1) How did this deal originate? Can you tell us about the first steps on the road to this investment?
The data and analytics software industry is one that OMERS Growth Equity (OGE) has been following closely. We identified data and analytics software as an attractive industry for investment a few years ago, and months of market research helped us to identify Imply as a company with a strong technical team, good market momentum, and long-term market potential.
2) What makes this sector an interesting place for investment today? Is there any conventional wisdom about this sector that is wrong or based on common misconceptions?
This investment marks our second investment in the data & analytics space (we led a Series C round in Celigo last year!) and one of our first infrastructure software investments. We are looking forward to making more investments in this space in the coming years. Many large enterprises continue to run on legacy architectures and the shift toward newer cloud-based tools remains very much in its infancy. This creates a great opportunity for investment in a relatively nascent industry. Plus the growth of “edge” computing and “Internet of Things” devices creates the need for databases that support real-time analytics. That’s where Imply comes in—it provides access to more dynamic, real-time databases that process information instantly, providing more value to enterprises across many use cases.
3) What sets this particular company apart from its competitors? What is it doing differently?
First, the Company offers the commercial version of the Apache Druid standard. Apache Druid is the leading open-source standard for real-time analytics. Second, the founders of the Apache Druid project are actively involved as management team members of Imply, which gives Imply an advantage relative to competitors. Third, Apache Druid is faster and cheaper to generate queries (a measure of database performance) than other competitors. For these reasons, Imply has an impressive client roster, including leading Fortune 500 enterprises, such as Adobe, Amazon, Pepsi and Walmart. Based on our analysis, 90%+ of the Real Time Analytics market is unpenetrated today. We believe Imply competes in a space with a $10B total addressable market.
4) OMERS invests in companies with strong management teams. What struck you about this particular group of people? What is it about them that makes them a compelling investment?
The company boasts an experienced management team consisting of the founders of the Apache Druid product as well as executives with experience from AppDynamics & a16z, Metamarkets, Splunk, and Confluent. Interestingly, FJ (Fangjin Yang) who is the CEO of the company, is a fellow Canadian and received his degrees from The University of Waterloo. The Canadian connection is always a bonus and we were particularly impressed with FJ’s technical knowledge, humility, and passion for Real Time Analytics. Go FJ!
5) How does this investment fit into the overall OMERS Growth Equity strategy?
OMERS Growth Equity invests in high-growth companies backed by exceptional entrepreneurs and investors to create companies of the future in software, healthcare, education and fintech. As a leading company in the real-time analytics space, Imply enables companies to make use of their vast datasets, which enables them to innovate more rapidly and increase their customer value. This investment fits squarely within our software growth-equity strategy and we are well-positioned to potentially lead future investment rounds and hold our investment through to IPO and beyond.