team, a tech-first approach
The new funding round is led by Alkeon Capital, with participation from new investors Sozo Ventures and Glynn Capital. Existing investors Zeev Ventures, Angular Ventures, Dawn Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and K5 Global also participated. The young company's headcount is currently at 180 and, in a briefing with ZDNet, Firebolt's leadership explained they'll be up to 200 very soon. The company also told ZDNet it expects to hire an additional 100 to 150 people this year, fueled by this funding round.
Firebolt prides itself on superior performance derived from storing data in its own FFF file format. FFF optimizes itself for different storage media, including Amazon S3, solid state disk (SSD) or CPU cache. Using a combination of compression, encoding options, memory-based sparse indexing and GPU acceleration, the platform is designed for lightning (or, er, firebolt)-fast query performance, with application-embedded use cases being a sweet spot.
The engineering bent of the company comes as no surprise, given its CEO and co-founder is Eldad Farkash, who was the founding CTO at Sisense. Today, though, Firebolt is announcing it has a proper CTO of its own: Mosha Pasumansky, previously a principal engineer on Google's BigQuery team, and involved in the opening of Google's Seattle office, according to Firebolt. Fittingly, Pasumansky will lead a Firebolt team in Seattle, which will join existing teams in Tel Aviv and Munich.
Pasumansky has been a significant player in multiple eras of analytics: in addition to his role on the BigQuery Team, he also served as a software engineer on the SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) team at Microsoft from 2005 to 2011. SSAS was a business intelligence industry pioneer and standard, and to this day remains as the engine behind Microsoft's hugely successful Power BI.
Pasumansky's blog was a practitioner's must-read back in the mid-2000's, when I helped lead a boutique consulting firm focused on SSAS and the rest of Microsoft's BI stack at the time. Pasumansky joining Firebolt is consistent with the company's engineering focus and its orientation as an analytics platform for application developers, which was SSAS' credo.
Firebolt is in a very crowded and competitive space, with its work cut out for it. Pasumansky should be a boon to the effort as should the Series C round, even if it's a bit smaller than the Series B. The question is whether Firebolt's passion for maximum performance is what the industry wants, and what will succeed in the market.
Snowflake is focused on friction-free implementation and reduced time-to-value. Databricks provides an end-to-end platform for analytics, data engineering and machine learning. Starburst, Ahana and others want to give you one analytics engine that can talk to all your data in its native format, at its point of origin. The cloud providers want to give you data warehouse and data lake functionality that integrates with their full complement of other data services.
Firebolt, meanwhile, is going back to a timeless developer priority: maximum speed. As intuitively valuable as that is, it's also contrarian in today's analytics market. Ultimately, customers (and their developers) will decide if this back-to-fundamentals approach should be rewarded.