Divergent Invests in TempoDB

I’m very pleased to announce that Divergent Ventures III has invested in TempoDB.   We’ve been tracking TempoDB since their graduation from TechStars Cloud 18 months ago, and have been very impressed with the progress the founding team of Andrew, Justin, and Mike have made developing a next generation cloud database focused on time series data.  I have taken a board seat to represent the series A investors (which also include the lead investor Hyde Park Venture Partners and Chicago Ventures).

Why We Invested

TempoDB fit key criteria we look for.   TempoDB fits well into our investment themes, sitting at the intersection of big data and cloud.   A core belief underlying our investment thesis is that information is accumulating on the internet at a staggering rate.   In addition to user activity on the web, the diversity of devices connected to the internet is producing a data avalanche that requires new methods to store and analyze information.   TempoDB is well positioned for expansion in the so-called “internet of things” where everything from a heart rate monitor, a water sensor, to a building is generating data that needs to be collected and turned into insight.   Additionally, as the data pace and amount increases, traditional database approaches, based on the relational model, have shortcomings in addressing the volume and form of modern internet data.   Specifically, sensor and device data have time and space as “high-order bits” that call for innate understanding in the database structure.   Advances in thinking about scale out and using the datacenter as a computer also influence the need to take a fresh look at the approach to database.  Our prior investment in Seattle based SpaceCurve also fits with this view.   Furthermore, TempoDB’s cloud based approach gives customers a solution that fits them as they scale, providing the redundancy and integrity that can be costly for companies to implement on their own.

Having database primitives focused on time also made sense to us.  I had also seen in my work at Microsoft the unique needs of time series computation in managing the Project business.   When capturing sensor data, the value is to be able to roll up moving averages based on the periodicity that makes sense in the business; as well as having the ability to track deviations in the data that indicate an extraordinary event has happened in the system.   Modeling these systems in a relational database like Oracle or Microsoft SQL, can be cumbersome and slow.

What we liked about Tempo

While we like tech accelerators like TechStars, our experience has been that after the intense period of the program is not long enough to let the team and product mature.  Moreover, the team is often still working on product market fit and moving from a basic minimum viable product to something that can serve a broader set of customers.   Tempo leveraged their techstars cloud experience well, working on connecting with developers via vehicles like the heroku store and content marketing to find the areas where the technology was most applicable.   Through this, tempo was able to develop a strong pipeline of initial and prospect customers.   The core founders, who we have been interacting with for over a year,  were not only bright but very open to learn; and on each subsequent meeting we saw how Andrew and the team reacted to the feedback and coaching we gave them informally.

Tempo is our first investment in Chicago.  The Chicago tech scene has expanded dramatically since I got involved with it in 2009 as part of teaching the NUventon Web course at Northwestern.   However, we have seen relatively few companies that fit our themes (big data, cloud/virtualization, storage, and next gen cloud apps).   Chicago has a deep reservoir of raw tech talent from the 3 universities in the area.   The areas heritage as a center for IT services also means a good pool of sales and marketing talent to grow a company.   While I spend a fair amount of time in Chicago, it helped to have the involvement of other local investors.  I’m very happy to be working with HPVP and Chicago Ventures; as well as John Ives—who has been a very active investor and board member with tempo since the beginning.  It’s also great that the company has recruited Jim Gagnard as an independent director.  He brings a wealth of experience in building and growing a technical infrastructure company, most recently at SmartSignal.

Here’s the gigaom coverage of tempo from last week: http://gigaom.com/2013/10/09/a-database-for-the-internet-of-things-tempodb-raises-3-2m/

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