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Newton software firm Attivio lands $34m in funding

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 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.

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“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,” Riaz said.

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: 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 said. 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 said. “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 explained. “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 said that 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 Britain.

Scott Kirsner can be reached at kirsner@pobox.com.
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