Estuary: Building Real-Time Data Pipelines (Data Driven NYC talk)

In a world where everything moves ever faster, it seems inevitable that data infrastructure will need to move sooner or later to a predominantly real-time paradigm. Yet the infrastructure for real-time data is still trailing far behind its batch processing cousin.

Enter Estuary, a real-time data ops platform, in which my firm FirstMark led a large seed round last year. Estuary enables you to synchronize your data products across all your systems (whether databases, SaaS, pub/sub, etc) in real-time, and also to join aggregate, join, or otherwise take action on, your data while in motion. Estuary is not a database – instead it makes your databases real time. It abstracts away the complexity of building real-time, data-intensive applications at scale.

It was a lot of fun to host at Data Driven NYC Estuary’s co-founder and CTO Johnny Graettinger for a fun, approachable and educational talk about the company, its product and the real-time data world.

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In Conversation with Pascal Gauthier, CEO, Ledger

Since its creation in 2014, Ledger (in which FirstMark is a very proud investor) has rapidly evolved to become one of the key global players in the entire crypto and web3 ecosystem.

Ledger is mostly known as the world’s top provider of hardware wallets. Over 15% of the world’s crypto assets are secured through Ledger Nanos, with more than 4 millions units already sold in 180 countries. 

But Ledger goes much beyond hardware, providing apps and services through Ledger Live, enterprise solutions, and more.

It was great to get a chance to chat with Ledger’s CEO, Pascal Gauthier, in the context of Crypto Driven.

We had a wide ranging conversation, covering in particular:

  • the fundamental benefits of hardware to secure digital assets
  • what core technology exists within a Ledger device
  • Ledger Live, the company’s app and software platform for buying, selling, swaping and staking crypto
  • Ledger Enterprise, the company’s B2B offering
  • Some of the new products announced at Ledger’s bi-annual flagship event, Ledger Op3n, including Ledger Market, a new secure NFT Platform,  and Ledger Enterprise Create, a secure platform for brands to scale their Web3 operations with a key focus on NFTs, giving them the treasury management, NFT creation and ownership capabilities they need.

Below is the video and full transcript.

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Announcing $1B+ in New Funds

Some news: $1B in new funds!

When FirstMark Capital was founded in 2008, the idea that one could build a premier, top-tier venture capital firm out of New York was still largely considered odd, perhaps even delusional.

A barely nascent tech ecosystem, NYC at the time had few startups and even less venture firms, and seemed destined to be forever a distant satellite market to Silicon Valley.

Fast forward to today: NYC has clearly become one of the most exciting and vibrant tech ecosystems in the world.

As NYC tech grew, FirstMark grew with it.

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In Conversation with Tristan Handy, CEO, dbt Labs

In the world of data infrastructure, dbt Labs has undoubtedly been one of the most exciting startups to watch. The company is the creator and maintainer of dbt, a data transformation tool that enables data analysts and engineers to transform, test and document data in the cloud data warehouse. Beyond this, the company is empowering a new generation of data analysts and enabling them to create and disseminate organizational knowledge.

dbt’s CEO, Tristan Handy, is also one of the most thoughtful and interesting CEOs in the space, having played a pivotal role in the emergence of what’s often referred to as the “Modern Data Stack”, a suite of tools and processes that leverage the power of cloud data warehouses to bring data processing to the modern era.

We had the pleasure of hosting Tristan once during the pandemic in 2021 for a great online chat with Jeremiah Lowin, CEO of Prefect. It was a particular treat to welcome back Tristan, this time for our first in-person event since 2020!

Below is the video and full transcript. As always, please subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when new videos are released, and give your favorite videos a “like”! Also, if you’re in New York or come visit from time to time, please join the meetup group!

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In Conversation with Krishna Gade, CEO, Fiddler

As enterprises around the world deploy machine learning and AI in actual production, it’s becoming increasingly critical that AI can be trusted to produce not just accurate, but also fair and ethical results. An interesting market opportunity has opened up to equip enterprises with the tools to address those issues.

At our most recent Data Driven NYC, we had a great chat with Krishna Gade, co-founder and CEO of Fiddler, a platform to “monitor, observe, analyze and explain your machine learning models in production with an overall mission to make AI trustworthy for all enterprises”. Fiddler has aised $45 million in venture capital to date, most recently a $32 million Series B just last year in 2021.

We got a chance to cover some great topics, including:

  • What does “explainability” mean, in the context of ML/AI? What is “bias detection”?
  • What are some examples of business impact of “models gone bad”?
  • A dive into the Fiddler product and how it addresses the above?
  • Where are we in the cycle of actually deploying ML/AI in the enterprise? What’s the actual state of the market?

Below is the video and full transcript. As always, please subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when new videos are released, and give your favorite videos a “like”!

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In Conversation with Barry McCardel, CEO, Hex

In the ever vibrant world of the “Modern Data Stack” (an ecosystem of mostly young tech startups that represent the rising generation of data software vendors, and integrate well with one another), Hex has been getting increasing visibility and momentum. At its core, Hex is a collaborative data platform where teams can explore, analyze, and share. It aims to bring together the best of notebooks, BI & docs into a seamless, collaborative UI.

The company was founded in 2019 and you raised a total of $73.5 million in venture capital to date, including most recently a $52 million Series B.

CEO Barry McCardel joined us at Data Driven NYC for a deep dive in to the product, the company, the data space and his journey from doing “unholy things in Excel” as a young consultant to building a great startup.

Below is the video and full transcript.

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In Conversation with Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer, CoinShares

Meltem is one of the most visible and most thoughtful personalities in the crypto / web3 world and it was a real pleasure to welcome her at Crypto Driven.

In addition to running her always entertaining Twitter account, Meltem is Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares, a digital asset investment firm that manages $4B in assets on behalf of a global client base. She previously played a senior strategic and investing role at Digital Currency Group (in which my firm FirstMark is a proud investor).

We covered some great topics including:

  • The three phases of evolution of the crypto market
  • How crypto is impacting culture
  • Why Bitcoin has a unique place in the pantheon of crypto currencies
  • Why Meltem is a shitcoin minimalist
  • Why Meltem is excited about BitFi (DeFi on top of bitcoin)
  • How crypto venture has been overheated
  • Meltem’s excitemetn about DAOs

Below is the video and full transcript.

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The Great VC Pullback of 2022

Are we witnessing a major VC pullback? Is it temporary? What does that mean for startups? Certainly the topic du jour in startup circles.

Here’s what I’m seeing.

IS THE PULLBACK REAL?

Yes. The market is a bit all over the place, not everyone fully agrees on what’s happening, and certainly a number of financings are still taking place. But the pullback is real and already starting to show in the data (CB Insights Q1’22 report).

My sense is that the current reality of the market is a lot worse, because deal data is a trailing indicator – financings are often announced months after they closed.

We’ve rapidly, perhaps brutally, transitioned from a hyper frothy VC environment to a world where many deals are not getting done.

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In Conversation with Barr Moses, CEO, Monte Carlo

As more and more companies around the world rely on data for competitive advantage and mission-critical needs, the stakes have increased tremendously, and data infrastructure needs to be utterly reliable.

In the applications world, the need to monitor and maintain infrastructure gave rise to an entire industry, and iconic leaders like Datadog. Who will be the Datadog of the data infrastructure world? A handful of data startups have thrown their hat in the ring, and Monte Carlo is certainly one of the most notable companies in that group.

Monte Carlo presents itself as an end-to-end data observability platform that aims to increases trust in data by eliminating data downtime, so engineers innovate more and fix less. Started in 2019, the company has already raised $101M in venture capital, most recently in a Series C announced in August 2021.

It was a real pleasure to welcome Monte Carlo’s co-founder and CEO, Barr Moses, for a fun and educational conversation about data observavibility and the data infrastructure world in general.

Below is the video and full transcript.

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In conversation with Michael Gronager, CEO, Chainalysis

Chainalysis has been been playing a key role in the crypto ecosystem. As the leader in the blockchain data and intelligence market, it’s made it easier for many financial and government institutions to feel more comfortable with the space.

Chainalysis has been growing fast, having raised $360 million of venture capital to date, including most recently in Series E at $4.2 billion valuation. Before founding Chainalysis, he was the COO of Payward, the leading Euro to Bitcoin exchange. Importantly he was also a co-founder of the crypto exchange, Kraken, in San Francisco. He holds a PhD in quantum mechanics, no big deal.

Below is the video and full transcript.

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In Conversation with Carolyn Mooney, CEO, Nextmv

Our business lives are full of optimization problems – scheduling, time management, resource planning, pricing, routing, risk management, network optimization, financial engineering, etc. Simply defined, optimization is the science of making the best decision possible, given a set of constraints.

Historically, optimization has been the province of PhDs with deep backgrounds in mathematics, using a generation of software that was developed for academia and large defense contractors.

Enter Nextmv (proncounded “Next Move”), a company in which I’m a proud investor. Nextmv is reinventing the space for the cloud era, making optimization and simulation technologies available to every developer.

It was great to welcome Nextmv’s CEO, Carolyn Mooney, at our most recent Data Driven NYC to talk abotu the space and the company.

We covered:

  • What is decision intelligence, and how does it differ from business intelligence and data science?
  • What is the overlap with the area known as “operations research”?
  • How decision intelligence is broadly horizontal area
  • How Nextmv is democratizing decision intelligence with its cloud product
  • Bonus: Nextmv’s policy of radical transparency on team compensation

Below is the video and full transcript.

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In conversation with Felix Van de Maele, CEO, Collibra

The world of data governance is not the most visible part of the data revolution, yet it is of critical importance. As more and more data floats into the enterprise, and its role is ever more mission critical, one needs to be in full control of it – understand where data resides, who can have access to it, which datasets can be trusted or not, etc.

Enter Collibra, a startup that has had a long march towards success, as it was founded in 2008. Collibra has now become an impressive industry leader and raised a $250 million Series G at a post money valuation of $5.25 billion last year.

We had had the chance to host Stan Christiaens, the co-founder and CTO of Collibra at Data Driven NYC in 2017 (video here), and this time we got a chance to chat with the company’s CEO, Felix Van de Maele.

We had a great conversation, starting with a round of definitions that should be interesting to anyone curious to better understand that side of the data world.

Below is the video and full transcript.

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In Conversation with Amir Haleem, CEO, Helium

In a crypto industry that outsiders often like to criticize for its supposed lack of clear use cases, Helium stands out. The New York Times recently recognized this reality in a recent article, saying “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All.”

Helium is a decentralized wireless network, powered by cryptocurrency. Mostly focused on powering “internet of things” devices for now, it’s been rapidly evolving towards 5G.

The Helium network has experienced remarkable success over the last few years – it’s built a global network of almost 670,000 hotspots deployed around the world (see discussion to understand more about hotspots).

As most “overnight successes”, however, Helium has been many years in the making. I’ve had the honor of being part of (almost) the whole journey, as I wrote on behalf of FirstMark the first institutional check into the company back in 2013 (what would be known today as a pre-seed), and reinvested a number of times since.

Along the way, we’ve had Helium speak at our FirstMark events several times, which is a fun reminder of the journey: then CTO Sean Carey in 2014 (here), and CEO Amir Haleem in 2017 (here) and 2018 (here).

So it was great to welcome Amir back once again to chat about the latest.

Below is the video and full transcript.

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