MapR raises $50 million and gains CellOS business

Microsoft has bought a company called Genee, which develops artificially intelligent assistants which do some of the work that secretaries do. Genee calls its software “power scheduling personal assistant for Office 365”, Microsoft’s suite of applications which includes Word and PowerPoint. Essentially Genee is designed to respond to emails and update diaries, and is one of many such applications on the market. Tech watchers believe such virtual or intelligent assistants will be part of a huge market within a few years, and the technology is one of the reasons the big companies are investing so much money in artificial intelligence. Genee was founded a couple of years ago by Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, who will join Microsoft as a result of the acquisition. Lee says: “We consider Microsoft to be the leader in personal and enterprise productivity, AI, and virtual assistant technologies, so we look forward to bringing our passion and expertise to a team that is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and intelligence services.” Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president, Outlook and Office 365, says in his blog that the Genee team will further Microsoft’s ambition to bring into every digital experience. “Genee uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one,” says Jha. AI on the future All of the big tech companies have made it clear that they are prioritising artificial intelligence as the single-most important technology objective for the future. Whichever one can produce the AI-driven apps that work best will become as dominant as Google is in online search, or even more important. At the moment, rather than relying on their in-house computer boffins to write the best algorithms, the companies are throwing money at the race. According to a report by Magister Advisors, AI companies — many of which were previously unknown startups like DeepMind — are being bought for more than $2 million per employee. As Victor Basta, managing director at Magister Advisors, says: “A good AI engineer is worth more than many company CEOs right now.” Other recent acquisitions include Apple buying Turi, and Intel buying Nervana.

MapR has secured a further $50 million in funding, bringing its total investment to almost $200 million. 

The investment rounds have included Google Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund, New Enterprise Associated, Qualcomm Ventures and Redpoint Ventures.

John Schroeder, founder and CEO, MapR Technologies, is quoted by as saying: “Our ongoing momentum is fuelled by a world-class team that is driving innovation and growth across every facet of our organisation.

“This new funding strengthens our balance sheet as we look ahead to an initial public offering.”

Meanwhile, MapR, which claims to be the only provider of a converged data platform, has also signed up CellOS for its services.

Converged data platforms are a relatively new service, and they essentially bring together different services that previously were provided separately.

A converged data platform can provide real-time data, data storage and database tasks all in one convenient location.

The MapR Converged Data Platform integrates Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark with real-time databases, global event streaming, and enterprise storage.

Apache is thought to be the world’s most widely-used web server software.

CellOS, which provides software for communications, says it will use the MapR platform with Apache Drill and Apache Spark to help monetise mobile broadband.

The data flowing in broadband networks continues to grow at breakneck pace, says CellOS, and communication service providers are growing increasingly aware of the value of this data.

“We view MapR as an ideal partner that fits our focus on providing real-time solutions for a streaming database,” said Kamlesh Patel, the CEO of CellOS Software.

“With impressive scaling and performance, the MapR Platform helps us offer an even more powerful and unique solution in the market for real-time applications. This really is a new era for us.”

Among features CellOS will offer is the Zoomdata stack, which provides visual analysis of big datasets in seconds, says the company.

“Due to our real-time price performance envelope, the MapR Platform will create added value to CellOS’ already impressive offering,” said Martin Darling, APAC vice president, MapR Technologies.

“CellOS selected the MapR Converged Data Platform for its streaming architecture, allowing data to be processed as it arrives. Additionally, the cost of reliable storage will become a key component of the big data business case as data volumes continue to grow tremendously.”