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March is turning out to be a pretty big month for Hadoop, the open source big data technology. Today Hortonworks, the Hadoop company spun out of Yahoo, announced that it has raised $100 million in a funding round led by the investment firms BlackRock and Passport Capital.
The deal is intended to set the stage for a HortonWorks IPO either in the second half of 2014 or in early 2015, CEO Rob Bearden told Re/code. “We are very focused on moving toward an IPO aggressively.”
It’s the second nine-figure funding deal for a Hadoop company in as many weeks. Last week, the space’s oldest company, Cloudera, announced a $160 million institutional round led by T. Rowe Price and with the participation of Google Ventures and Michael Dell’s MSD Capital. Also last week, Platfora, a company that helps Hadoop users make better use of their data, raised $38 million in a series C led by Tenaya Capital.
Bearden said the round could have been larger — substantially so — than $100 million. “But quite honestly we don’t need it, and we’ve run the company with a lot of financial discipline,” he said.
Hadoop itself is an open-source project overseen by the nonprofit Apache Foundation, and originally sprang out of Yahoo. (Hadoop’s logo is a yellow cartoon elephant, hence the picture above.) The core team that created it went on to start Hortonworks, a company that aims to build a commercial business by supporting companies deploying Hadoop.
For the last several years, Hadoop has been in an experimental phase. As companies have struggled to get their heads around “big data” — the notion that useful business insights can come from a thorough analysis of data gathered in the course of daily operations — they have increasingly turned to Hadoop technologies to simplify the process.
But after a few years of experimentation, there’s a sense around Hadoop that there’s something to be gained from using it. A recent IDC survey of 202 large companies that had been experimenting with Hadoop found that nearly a third of them had moved it to production environments, and roughly another third planned to do so within a year or less.
As Benchmark Capital’s Peter Fenton, who led that firm’s first investment in Hortonworks, explained in an interview with Re/code last month, it’s still in the early phases. The case studies of companies who are using Hadoop to gain a competitive advantage as yet still number in the hundreds. The pace of investments appears to be an indicator that investors sense a turning point.