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Seattle data analytics startup MotherDuck emerges from stealth, reveals $47.5M in funding

MotherDuck CEO and Founder Jordan Tigani. (MotherDuck Photo)

MotherDuck is peeking its head above water.

The Seattle startup lifted the hood Tuesday on its data analytics system based on the open-source platform DuckDB.

It also announced total funding of $47.5 million to date, including a $35 million Series A round led by Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, following a $12 million seed round led by Redpoint Ventures.

Other backers include Amplify Partners, Madrona Venture Group, SV Angels and Altimeter Capital.

MotherDuck, valued at $175 million, was founded by Jordan Tigani. He previously worked as the chief product officer at database vendor SingleStore. Before that, he was a founding engineer at Google’s BigQuery.

MotherDuck is pitching a serverless analytics service built for “lightweight” use cases. It is built on the open-source platform DuckDB, an in-process online analytical processing database, or OLAP. Tigani said the startup’s initial customer base will be existing DuckDB users, data analysts and software developers.

DuckDB was co-created in 2019 by researchers Hannes Mühleisen and Mark Raasveldt at the CWI in the Netherlands. Since launching, it has gained widespread adoption from data analysts for its ability to run anywhere, including a user’s browser.

MotherDuck, which will be a monetized version of the platform, will go beyond the capabilities of DuckDB in that it lets users run analytical queries spread across multiple channels. “Some of the data may be on an analyst’s laptop, some in a cloud endpoint, and another in a different cloud endpoint,” Madrona wrote in a blog post. “MotherDuck makes it possible for an analyst to query the combination of these sources.”

The startup is currently in a private preview and plans to release a public beta in March 2023.

Tigani said the inspiration behind MotherDuck was the revelation that “Big Data” is no longer relevant.

Large cloud vendors including Snowflake, BigQuery and SingleStore are engineered to handle datasets that are much larger than what businesses typically work with, Tigani said. And because of this, the costs are often too high for companies to spend on analytics, he said.

“There don’t seem to be a whole lot of people that are focusing on the smaller market,” he told GeekWire.

Another tailwind for MotherDuck is the advancement of hardware that can handle increasing amounts of memory. Businesses can purchase relatively cheap products such as external hard drives to store their data. This eliminates the need for expensive server providers that are built for petabyte-sized datasets.

MotherDuck’s revenue will likely come from a mix of a subscription and usage-based model, with a low “getting started” cost, Tigani said.

“On the order of $10 a month, we want you to be able to do real analytics,” he said. “You can compare it to what it costs in other cloud data warehouses. They could be one to two orders of magnitude more expensive.”

There are a throng of startups and open-source platforms providing businesses with query capabilities. MotherDuck will closely compete with ClickHouse, which recently announced its own cloud-based analytics platform, and Starburst, which raised $250 million earlier this year to boost development of its decentralized query engine.

The 14-person team is comprised of veterans of Snowflake, Databricks, AWS, Meta, Elastic, Firebolt and SingleStore. Other co-founders include Leila Horejsi, a former vice president of account management at Fast; Ryan Boyd, a longtime developer relations leader who has worked for Google and others; and Tino Tereshko, a former vice president of product at Firebolt.

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