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Business Management

Birst tops up with $65m to fuel the new BI

Birst, the San Francisco business intelligence company, has raised a further $65m. The funding round takes Birst’s war-chest to about $129m and the firm said this will be the last time it goes to the well for cash.

While funding rounds measured in the tens of millions of dollars are ten a penny (or a vast multiple of that) these days, Birst is in a very interesting and potentially lucrative area. Every CEO wants the CIO to deliver actionable insights but BI software has developed a bad rep for cost and usability. That lopsided combination has left the door open for a new wave of entrants.

I spoke briefly by phone to Birst CEO Jay Larson and founder/chairman Brad Peters. Larson described a “disintegrating” BI sector where the large traditional players have been acquired and incorporated into software stacks by giants. He didn’t name them but think of SAP buying Business Objects, Oracle buying Hyperion or IBM buying Cognos. The knock against these acquisitions is that R&D slows down and products become decreasingly relevant because they were made for a different world. Meanwhile, says Birst, the desktop BI attempts to simplify don’t have enterprise-grade scalability.

The new wave favours ease of use, quicker wins, lower prices, snappy visualisation and access to tools for non-specialists – “democratising BI” as Peters puts it. Birst is part of that wave, together with Qlik, Alteryx, Looker and others.

Quite unusually, Larson was adamant that Birst won’t seek more VC. He and Peters made the usual comments about an IPO not being an end game but if the markets are in its favour next year look for another BI firm to, well, burst through.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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