Business intelligence is an increasingly well-funded category in the software-as-a-service market. By processing large amounts of data to analyze and benchmark business units, BI promises to help identify, develop and otherwise create new revenue opportunities.
Pervasive BI remains elusive, but statistics across the category show that about a third of employees use BI tools for analytics to inform strategy. According to Valuates Reports, the big data and business analytics market could be worth $684 billion by 2030, if such insanely high estimates are to be believed.
There are too many vendors in the segment to count – a few are Noagata, Fractal Analytics, Tredence, LatentView, and Mu Sigma. But either way, there is plenty of capital to go around – as evidenced by Pyramid Analytics’ latest round of funding. Pyramid, which bills itself as a “decision intelligence” platform, announced today that it has raised $120 million in Series E financing co-led by HIG Growth Partners, Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings and General Oriental Investments at a “near” $ 1 billion valuation. Co-founder and CEO Omri Kohl said the fresh money will be used to expand Pyramid’s global presence, hire new employees and improve the company’s existing software products.
Pyramid began in 2009 when Kohl and co-founders Avi Perez and Herbert Ochtman landed a development partnership with Microsoft that evolved into a full-featured BI product. Ochtman previously co-founded several companies, most notably Urix, a health data analytics company, while Kohl launched his own startups, including “micropayments” platform Pdway.
“In short, data teams in enterprise analytics are stuck in the past. It is difficult to scale data-driven decision-making in an increasingly complex world. Many tools are outdated, broken or just too complicated to use,” Kohl says. “We saw an opportunity to help businesses… transform the way people make decisions with data. We made the roadmap for [Pyramid,] that combines data preparation, business analytics and data science with the power of AI and self-service security.”
Pyramid uses machine learning and AI to automate some of the technical work involved in preparing business data, analyzing it, and building and sharing collaborative reports and dashboards. The self-service, no-code platform also uses AI to provide explanations in specific areas of interest, by tapping a query engine that can access data where it is stored.
Kohl calls this “augmented analytics,” a phrase he says reflects the use of AI to “generate insights” to support how people understand data. “Data-driven decision making is now expected from the C-suite and traditional BI tools are not delivering,” he added. “That’s where decision intelligence comes into play, bringing disparate data sources together into one intelligent platform for automated insights.”
Customers, especially those in regulated industries, may have legitimate concerns about how Pyramid processes their data. But according to Kohl, the company’s query engine, Pyrana, doesn’t need to move or transform data to perform operations on it.
“Pyrana brings the analysis to the data. This one [reduces] data latency and data volume limitations that are crippling for a remote worker. You can only download so much data to a laptop. So only a subset of datasets can be used at a time,” he said. “Essentially, our customers leave their data where it is and bring the analytics to their data.”
The problem Pyramid and its competitors are facing is one of expectations. Fifty-four percent of users who responded to a SoftwareReviews poll said they were dissatisfied with underperforming BI vendors and expressed disappointment that the platforms failed to provide new insight or find business improvement opportunities. In many cases, features that BI vendors are heavily promoting are achievable with existing platforms such as: Microsoft Power BI, Qlik and Tableau.
Some executives are also hesitant to use a BI tool they don’t trust. A 2021 study published in MIT Sloan Management Review found that many business people choose to make their own decisions when they receive suggestions from an AI system, regardless of the system’s historical accuracy.
Kohl insists Pyramid is different, pointing to the strong growth in recent months. The company has 2,450 customers (albeit a combination of direct and indirect), including the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and saw sales grow 100% year-over-year. Investors are clearly confident – the Series E was oversubscribed by $20 million.
“Differentiation is crucial, quality and completeness are the keywords. It’s not for nothing that we are fiercely independent. We want to stay true to our promise to customers to deliver a rich canvas of analytics, similar to how Adobe has created a suite for data-driven projects,” Kohl said. “We offer both strong augmented analytics capabilities and a full suite of traditional analytics capabilities.”
Jerusalem Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital and Viola Growth also participated in Pyramid’s Series E, bringing the company’s total revenue to $211 million. Pyramid currently has 245 employees spread across London, New York and Tel Aviv, and the company expects to have nearly 350 by the end of the year.