Announcing the Ahana $20M Series A – Furthering our Vision of Open Data Lake Analytics with Presto

I’m very excited to announce that Ahana, the Presto company, has raised a jumbo $20M Series A round from lead investor Third Point Ventures. Our SaaS managed service for open source Presto enables data platform teams to easily and cost effectively deliver powerful SQL processing on all their data. This is our vision of Open Data Lake Analytics and it’s what Facebook, Uber, Twitter, and others in the Presto Foundation have been running at scale.

It’s been only 15 months since the founding of Ahana and I’m extremely proud of what the team has achieved to date. We came out of stealth last year with seed investments totalling $4.8M from GV (Google Ventures), Lux Capital, and Leslie Ventures, who all also participated in this oversubscribed A round. Initially we focused on the Presto community, providing support, open source contributions, and tutorials to help people get started easily with Presto. Subsequently, we announced the first managed service for Presto at PrestoCon in September and GA’d two months later at AWS Re:Invent in December with early customer acclaim. 

I am also excited to have Rob Schwartz, Managing Partner of Third Point Ventures join our board and to partner with Third Point that has tremendous public market investing expertise, relationships, and research capabilities. Third Point has over $25B under management and Rob drives their early stage, growth, and cross-over investments in their emerging technology arm, Third Point Ventures. I value his hands-on experience with young companies, helping them deliver on their vision. For example, he is an active investor in Yellowbrick in the data space. Rob and Third Point had four key reasons to invest in Ahana…the team, the project, the market, and the product-market fit as evidenced by customer traction. Let me touch on these four areas:

  1. THE TEAM: This is my 6th startup tour of duty and I’ll be the first to attest that startups require an incredible amount of energy. That energy comes from the synchronized rowing of the oars to propel the ship, no matter the size (or startup stage of company growth). I’m most proud of our extraordinary team; all their hands on deck that have pulled together so far. The Ahana team includes experts in a range of industry-leading databases: Teradata, IBM DB2, Vertica, Aster Data, and the recently IPO’d Couchbase. In addition to experts in open source & Presto hailing from Facebook, Uber, Walmart and Alibaba. 
  2. THE OPEN SOURCE PRESTO PROJECT: Since we started Ahana last year, the momentum we’ve seen in the Presto community has been phenomenal. We helped the Presto Foundation lead two massively successful PrestoCon’s and numerous meetups across the world, whose membership have crossed over 1000 members. The Docker Sandbox Container for Presto hosted by Ahana has had over 250K pulls just in the last 6 months, and 10 companies are now part of the growing Presto Foundation consortium. We’re both thankful to all those in the community who have helped make Presto what it is and humbled to be a part of its success. We pledge to continue open source code contributions for the benefit of the Presto community for many years to come.
  1. THE MARKET: This $20MM series A raise enables us to further our vision of providing the most flexible and performant Open Data Lake Analytics with Presto. Open Data Lake Analytics is quickly becoming the next big emerging stack, led by hyperscaler bellwether companies like Facebook and Uber. While the data warehouse has been the workhorse of analytics,  it’s also very expensive. To address that, more data is moving into cloud data lakes like AWS S3 because they are so inexpensive and ubiquitous. So we’re seeing the data warehouse getting deconstructed in the cloud with the commodified data lake coupled with open source Presto. This stack enables SQL analytics directly on the data lake, making it the most cost effective, open, and flexible solution.  
  2. PRODUCT-MARKET FIT: Ahana is at the intersection of some rapidly growing trends right now – Open Source, Cloud Analytics, and the Data Lake. And our customer base is proof of that. Having only GA’d this past December, the adoption we’ve seen has been incredible. Companies like Cartona, an eCommerce company out of Egypt, and Carbon, a fast growing ad tech company, are using Ahana and telling the world about their use cases. Securonix, the Gartner magic quadrant leader in the security SIEM space, is a huge proponent of Presto and Ahana and recently joined us at the AWS Startup Showcase. Our customers are building out reporting and dashboarding, customer-facing analytics, data transformation use cases, and much more with Ahana Cloud for Presto. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

Lastly, I’ll mention that this raise enables us to accelerate growth in three main areas: 

  1. Technical innovation of the Presto project, by scaling our product and engineering teams. Btw, we’re an all remote company. 
  2. Adoption via more evangelism for the Presto open source project. We will continue working closely with the community and other Presto Foundation members like Facebook, Uber, and Intel.
  3.  Growing our Marketing and Sales organizations, continuing our focus on customer adoption.

To sum it up, I’d like to share what Rob Schwartz, Managing Partner of Third Point Ventures says about us:

“We’re excited to join the exceptional team at Ahana and assist them in their evolution from rapid, early adoption to substantial market prominence. As we witness the evolution of modern analytics, we’re seeing a new stack emerge adjacent to the data warehouse. Companies need an open, flexible approach to access their data, and the data lake with Presto on top provides that. Ahana Cloud provides the foundation for this new stack, giving all platform teams the ability to easily use Presto on their data lake. With Ahana, any company can leverage the open data lake for their analytics. This is extremely powerful.”

Cheers to our next phase of growth, and did I mention we’re hiring? 😉 

We are just getting started. Join us on this incredible journey at the intersection of cloud, data, and open source…what many unicorns are made of.

Presto Foundation compared to Single Vendor-Driven Open Source Projects

Why Project Neutrality Matters

Steven Mih, Cofounder and CEO, Ahana

PrestoCon Day was last week on March 24, and it was an incredible event with lots of great speakers, great attendance, and positivity around the Presto community. I gave a lightning talk called the “Top Ten Reasons to Use and Contribute to Presto.”

In Letterman style, it’s a read out of each reason, starting from 10 and counting down to 1. Number 9 was:

Presto is neutrally governed with the stated principle that no one individual or company can control the project.

At this point in my presentation, some attendees spammed the chat thread with links claiming that Trino has neutrality, implying that Presto does not. (Here’s a snippet of that song if you’re interested:)

This blog will share data points on why this claim on neutrality is false.

First off, what is Neutrality?

Some say the word “neutrality” with a tone of righteousness, implying freedom or independence of some sort. But that isn’t what the word means. As a noun, “neutrality” simply means impartiality. That when there is a decision to be made there isn’t support for one side vs. another.

Presto Foundation is neutrally-governed

Here’s two data points that show Presto is neutrally-governed: 

#1: Linux Foundation’s Presto Foundation has adopted these principles since Dec 2019: 

Slide from PrestoCon Day Opening Presentation

#2: The Presto Foundation Governing Board operates with these principles, with oversight from Linux Foundation. They have grown and diversified Presto Foundation membership from 4 member companies to 10 member companies today. They have worked with the project’s Technical Steering Committee to grow representation from 2 companies and to 5 companies today. 

Presto is controlled by multiple end-user companies and vendor companies with a common set of principles and Linux Foundation oversight. 

So Presto is a neutrally-governed OSS project.

Single vendor-driven OSS projects don’t have neutrality

Single vendor OSS projects are ones where the majority of committers work for one vendor company – see companies like MongoDB, Elastic, and Starburst. In this case, OSS projects are tied to vendors and their commercial agendas – they are not impartial, so they are not neutral.

With that in mind, here are two data points that show Trino is a single vendor-driven project:

#1) The Trino Software Foundation owners are Martin Traverso, Dain Sundstrom and David Phillips:

“The foundation will be led by the three original creators of Presto: Martin Traverso, Dain Sundstrom and David Phillips.” (source: press release)

#2) The Starburst cofounders and CTO’s are Martin Traverso, Dain Sundstrom and David Phillips.

Trino is in a foundation that is controlled by cofounders of one vendor company, so it is a single vendor-driven OSS project.

Therefore, Trino does not have neutrality. 

Why Neutrally-Governed Open Source Matters to You

For a Linux Foundation open source project, neutrality principles give users and developers confidence that they will be treated without a commercial agenda. In practice, some examples are:  

  • Breaking changes to the code base have to be proposed and agreed.
  • Your code contributions will be viewed purely on their technical merit. 
  • Your ability to become a committer is not limited by a vendor agenda.
  • More community innovation at the core of the project, not just peripheral features.
  • The project’s open source license will not be changed. 

I’ve been an employee in 3 different single vendor-driven OSS projects before and have seen the kinds of decisions that are made in those circumstances. The common pattern is what I call the “EE vs. CE” internal debate between sales and developers on how to balance the open sourcing of new features in the Community Edition (CE) while keeping the money-making features proprietary in the Enterprise Edition (EE). As the company grows there’s almost always a shift to the money-making features of the company. 

Join the Presto community! 

We believe in Presto and the community benefits of a neutral governance model. 

The combination of stated principles and oversight has helped Presto flourish, instead of leaning towards the agenda of any one individual, set of individuals, or company. The Presto Foundation works impartially together as a community.

Bridging the gap to bring two Presto communities together: Welcoming Starburst Data to the Presto Foundation

Steven Mih, Co-Founder & CEO

This week at Ahana we announced our company launch and vision to further grow and evangelize the PrestoDB community alongside the Linux Foundation and Presto Foundation with founding members Facebook, Uber, Twitter, and Alibaba. Also this week, Starburst Data shared a blog announcing that they joined the Presto Foundation. 

As news of Ahana and PrestoDB circulated in outlets like ZDNet, Datanami, and many more, we kept hearing the same question come up, one that community members like Thomas Spicer at OpenBridge asked in his recent blog: Why are there two Presto projects and how many do we need?

To provide context, today there are two separate Github repos, two Slack channels, two websites for Presto, and two foundations. First, there’s the original PrestoDB with Linux Foundation’s Presto Foundation. Second, there’s the similarly-named fork PrestoSQL with Presto Software Foundation, which was started and controlled by the new co-founders of Starburst Data. Whoa. 

You may be thinking, “wow, what a hot mess!” And you wouldn’t be alone. I’ve talked with many developers who feel similar and just want to code without all the confusion! Gale Hashimoto & Chiara Portner at Hopkins Carly recently blogged about open source project naming conventions and how they often advise developers. 

Fortunately, the situation is looking like it will soon be resolved.  

The Linux Foundation is one of the most experienced organizations in helping bring together developer communities. Arguably Linux Foundation is the spiritual center of open source, along with Apache Software Foundation. And the Linux Foundation has achieved unity numerous times, some examples being with Linux itself and with container image formats via the Linux Foundation’s CNCF. 

While some of this may feel like “yawn-inducing inside-baseball”, in my view it matters a whole lot. Just look at what the Linux and Kubernetes projects have achieved for the greater good of developers worldwide. 

Transparency is one of the key tenants of the Linux Foundation’s Presto Foundation (see their three main principles in the image below). Underlying the principle of a united community is an idea that software development needs to thrive, and that isn’t the case when efforts are duplicated across multiple project code bases.

Since late December of last year, I’ve been aware of many meetings and continuing efforts between Linux Foundation’s Presto Foundation and the Presto Software Foundation to align with the above principles. Over the last few days however, a breakthrough in bridging these two communities has occurred. While we won’t know the reasons for some time, I suspect that Ahana may have been the catalyst.  

I look forward to welcoming Starburst to the Presto Foundation and for the benefit of the community, I hope we can see the confusion end with: 1 foundation, 1 primary code base for new development, and 1 community.