Netezza veterans reunite for Cazena, focused on shifting data warehouses to the cloud

Cazena CEO Prat Moghe, previously a senior vice president of Netezza, a data warehousing company acquired by IBM. Courtesy of Cazena.
Cazena CEO Prat Moghe, previously a senior vice president of Netezza, a data warehousing company acquired by IBM. Courtesy of Cazena.

A Waltham startup is coming out of stealth mode today, with $8 million in funding. Cazena reunites several veterans of Netezza, a data warehousing startup that went public and then was acquired by IBM for $1.7 billion four years ago. The deal is unusual in that it’s the first time California-based Andreessen Horowitz — the venture capital firm co-founded by the fellow who brought you the Netscape browser — has participated in a Series A round of funding for a startup here in Massachusetts. Andreessen Horowitz is investing alongside North Bridge Venture Partners, the Waltham VC firm.

Data warehousing generally refers to collecting corporate data that will be used to help make management decisions; an example would be a clothing retailer analyzing sales data about which brands are selling fastest (and slowest) to guide its discounting and advertising strategy. While Netezza sold hardware and software so that companies could build their own data warehouses, Cazena is focused on providing data warehousing as a service, charging a monthly fee.

“What Cazena is doing is data warehousing in the cloud,” says Peter Levine, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “That’s a big deal, because it shifts the economics. Rather than buying big expensive hardware, their customers can leverage cloud economics,” paying for more storage and computing power only when they need it. But the challenge for Cazena, he adds, is “to make it secure, reliable, and provide the performance and features that customers want,” and get cloud-based data warehousing to “act in the same way as a data warehouse” located inside a company’s walls.

Cazena’s chief executive is Prat Moghe, a one-time Bell Labs researcher who was also a senior executive at Netezza before and after its acquisition by IBM. One of the startup’s objectives, Moghe says, is to “speed up the time it takes to make data ready for analysis, and make it simpler.” The company is beginning to work with pilot customers this fall, but Moghe says Cazena’s formal product launch won’t be until early 2015.

Jit Saxena, Netezza’s former CEO, is on the board of Cazena — and helped bring the startup to the attention of Andreessen Horowitz, as is Jim Baum, another Netezza alum. Steve Papa, formerly CEO of the business intelligence startup Endeca, now part of Oracle, is also on Cazena’s board.

Papa will represent Andreessen Horowitz on the board of Cazena. That’s a newly-public role for him: helping Andreesen scout deals in the Boston area and sitting on boards, as a “board partner” for the firm. “A board partner can introduce a company to [Andreessen,] but also can be brought into a project [Andreessen] is already working,” Papa explains via e-mail. “In this case, they were talking to Prat and asked me to get involved given my expertise in the area.”

Papa is “an extension of our network,” says Levine at Andreessen Horowitz, “but there are a variety of people in Boston that will refer opportunities in Boston to us.” Among Andreessen Horowitz’s other active local investments are Actifio and DataGravity; both, like Cazena, are focused on helping corporate customers manage data.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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