Why Icon Ventures Invested in Alation

By Michael Mullany

Published on February 20, 2020

This is a guest post by Michael Mullany, general partner, Icon Ventures.

It’s a truism that data is the most important asset in the 21 century economy. But, today too many enterprises exist in a data fog, with poorly contextualized data scattered across millions of tables. Dispelling this data fog is one of the key challenges for the next generation enterprise. And this is why we’re excited to partner with Satyen Sangani, Venky Ganti, Aaron Kalb and the rest of the Alation team as they scale go-to-market for the Alation data catalog.

Today most progressive data-centered businesses have modern data visualization tools and some form of data lake. Enterprises have moved on from basic infrastructure and are trying to solve two hard problems:

  • How do we get business users to use this infrastructure to ask insightful questions?

  • How do we enable analysts and business users to find data they trust to answer those questions?

While most businesses have legacy metadata management tools that have been helpful to IT administrators, these tools were never designed for the new scale of data, the increased democratization of data access and the faster cycle times required for insights.

Why Alation

Alation’s core insight is that a next generation data platform can’t just solve the technical data organization problem – it also needs to provide social and collaborative tools that fit seamlessly into organizations. Just like Splunk democratized log records for a wide audience and made them useful to the business, Alation lets analysts quickly and easily collaborate to share queries and contribute context via a beautifully designed interface, and under the covers machine learning provides important magic that powers a frictionless user experience.

We are excited to invest in Alation because we think it has a unique team addressing these critical needs with a superbly executed product. Alation has some of the best engagement metrics we’ve ever seen outside of consumer web services. In addition, Alation has strong network effects. From talking with Alation customers, it’s clear that as more people inside companies get the Alation habit, the product grows more valuable, attracting more users in a virtuous cycle.

Equally important, Alation understands the enterprise. It understands that multiple parties have to collaborate to make a catalog platform work: governance, stewardship, IT and analytics teams. And it’s designed to make it completely frictionless to do so. Alation also has some of the best enterprise and partner traction that we’ve seen from any company at its stage.

Finally, Satyen Sangani, the Alation CEO, is simply world class. Icon has been investing in database and data management companies for the last 15 years and he has assembled one of the strongest early teams we’ve seen.

I’m thrilled that Icon Ventures has led the Series B funding in Alation and I’m excited to join the board. Satyen, Venky and Aaron are special entrepreneurs and I am honored to now be part of the company’s journey. If you’re a company struggling with data fog, then you need Alation. It’s that simple.

Bio: Michael Mullany

  • Why Alation
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