Talk to an engineer, and the world is full of big data promise. But those who work at the front end the tech industry -- business development, sales and marketing people, for example -- have largely been cut out of that conversation. That appears slowly to be changing, with the rise of startups that are dedicated to figuring out how to harness big data in a way that is digestible to those who would benefit from accessing it, but have not been able to up to now. One of these, Origami Logic, today is announcing that it is picking up a Series A round of $9.3 million to develop an analytics platform -- still in stealth mode -- that aims to give marketers access to big data in a way that is digestible and usable by them specifically. The round was led by Accel Partners, as part of its Big Data Fund, and also had participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and other investors. The company is only planning to launch its product early next year -- Origami is currently putting some trial customers on the platform now, but declined to say who they were. As it is described by Opher Kahane, the CEO and co-founder, Origami sounds fascinating, and very timely. The idea, he says, is to let sales and marketing people incorporate disparate strands of marketing data -- covering areas like CRM, social media, email campaigns, surveys, and more -- into a single platform, which then collates and processes it for them to produce salient data. In turn, that becomes usable for further campaigns, or to measure the effectiveness of those that have already been run. The name "Origami Logic" says it all: creating pretty shapes out of what otherwise looks like a flat expanse of not very much promise. In other words, big data is something that can and will be used by more than just engineers over time. "Modern marketers need to make daily, critical decisions amongst a growing plethora of customer touch points including social, mobile, web, search, display and email and a radically changing customer purchase journey," says Kahane. "Today, many marketers are faced with data silos, making it difficult to capture the entire picture." He says he wants Origami Logic to be the "single lens through which marketers derive data driven insight across all of their marketing efforts." Sounds great, but it takes a leap of faith for VCs to put a significant sum of money into a project that is treading into unchartered waters and has yet to be proven with actual customers. According to partner Jake Flomenberg (who is, along with Ping Li, joining Origami's board), part of the attraction here for Accel and the others is the fact that Kahane and his co founders, Ofer Shaked (now the CTO) and Alon Amit (VP of product) have collectively years of experience as successful entrepreneurs. Shaked had worked at Yahoo with Amr Awadalla, who is now CTO of Cloudera (another Accel portfolio company) and helped commercialize Hadoop. Shaked left Yahoo to help create CurrentTV and this is his third startup. Kahane, meanwhile, gained experience in Israeli intelligence and had also founded and sold Kagoor Networks to Juniper. Alon Amit comes from Facebook, where he had been project managing the social network's ad engine, mobile advertising and sponsored stories. The other important selling point is that Flomenberg believes that what Origami is doing is an essential evolution of how big data is being used by the tech industry. He calls Origami's proposition "Splunk for marketers," referring to the service that offers analytics to monitor enterprise apps, and he believes that this will be something that will become even more commonplace in the world of big data. "Both myself and the others at Team Accel, we think data-driven apps are the next stage for big data. Without apps to make big data usable, it will reamin a big pile of data siloed in different places." Indeed, the idea, says Kahane, is to incorporate as many applications as a person would want to into its platform. "We are entirely open on the idea," he says. "The vision is to take marketing tools that are already in use today, for example Buddy Media or Hootsuite for social media management, Exact Targeting for e-marketing; Eloqua for email; Google for ads. These would become data sources on the hub that we’re building." There is of course the question of how Origami Logic will fit in with all the marketing platforms -- and big players -- that are already established in this space. I personally think that this sounds like just the sort of technology that Salesforce either needs to build or buy. On that point, Kahane is sanguine for now. He sees companies like this as competitors only in the "longer term," he says. For now, "It’s about stitching together... We are more like partners. Their experience has been about content management, whereas we are on the analytical side. Longer term, as these companies try to stitch these things toether, there is a cometptive force, but it will be hard for the larger guys to be focused and nimble as we can be for now." In addition to using the new funds to continuing development of the platform, Origami Logic will also use some of it to staff up. The company is currently hiring engineering, design and data science folks, and encourages people to email them for more details if they're interested.
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