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Attivio collects $34 million in new funding to help companies figure out what they know

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 11, 2012 08:00 AM

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At most companies, data is scattered everywhere like autumn leaves. Some of it gets swept up into piles -- or databases -- and some of it is just strewn haphazardly around. Finding a few essential pieces of data that could point to a major problem or opportunity is just about as easy as finding two leaves of exactly the same shape and hue.

When Ali Riaz, right, talks about what his Newton software company Attivio does, it boils down to helping companies figure out what they already know, giving them access to information that may be spread across e-mails, Word documents, invoice databases, or logs of customer support calls. "What we do is integrate all the silos of data that exist today, and provide you with the opportunity to do a query, or set up rules or alerts," says Riaz. Many of Attivio's early customers are financial services institutions and government intelligence agencies, he says.

Investors seem to like the product, and the momentum Attivio is building with customers: today, the company is announcing its first outside round of funding. Oak Investment Partners is leading a $34 million round. "Before this, we had money from the founding team, but no outside venture capital," Riaz says. The company got its start in 2007.

Riaz previously was president of FAST Search & Transfer, an enterprise search company sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion in 2008. Some of the team at Attivio hails from FAST, but Attivio has also hired veterans of local companies like MathWorks and Ab Initio. " There's a culture of hard-core engineering in Boston that we are leveraging," he says. "We have a team of almost 100 people who are extremely passionate about helping companies solve this problem."

Part of the problem is understanding the links between those leaves of data that may have fallen in different places. "One thing our software does is correlations," Riaz explains. "You may have an unpaid invoice that belongs to Cisco, and we help you figure out that the reason its unpaid is that you may have all these support issues with them that you need to address."

Riaz says part of the appeal of Attivio's software, which it calls the Active Intelligence Engine, is that "we can merge into their existing information infrastructure so that we're adding value in days."

The new funding will primarily go to sales and marketing, but the company also plans to dedicate some of the $34 million to additional product development. The company is hiring in all of its offices, in Massachusetts, Israel, Germany, and the UK.

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched 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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