Databricks received $140 million in funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz, to further its Spark-based analytics platform PHOTO: Jakub Skafiriak

Databricks, a San Francisco-based business and customer analytics platform, will double its engineering staff, build out its analytics suite using artificial intelligence (AI), focus on specific verticals and expand globally thanks to a $140 million investment.

Databricks CEO and co-founder Ali Ghodsi discussed the 220-employee company's plans in an interview with CMSWire this week. Andreessen Horowitz led the funding round, announced today. New Enterprise Associates and Battery Ventures also participated. 

The new funding brings Databricks’ total capital raised to $247 million. The company raised $60 million earlier this year.

Making AI Accessible to the Masses

Ghodsi said his company sees a "massive gap" between the "1 percent" of companies who are "really successful" with artificial intelligence. He referred to them as the "Microsofts, Googles, Facebooks, Twitters of the world." 

The other 99 percent, he said, are "really struggling" to solve problems with AI.

"We want to invest heavily to bring our solutions to [the 99 percent]," Ghodsi told CMSWire.

Collaboration, Analytics Workflows

Ali Ghodsi headshot
Ali Ghodsi

Databricks produces a Unified Analytics Platform. The focus is on a unified experience across teams (data science works with engineers and lines of business), a unified analytics workflows and a unified infrastructure (serverless cloud infrastructure). 

Ghodsi told CMSWire about 73 percent of the use cases on the Databricks analytics platform focuses on predictive analytics. Which customers will churn? When will a wind turbine need to be serviced? 

"They're all doing business intelligence, but they want to be able to do more predictive analytics," Ghodsi said. 

Collaboration is also a struggle for companies leveraging big data and analytics, he added. He called bringing together all the right people in the organization to leverage analytics a "quagmire." 

Databricks' platform includes a collaboration workspace much like a Google Docs or Slack, only with direct access to analytics. 

"You can chat and interact but also get access to graphs and predictions," Ghodsi said. "There's no one focusing on solving this particular problem."

Databricks Unified Analytics Platform screenshot

Infrastructure Spark

Databricks has Apache Spark big data roots. Patrick Wendell, a co-founder of Databricks and VP of engineering, was a member of the team that developed Spark at the University of California, Berkley.

Researchers donated that work to the Apache Foundation and founded Databricks in 2013.

Company officials said this week Databricks will grow its engineering and customer success teams that deliver Spark expertise and global support for Databricks’ Spark-based cloud platform.

Investors are sparing no expense in AI analytics. Last week, ThoughtSpot, a business intelligence and analytics provider, released an artificial intelligence-backed analytics platform on the heels of a $60 million funding round.