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You’re hip. You’re with it. You know that if you want to a holistic sense of what’s going on in your company, you need to consult multiple types of data, not just one or two. So a basic data visualization tool might not cut it.

What you could try is something like ClearStory Data, a startup that’s been trying to simplify the process of querying and analyzing lots of different kinds of information.

Earlier this month the company took a big step forward by supporting more data types. Today ClearStory is announcing $21 million in new funding.

The money will help the startup push a new self-service version of its software for people interested in analyzing data but lacking technical skills.


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“There is no product out there that is designed for front-line users, where they’re bringing in data the front line of business owns and merging that and harmonizing that with external feeds that are readily accessible,” ClearStory cofounder and chief executive Sharmila Mulligan told VentureBeat.

Rather than solely offer everyone an all-powerful tool that can connect with mission-critical data warehouses or the Hadoop file system for storing lots of different kinds of data, ClearStory’s forthcoming “limited version” will have a more narrow focus — to specialize in publicly available data sets as well as those that customers can request at a premium charge.

Lately investors have been throwing support behind startups seeking to ease the combination of multiple data sets.

Players like Trifacta give non-experts a preview of what data will look like when the system has transformed it all for later analysis. And startups like DataHero and Statwing have been picking up traction while simplifying data visualization. But they might not be able to scale to as many data sets as software like ClearStory’s.

More entrenched data visualization tools like QlikView and Tableau exist, too, although not everyone finds them easy to use.

ClearStory’s software takes a look at data to see how well it will match up with what’s already loaded. If the current database contains a column of ZIP codes and a second one does as well but the third, fourth, and fifth ones don’t, the second one will score higher points than the others. That way, people get guidance on which databases would be the best ones to integrate.

Ultimately, the resulting analyses and visualizations can take into account a whole smorgasbord of data types — like a symphony that comes together through many different instruments. Hence Mulligan’s “harmonization” metaphor.

ClearStory’s tool is designed to be fast-acting, built as it is on top of the open-source Apache Spark query engine, which can offer performance improvements over certain parts of the Apache Hadoop software for storing and processing lots of different kinds of data.

We’ll be talking about the perks of such technologies at our DataBeat conference on May 19-20.

DAG Ventures led the new round in ClearStory. Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers also participated.

ClearStory has now raised a total of $31.5 million, including the $9 million round it announced in December 2012. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company started in 2011. Around 40 people work there, and the company expects to double that number as a result of the new funding.

Customers include Dannon and Rumble Entertainment. Mulligan wouldn’t say just how many companies pay ClearStory for its software, saying it’s “not even in the many dozens.” The new money should help bump up customer count.

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