March 07, 2018
Jason D. Rowley is a venture capital and technology reporter based in Chicago.
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There’s big data, and then there’s big data.

Chicago-based Ocient announced an approximately $10 million Series A round today in the interest of handling ever-bigger data. And how big is big in this case?

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The company’s relational database and analytics platform is capable of handling datasets in the petabyte to exabyte scale. Ocient’s platform is “designed to hold quadrillions of rows of data, ingress at speeds of billions of rows per second, and filter and compute results at rates of up to trillions of rows per second,” according to a statement from the company.

To put just one of those numbers in perspective: in 1999, Caltech researcher Roy Williams suggested that “all words ever spoken by human beings” could be stored in approximately five exabytes of data.

The company is co-founded by Chris Gladwin, Joseph Jablonski, and George Kondiles. Gladwin, who serves as Ocient’s CEO, was previously the founder and CEO of Cleversafe, a Chicago-based startup founded in 2004 that had raised $106.2 million in venture funding prior to its acquisition by IBM in 2015 for $1.3 billion in cash.

Before joining Gladwin to start Ocient, Jablonski and Kondiles were previously cofounders of Accumence and WeGather. Both have served stints as chief and senior technical staff at a number of other startups throughout the years. Jablonski was also a member of Cleversafe’s technical advisory board from inception through acquisition.

Ocient’s technical advisory board includes computer science faculty with expertise in databases from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

According to a statement from the company, Ocient took over 15,500 square feet on the eighth floor of the Boeing Building in downtown Chicago. The company has developed an on-premise development lab for testing its high-performance software. The lab has room to expand another 14,000 square feet, and, with upgrades, could harness up to four megawatts of available power capacity.

“Our technology requires both elite engineers and on-site infrastructure that can handle the extreme performance demands of exabyte scale data sets,” said Ocient’s CTO Joe Jablonski. “With this funding, Ocient will continue to recruit the best and the brightest from the world’s top computer science & engineering programs and leading technology companies, and also make the substantial investment required for a state-of-the-art development environment.”

Ocient did not disclose its investors. Cleversafe, Gladwin’s previous venture, raised from Chicago-based OCA Ventures, NEA, OS Fund, and the CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, among others.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias