The big news around here today is the public announcement of Trifacta, a company I’ve been quietly cooking over the last few months with colleagues Jeff Heer and Sean Kandel of Stanford. Trifacta is taking on an important and satisfying challenge: to build a new generation of user-centric data management software that is beautiful, powerful, and eminently useful.
Before I talk more about the background let me say this: We Are Hiring. We’re looking for people with passion and talent in Interaction Design, Data Visualization, Databases, Distributed Systems, Languages, and Machine Learning. We’re looking for folks who want to reach across specialties, and work together to build integrated, rich, and deeply satisfying software. We’ve got top-shelf funding and a sun-soaked office in the heart of SOMA in San Francisco, and we’re building a company with clear, tangible value. It’s early days and the fun is ahead. If you ever considered joining a data startup, this is the one. Get in touch.
The genesis of the company goes back many years. I’ve known Jeff since his days a grad student at Berkeley. Since then of course he’s made a huge splash both in the HCI research community and in the open source world via tools like D3.js and Protovis. After serving on Jeff’s thesis committee and watching him move to a faculty position at Stanford, I was determined to continue working with him.
As part of the d^p project, Jeff and I began co-advising Sean Kandel. Sean has proven to be a research monster, with an unbroken string of accepted papers during 3 short years at Stanford. He also brought his experience as a financial analyst to the table, and a thirst for entrepreneurship.
Trifacta is the next phase of this collaboration. The name refers to the 3 issues that need to be addressed simultaneously to achieve this vision: People, Data, and Computation. We’re entering a period in computing history in which Data has become ubiquitous and Computation has turned into an inexpensive commodity. At this point, People are the last bottleneck to useful data analysis — both because human skills don’t improve with Moore’s Law, and because the growth in the other resources has increased the demand for people to deal with data and do analysis.
Another day I will write more about Trifacta’s initial products, but suffice it to say for now that our mission is to build software that ameliorates the human bottlenecks in analysis. Our goal is both to remove data drudgery from the workflows of experienced data scientists, and to enable self-service solutions for end-users who otherwise would not be able to take advantage of new sources of data. It’s an inherently inter-disciplinary problem, with interaction and visualization at its core, but with unique demands on systems and inference algorithms to drive an intelligent user experience over large volumes of data. And of course there’s a role for the kind of high level languages for scalable systems that I’ve been focused on for years with Bloom and the like as well.
If you made it this far, please wander over to the Trifacta website for more info. We’d love to follow up.