Boston Business Journal by Kyle Alspach, VC Editor
Kyle Alspach VC Editor- Boston Business Journal
A new community space aiming to stimulate "big data" talent and startups in the Boston area, Hack/Reduce, is aiming to open in June after raising more than $500,000 from seven local venture capital firms and other backers.
The space, likely to be located in Cambridge, will offer free access to data storage and processing, which software coders need to try out ideas and projects using massive sets of data, said Frederic Lalonde, co-founder and CEO of Boston big data travel startup Hopper. (See clarification below).
"We're going to be amazed at what these people do," said Lalonde, who is spearheading the center with help from advisors that include former Vertica CEO Chris Lynch and former Endeca CEO Steve Papa. "Companies are going to get funded out of this for sure. But there are also going to be some amazing projects."
Hack/Reduce has spun out as a nonprofit following five events in the Boston area in recent months, Lalonde said. A full-time community manager for the center is expected to be hired soon, he said.
The center plans to hold classes and monthly events, while also being open daily to members of the community that are either invited or recommended to the center, Lalonde said. Hadoop and non-Java platforms such as Disco will be up and running at the center, and Microsoft has donated some free access to its Azure platform.
"This is basically a place that anybody who has some sort of credibility can come in and use the resources," Lalonde said.
Probably no more than 1,000 people outside of Google really know how to do big data at a large scale, and "seven of them work for me," Lalonde said. Yet as big data increasingly becomes seen as one of the prime opportunities in tech, the demand for people with the skills should be huge, he said. "Creating a hub of that in Boston is a way to make sure we claim" a major stake in the big data, Lalonde said.
Three different locations in Cambridge are being considered for the site of the new center, and one should be finalized soon, he said.
Boston area venture firms helping to fund the center are Atlas Venture , North Bridge Venture Partners , Bessemer Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners and Matrix Partners . Other donors include VC firms Brightspark and Valhalla, along with Microsoft and Boston-based law firm Goodwin Procter.
Lalonde said the more than $500,000 in funding for the center has all been raised in the past three weeks, and the money is "still coming in." Even with the money raised so far, the center should have enough to operate for two years, he said.
Hopper, backed by $10 million in VC from Atlas and Brightspark, is jointly based in Boston and Montreal, where it was founded. The company plans to publicly launch its travel search site in the fall, Lalonde said. More on that in a post Monday.
Clarification: Hopper is currently based in the office of Boston development shop Bocoup, not in Cambridge as I originally wrote. The firm is planning to move to permanent space in the same office as Hack/Reduce, likely to be in Cambridge.