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Data Tamer raises seed funding from Google Ventures and NEA to collect and curate messy data

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 1, 2013 10:52 AM

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Keeping track of the companies spawned by MIT database guru Michael Stonebraker almost requires a full-time beat reporter. There are StreamBase and Vertica, Goby and VoltDB, Paradigm4, and back in the 1990s, there were Illustra and Ingres and Cohera.

This year, there's yet another Stonebraker startup: Data Tamer, which has raised seed funding from Google Ventures and NEA. The business side of the fledgling company is being run by Andy Palmer, a frequent Stonebraker co-conspirator. And the technological underpinnings of Data Tamer come from Stonebraker's lab at MIT, as well as work done at Brandeis by Mitch Cherniack and at Brown by Stan Zdonik.

There's no website yet, and no one involved would comment on the company. But a local venture capitalist who looked at the deal tells me that the company is focused on cloud-based tools for what's called "ETL" — extracting, transforming, and loading data. That could mean combing the web for current prices of tractor trailers, for example; cleaning it up getting it into the proper format; and then adding it to an existing database.

And according to a white paper on the academic research behind Data Tamer that was presented this month at a conference in California, Data Tamer will use machine learning algorithms to help it understand what it is finding in a particular data source, but it can also ask a human for help identifying or categorizing things that the algorithms aren't sure about.

I wrote a column about Stonebraker back in 2007: "Software pioneer is 'Johnny Appleseed' of start-ups." In 2009, I covered the creation of VoltDB.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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