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Big Data Startup Snowflake Raises $45 Million, Launches First Product

The company aims to make analyzing data easy.

Snowflake Computing

Snowflake, a big data startup led by longtime Microsoft executive Bob Muglia, has landed a $45 million funding round led by Altimeter Capital and announced the general availability of its product for analyzing business data in the cloud.

The funding brings Snowflake’s total capital raised to $71 million. Prior investors Redpoint Ventures, Sutter Hill and Wing VC all participated in the round.

Muglia spent 23 years at Microsoft, most notably as president of its massive Server and Tools group, and left that unit when it was a $17 billion business annually. He joined Snowflake last year as the company came out of stealth.

Snowflake’s aim is to make it easier for companies to gain insights from certain kinds of data by offering a data storage and analytics service that runs entirely in the cloud. It’s called Snowflake Elastic Data Warehouse, and Muglia argues that it’s a little different from other services that handle data in the cloud. For one thing, it’s being offered as a cloud application or a software-as-a-service basis.

Snowflake uses the lingua franca of database languages, SQL, to manage and sort through data generated by machines. Customers can pour as much data into it as they want, assigning as many employees to work with it as is required, and pay only for the service that they use. It can work with a mix of data types, both structured data (arranged neatly in rows and columns) and unstructured data (less organized and often trickier to work with).

“We wanted to take advantage of the skills that people already have in working with data, and that means using SQL to handle both types of data,” Muglia said.

Usually the data that companies are analyzing has to do with the moments before and after a purchase is made online. There’s a lot to be learned from that time frame, especially when information about millions of purchases are gathered together in one place. One customer, an online gaming company called Double Down, analyzes how small tweaks change how much longer or shorter people continue to play. “They had to track a lot of information that was coming in all the time. The tools they were using to keep track of it all were complex and difficult to keep up and running correctly,” Muglia said.

Other customers include DealBase, a hotel deals site, and The Orchard, a media distribution service owned by Sony. So far, 80 customers have signed up to use Snowflake, and as many as 20 have moved beyond the testing phase, Muglia said.

Correction: We initially misattributed a quote from Muglia to someone else.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.