Lift Off: StarTree's Journey from Foundation to Future

Kishore Gopalakrishna
ByWritten byKishore Gopalakrishna
February 29, 20245 minutes read

As we turn the page on a successful Sales Kickoff 2024, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on not just the event but also the incredible journey of StarTree and the fantastic growth and accomplishments we celebrated over the last year. 

Looking Back - 4 Years for StarTree

2023 marked the fourth year for StarTree, under the banner "Building the Foundation," introduced at last year's SKO. It's been a year of laying down strong roots not just within our sales and revenue teams but also across the entire organization. I would like to highlight a few key achievements that are noteworthy: 

Apache Pinot & Community

At the core of our mission is Apache Pinot, and the community that we've built and nurtured around it is something I take great pride in. Pinot became an Apache Software Foundation incubator project in 2018 and graduated to a top-level project in 2021, solidifying its status.

Pinot had proven its versatility by finding a home with industry players like Uber, Stripe, Walmart, and Target by then. It also brought together many of the major leaders of the project, who founded StarTree to nourish Pinot’s growth and adoption. A vibrant group of contributors enriched Pinot's capabilities and impact throughout this journey. The community grew from 100 to 4,500 members and from LinkedIn and Uber to 1,000+ organizations across diverse sectors such as Retail, Food/Logistics, FinTech/Banking, AdTech, or Cloud Native/SaaS. 

Last year, Pinot's 1.0 Release was a landmark moment, the result of over 1.3 million lines of code and the hard work of more than 300 contributors. The release brought some important new features, like the support of a multi-stage query engine covering the entire spectrum of JOINs and unlocking a whole new range of applications and use cases.

StarTree Team and Leadership

What started with 18 people at our Series A in 2021, over securing $47 million in Series B funding in 2022, has now grown into a team of over 100 highly motivated and talented individuals from around the world. This team is led by a world-class group of leaders who make up the pillars of our foundation and saw some significant additions in 2023. People like Jeff Miller (CRO), Jitender Aswani (VP, Engineering), and Bhavani Akunuri (Chief of Staff), who joined over the past year, or Jess Iandiorio (CMO), who joined just this week, bring invaluable expertise and vision to StarTree and our already existing leadership. 

Product and Partnerships

2023 was a dynamic year for our StarTree Cloud product and the environment around it. 

Our product features and differentiators (JOINs, Upserts, Tiered Storage) continued to mature as we invested heavily in improving the usability, stability, and security of the product across BYOC (Bring your Own Cloud) and Public SaaS offerings. Our security posture has strengthened as we achieved SOC 2 Type 2 certification for StarTree Cloud and added integrations for Confluent Cloud and Delta Lake that allow for easy data ingestion. 

The Confluent Cloud connector was launched in the context of the “Connect with Confluent” partner program, for which we later in the year were awarded as ISV Integration Partner of the Year. We also participated in Confluent’s annual conference, Current, where Tim Berglund (VP, DevRel) presented Pinot on stage and jointly sponsored a customer event at AWS re:Invent. These go-to-market initiatives with Confluent have led to strong joint customer success stories such as Dialpad.

Our partnership with AWS also flourished as we were invited to participate in the Global Startup Program, launched our Marketplace offering, became an early-stage Vendor Insights partner, and are highlighted as a Real-Time Advertising Solutions partner. I want to specifically thank Jen Murphy (VP, Channels and Alliances) for her work on this. In only her first few months after joining us in February of 2023, she did an outstanding job of building partnerships with some of the biggest companies in the data space, like AWS, Microsoft, Confluent, and Databricks, which are all just starting to unfold their potential.

Customers/User Stories

StarTree’s mission is to get the power of real-time data into the hands of more and more organizations and their users. Nothing is more exciting than sharing a customer or user story and how they have leveraged Pinot and StarTree Cloud to accelerate their business. This year, we’ve been able to capture some truly amazing and diverse use cases: 

  • Sovrn moved customers from 24-48h delays to near real-time data 

  • Stripe powers a public-facing dashboard for their Black Friday activities

Reflecting on our 2023 mission, "Build the Foundation," I'm not just proud of the milestones we've hit; I'm thrilled about the robust platform we've established, which has propelled our growth alongside. Besides having doubled our customer footprint and revenue in the past year, there is one highlight that stands out for me: in 2023, we handled 1 billion queries per week for our customers. That’s 25x more queries per customer than the industry giant Snowflake at a lower cost per query. 

Looking Ahead - Lift Off!

With our foundation securely established, StarTree is fully operational and ready for the next year, defined by "Lift Off" - a theme that infused last week's Sales Kickoff and will drive us throughout the upcoming year.

An in-person kickoff offers an invaluable chance to synchronize our teams on a unified strategy while creating personal connections that are crucial to our success. Through engaging team-building activities and comprehensive presentations from our functional leaders, we've mapped out a shared vision for the year ahead: to pioneer innovation in the real-time data space, prioritize our customers' success, thrive for a stronger Pinot community, and embody the spirit of #OneTeam in everything we do.

The data landscape is swiftly changing, with global trends, the rising adoption of Apache Kafka, and our field experiences all signaling the beginning of a significant shift toward real-time data. An increasing number of organizations are interested in providing every internal and external decision-maker with instant, actionable insights. Our foundation positions us at the leading edge of this movement.

Last week’s Sales Kickoff was the ignition point, reminiscent of a rocket needing maximum thrust at lift-off. We are now operating at full capacity and intend to maintain this momentum throughout the year. I am incredibly enthusiastic about the path ahead and the peaks we aim to achieve.