Tamr Emerges With $16M to Crack Data Curation for Enterprises

5/19/14Follow @gthuang

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early traction and has done large-scale pilots with the likes of Novartis and Thomson Reuters. Palmer cites one customer who found that, of the $60 million worth of data it licensed, about one-third was redundant. In other words, the company could save $20 million if it had better visibility into its data. “Just seeing what data assets you have is a big deal,” Palmer says.

What’s more, he draws an analogy between what Tamr does for corporate databases and what search engines do for the Web. Connecting and ranking Web pages with algorithms, he says, is a bit like connecting and understanding data sources for big companies. “This is where we believe the enterprise has to go, like the modern consumer Internet,” he says.

Of course, once a company sees all its data, it still needs to make sense of it—that’s a huge, separate challenge in analytics. Tamr is positioning its software as sitting next to companies’ existing big-data platforms, toolkits, and data-visualization systems.

So, unlike Vertica or Endeca, Tamr’s technology does not include a storage platform. It’s also different from companies like Hadapt and DataGravity, which are more focused on analytics. (Though DataGravity does seem to have in common the idea of helping enterprises extract insights from data hidden in different silos.) So far, Tamr looks more similar to data intelligence companies like Trifacta, Paxata, and ClearStory, but it’s a little early to compare them definitively.

I asked Palmer for his thoughts on returning to a startup CEO role, versus angel investing and mentoring other entrepreneurs. “It’s really liberating for me to work on one project I really care about,” he says. “I’m an operating guy. I love to do real work.”

And the tech community is primed to see if that work—the latest in a series of Palmer-Stonebraker collaborations—will pay off in terms of a big local company, or an exit. The best indication that Tamr ultimately will be worth the duo’s time? “Our wives are good friends,” Palmer says with a laugh. “Their filter for us to start a new company is really, really high.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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