Databricks touts itself as an A.I. company in new $140 million financing round

Key Points
  • The financing comes eight months after Databricks announced a $60 million round.
  • Databricks is now emphasizing its ability to bring artificial intelligence inside big companies.
Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi.

Databricks is riding the AI wave.

Eight months after announcing a $60 million venture round, the start-up has pulled in $140 million more and is now making sure it's seen as an artificial intelligence software developer. Tuesday's announcement of the financing contains 12 references to AI or artificial intelligence, up from zero in December.

Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, an existing Databricks investor, led the round and was joined by A.Capital Partners, Battery Ventures, Future Fund, Geodesic Capital, Green Bay Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

"We thought about it a lot, and we decided it's absolutely crucial timing, and it's important for us to do this," said Ali Ghodsi, co-founder and CEO of Databricks. "There's a huge demand for AI solutions."

When Databricks was founded in 2013, the San Francisco-based start-up was focused on the processing of big data — or analyzing vast amounts of information from different sources. Artificial intelligence wasn't as trendy as it is today.

Now that AI is raging hot and Databricks has improved AI support in its cloud service, the company is playing that theme up with investors. Databricks has around 220 employees and 500 customers, including Autodesk and HP.

But Databricks faces competition from many directions. Because its software can be used to query and visualize data and then let colleagues collaborate, Databricks could go up against business intelligence providers like Tableau. Analytics companies Alteryx and Cloudera went public in March and April, respectively, and have areas of potential overlap.

Public cloud providers Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure offer managed versions of the Apache Spark open-source software that's at the heart of Databricks' offering. Ghodsi said he doesn't see those services as competitors because they require manual work on behalf of customers.