Smaller Startups With New Ideas Take On Big Data

By Marisa Kendall
The Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Looking at data via graph databases, which map information using an intricate web of connections between data points lets users spot relationships that otherwise might be missed. Experts say it is helping revolutionize the field of data as the world is flooded with more information than ever before.

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Delivering an eBay order in under 30 minutes, mining 11 million financial documents for evidence of illegal activity, helping humans reach Mars more quickly, three seemingly unrelated feats made possible using a new data analysis tool that is sweeping Silicon Valley.

Forget spreadsheets. It’s all about graph databases, which map information using an intricate web of connections between data points.

Looking at data that way, an idea popularized by industry leaders like Facebook and Google, lets users spot relationships that otherwise might be missed. Experts say it is helping revolutionize the field of data as the world is flooded with more information than ever before.

“Data does feel like the new oil. It’s kind of the commodity that makes everything go,” said Zavain Dar, a principal at Menlo Park-based venture capital firm Lux Capital. “And it’s really on the enterprise now to have as fine-tuned of an engine as possible.”

Collecting the data is no longer the hard part, it’s sucked up when you search and post online, and gathered by everything from autonomous cars, to satellites, to smartphones, and funneled to companies or government organizations. Tech companies’ challenge now is figuring out how best to analyze that data.

Silicon Valley startups are attacking that problem, a trend that experts say could ultimately be problematic for incumbents of the big-data industry, such as Palantir, which risk losing some of their market share to the newcomers.

Neo Technology, a startup named after the main character in The Matrix movie trilogy, is one of the early pioneers of graph database technology. Previously, that type of data analysis was reserved for companies with big wallets and deep talent pools, like Facebook and Google. Neo Founder and CEO Emil Eifrem says his team offers its own version of that “little piece of Silicon Valley magic” to the masses.

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