Big 50 Blast from the Past: Hortonworks

Hot Big Data Startup Goes from Big 50 to IPO

The Big 50-2016 Startup Report is coming in July. Later this week, we’ll begin featuring a few of the startups that have earned their way into this year’s Big 50, giving you periodic glimpses behind the scenes as we wrap up our research.

Startups in this year’s report will include Webscale, CloudVelox, Viptela, BigPanda, Deep Instinct, Xplenty, and 44 others!

In the meantime, let’s take a look back at a top startup from a previous Big 50, one that went public shortly after that Big 50 was published:


What they’ve accomplished since the last Big 50: Hortonworks went public on December 11, 2014 (NASDAQ:HDP), raising $100 million in its IPO. As of June 11, 2016, the company has a market cap of $580.99M.

Since its IPO, Hortonworks has acquired two Big Data startups to bolster its portfolio. SequenceIQ was acquired to provide deployment automation for Enterprise Hadoop across public and private clouds. Onyara, the creator of Apache NiFi (a top-level open source project) was acquired to “make it easy for customers to automate and secure data flows and to collect, conduct and curate real-time business insights and actions derived from data in motion.” Both acquisitions closed in 2015.

New customers include AGL, Arizona State University, Beabloo, Billy Mobile, Centrica, LHP Telematics, and Yahoo! JAPAN.

Since its IPO, Hortonworks has opened an international headquarters in London and has expanded into Ireland, as well. It currently has offices in 16 countries.

The original profile from the Big Data 50-2014:

What they do: Provide an open-source Apache Hadoop-based Big Data solution.

Headquarters: Santa Clara, CA

CEO: Rob Bearden. He previously served as COO of both SpringSource and JBoss, and also served in senior roles at Oracle, where he directed a $1 billion sales organization, I2 and Manhattan Associates.


Founded: 2011

Funding: In March 2014, Hortonworks nailed down a massive $100 million round of funding. The oversubscribed funding round was led by funds managed by BlackRock and Passport Capital and joined by all existing investors, which include Tenaya Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, Benchmark Capital, Index Ventures, and Yahoo! This brings total funding to date to more than $225 million.

Why they’re one of the 50: Hortonworks argues that “there is no one-size-fits-all solution for Big Data. Every company has its own unique needs to be met. Hadoop is the only Big Data platform that is capable of adapting to each company’s needs, but it does not – and cannot – do so in a vacuum. Hadoop works best in partnership with other big data applications, tools, frameworks and platforms so as to offer the most flexible solution for each user. And as other big data technologies mature and companies’ needs grows, Hadoop must adapt to address those needs.”

Hortonworks believes that community-driven open source is the fastest path to innovation and adoption of Hadoop. Through its work with the Apache Software Foundation and its Hadoop partnership ecosystem, Hortonworks has been able to launch enterprise features and projects into the public domain in partnership – not competition – with other players in the Big Data market.

As a Hortonworks spokesperson wrote to me, “It’s not about getting the biggest slice of the pie – it’s about making the pie itself as big as possible.” Hmm, that’s a lesson U.S. economic policy makers would be wise to learn (but I’m not holding my breath). Investors are buying into this message, however, as evidenced by Hortonworks recent $100 million funding round.

Hortonworks also has, perhaps, the most impressive pedigree of any startup in the Big Data 50. Founded by 24 engineers from the original Yahoo! Hadoop development and operations team, Hortonworks argues (convincingly) that it has amassed more Hadoop experience under one roof than any other organization. Its team members are active participants and leaders in Hadoop development; designing, building, and testing the core of the Hadoop platform.

The Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) deeply integrates with an organization’s existing IT investments to create a modern data architecture. This gives enterprises the foundation for a data lake, which combines data from multiple silos. Organizations can access a unified pool of data from traditional data sources (RDBMS, OLTP, OLAP), data systems (EDW, MPP, RDBMS), and business applications (analytics/BI, customer applications, enterprise applications).

Hortonworks has strategic partnerships in place with Microsoft, Rackspace, Red Hat, SAP, Teradata, and dozens of other companies.

Customers include: Spotify, Western Digital, eBay, Bloomberg, Kohl’s, AT&T, TrueCar, Cardinal Health and UC Irvine.

Competitive Landscape: Competitors include roll-your-own Hadoop projects and other Hadoop startups, such as Cloudera, and MapR.