While the machine learning and big data technologies that collect, clean and find insights within vast data troves are still at a relatively early stage of development, the pace of change within the industry is accelerating.
Just ask Seattle startup Algorithmia, which started life as an online marketplace for algorithms and now helps data scientists deploy machine learning models at scale. The company, which was one of Built In Seattle’s 50 Startups to Watch in 2019, announced a $25 million Series B round of funding to back its latest pivot.
Through its platform, Algorithmia automates the mountain of tasks facing any data scientist who wants to build a machine learning model. Most of those tasks go into building a model’s underlying infrastructure. According to Algorithmia Director of Growth Mike Anderson, that repetitive work can take up to 75 percent of a data scientist’s time.
“We automate most of those tasks, so data scientists no longer have to think about the underlying infrastructure,” he said in an interview with Built In Seattle, “and they can deploy their models straight from a Jupyter Notebook into a fully scalable production environment.”
Norwest Venture Partners led the round, for which Madrona Venture Group, Gradient Ventures, Work-Bench, Osage University Partners and Rakuten Ventures also pitched in. In a statement, Algorithmia said it will use the funds for product development, pushing into international markets and expanding its engineering, sales and marketing teams. The company currently employs 40 people and plans to double in size over the coming year.
As the practice of machine learning matures at a near-exponential rate, we need to be able to handle whatever gets thrown at us.”
“We’re looking for people with experience in distributed systems,” Anderson said of the startup’s engineering recruitment goals. “We’re looking for people who have machine learning engineering experience, folks who may have done deployment engineering within an enterprise environment.”
Anderson said Algorithmia’s user base of data scientists and engineers is nearing 100,000 people, who work at a range of organizations that include Fortune 500 companies, intelligence agencies and the United Nations.
“As the practice of machine learning matures at a near-exponential rate, we need to be able to handle whatever gets thrown at us,” Anderson said. “So we’re building an efficient and adaptable system that works with the machine learning workflows as they develop.”
As part of the funding, Norwest Partner Rama Sekhar will join Algorithmia’s board of directors.
“AI is creating a fundamental shift in technology that is as big, if not bigger, than mobile and cloud,” he said in a statement. “Every Fortune 500 CIO has an AI initiative, but they are bogged down by the difficulty of managing and deploying machine learning models. Algorithmia is the clear leader in building the tools to manage the complete machine learning lifecycle and helping customers unlock value from their research and development investments.”