CNBC Disruptor 50

37. Databricks

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Founders: Ali Ghodsi (CEO), Matei Zaharia, Reynold Xin, Ion Stoica, Patrick Wendell, Andy Konwinski, Arsalan Tavakoli-Shiraji
Launched: 2013
Headquarters: San Francisco
Funding:
$1.8 billion
Valuation: $28 billion
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning
Industry:
Enterprise technology
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 1 (No. 36 in 2020)

Persephone Kavallines

An economic crisis can be bad for the software sector. Corporate clients cut back on vendors and the boom times for start-ups trading at high sales multiples can quickly end.

San Francisco-based Databricks, which was doubling its revenue on an annualized basis ahead of Covid-19, could have suffered that fate in a previous era. But the pandemic's influence on how we work and live accelerated the adoption of cloud services at a previously unimaginable clip.

Now the company — which is used by corporate clients most often to clean up large volumes of data in data visualization software such as Salesforce-owned Tableau, and prepare it for analysis — is on pace to generate $1 billion or more in 2022 revenue.

Databricks' success has been predicated on helping companies implement a version of Apache Spark, an alternative to the Hadoop technology for storing lots of different kinds of data in massive quantities. It removes the hassle of configuring and updating third-party software and doesn't require clients to copy data into its software in order to work with it. Instead, data can stay where it already is, such as in Amazon Web Services' widely used S3 object-storage system, and Databricks can still crunch the data.

It is also increasingly helping organizations deploy artificial intelligence models.

Last year witnessed the largest software IPO ever, Snowflake, and people are talking about Databricks in a similar way, both as a potential blockbuster deal and competitive threat.

While data analysts often look to Snowflake to execute queries on data, the two companies are beginning to overlap. In November, Databricks introduced technology for querying data stored in its software using the popular SQL language. Data science consulting company Datagrom published a blog post in November entitled, "Snowflake vs. Databricks: Where Should You Put Your Data?"

Investment from the mega-cap tech companies suggests Databricks has a big future as a public company. It raised $1 billion at a $28 billion valuation in February, with the top three U.S. cloud infrastructure providers -- Amazon, Google and Microsoft -- all participating. Investors were interested in sinking $2 billion to $3 billion into Databricks during the funding round, CEO Ali Ghodsi said on CNBC at the time.

—Contributed by Jordan Novet

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