SambaNova Systems Emerges from Stealth and Secures $56 Million in Series A Funding Led by Walden International and GV
Next-generation computing platform powers distributed machine learning, built upon technology born from concurrent advancements in Stanford’s hardware and software labs
PALO ALTO, Calif., March 15, 2018 – SambaNova Systems, a Palo-Alto-based startup developing next-generation computing platforms to power machine learning and data analytics applications, today emerged from stealth and announced $56 million in Series A funding led by Walden International and GV (formerly Google Ventures), with participation from Redline Capital and Atlantic Bridge Ventures.
Lip-Bu Tan, Chairman of Walden International and CEO of Cadence Design (NASDAQ: CDNS), will assume the role of Chairman of the Board for SambaNova and Dave Munichiello, General Partner at GV, will join the company’s board of directors.
SambaNova’s next-generation computing platform relies on simultaneous breakthroughs in both hardware and software, reimagining the underlying infrastructure for machine-learning-based applications across an enterprise. Founded in 2017 based on technology from Stanford University Professors Kunle Olukotun and Chris Ré, and led by CEO Rodrigo Liang, former Senior Vice President of Processor Development at Oracle, the company’s underlying technology is largely based on DARPA-funded research from the two professors on efficient processing for artificial intelligence.
The SambaNova team brings decades of experience pioneering new approaches in machine learning, artificial intelligence, multi-core processor technology, parallel software, and database systems. Professor Kunle Olukotun is well known for pioneering multi-core research culminating in the Niagara processor architecture. Chris Ré’s work in database theory, database systems, and machine learning has been recognized at PODS 2012, SIGMOD 2014, and ICML 2016 and with a MacArthur Genius Award. The joint work by Kunle and Chris on converged analytics has recently won several awards.
“The computing industry is going through a transition with the rapid growth of machine learning and data analytics and we are excited about the opportunities that our technology will create for our partners to develop and deploy the next generation of intelligent applications. We have exposed our technology to some of the world’s largest companies across different industries and we are excited about the broad applicability of our technology from enterprise to the edge,” said Rodrigo Liang, CEO & Co-founder of SambaNova.
“SambaNova’s innovations in machine learning algorithms and software-defined hardware will dramatically improve the performance and capability of intelligent applications. The flexibility of the SambaNova technology will enable us to build a unified platform providing tremendous benefits for business intelligence, machine learning and data analytics,” said Professor Kunle Olukotun, Co-founder and Chief Technologist of SambaNova, known as the “father of the multi-core processor”, who recently won the prestigious IEEE Computer Society’s Harry H. Goode Memorial Award.
“SambaNova has gathered a dream team of Stanford professors, PhDs and industry veterans who profoundly understand how to cooperatively optimize AI applications, machine learning algorithms, systems software, hardware architecture and silicon implementation to create a new platform for intelligent applications with exceptional capabilities,” said Lip-Bu Tan, Chairman of Walden International.
“The market for dedicated AI hardware continues to experience exponential growth, and this team uniquely understands how critical adaptability and flexibility are for ever-evolving artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches,” said Dave Munichiello, General Partner at GV. “Other platforms have been designed for AI and machine learning techniques that exist today. SambaNova’s software-defined infrastructure anticipates and supports a rapidly-evolving ecosystem. We firmly believe that over time this computing approach will lead the industry in distributed machine learning and data analytics infrastructure.”
SambaNova will use the investment to grow its world-class team of machine learning software and high-performance hardware engineers, as well as accelerate the build-out of its computing platform to deliver unprecedented performance on machine learning and big data analytics applications.
About Kunle Olukotun
Kunle Olukotun is the Cadence Design Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford University. Olukotun is well known as a pioneer in multi-core processor design and the leader of the Stanford Hydra chip multiprocessor (CMP) research project. Olukotun founded Afara Websystems to develop high-throughput, low-power multi-core processors for server systems. The Afara multi-core processor, called Niagara, was acquired by Sun Microsystems. Niagara derived processors now power Oracle’s SPARC-based servers. Olukotun is the Director of the Pervasive Parallel Lab and a member of the Data Analytics for What’s Next (DAWN) Lab which is developing infrastructure for usable machine learning. Olukotun is an ACM Fellow and IEEE Fellow for contributions to multiprocessors on a chip and multi-threaded processor design. Olukotun recently won the prestigious IEEE Computer Society’s Harry H. Goode Memorial Award. Olukotun received his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from The University of Michigan.
About Chris Ré
Christopher (Chris) Ré is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University in the InfoLab who is affiliated with the Statistical Machine Learning Group, Pervasive Parallelism Lab, and Stanford AI Lab. His work’s goal is to enable users and developers to build applications that more deeply understand and exploit data. His work has been incorporated into major scientific and humanitarian efforts, including the IceCube neutrino detector, PaleoDeepDive and MEMEX in the fight against human trafficking, and into commercial products from major web and enterprise companies. He co-founded a company based on his research that was acquired in 2017. He received a SIGMOD Dissertation Award in 2010, an NSF CAREER Award in 2011, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 2013, a Moore Data Driven Investigator Award in 2014, the VLDB early Career Award in 2015, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2015, and an Okawa Research Grant in 2016.
About Rodrigo Liang
Rodrigo Liang is currently CEO of SambaNova Systems. Prior to co-founding SambaNova, Rodrigo was Senior Vice-President responsible for SPARC Processor and ASIC Development at Oracle. He led one of the industry’s largest engineering organizations for developing high performance microprocessors – releasing 12 major SPARC processors and ASICs for enterprise servers over past 15 years. During this period, SPARC processor performance achieved numerous world records and continues to be a leader in performance for enterprise applications. Before joining Oracle through the Sun acquisition in 2010, Rodrigo was Vice President at Sun Microsystems, where he worked on the development of the Niagara line of multi-core processors. Rodrigo was Director of Engineering at Afara Websystems when it was acquired by Sun in 2002. Rodrigo holds MS and BS degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.