Google Investment Arm CapitalG Leads $100 Million Investment In Data Tech Firm Collibra

January 29, 2019, 1:00 PM UTC

CapitalG, an investment arm of Google parent Alphabet, has led a $100 million funding round in the data technology startup Collibra.

With the investment, Collibra is valued at over $1 billion, the company told Fortune exclusively, putting it on a increasingly crowded list of startups known as unicorns that have a value of $1 billion or more. Other investors that joined in the latest funding round include ICONIQ Capital, Index Ventures, Dawn Capital, and Battery Ventures.

Collibra specializes in so-called data governance technology that lets companies manage their corporate data so they adhere to regulatory standards as well as tracking who accesses certain files and other information. Felix Van de Maele, CEO and co-founder of Collibra, said that some of Collibra’s first customers included banks that had to comply with tougher regulation in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Collibra is now pitching its technology to businesses that fall under stringent data privacy laws in Europe called GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, as well as companies preparing for tougher U.S. privacy laws following recent California privacy legislation that goes effect in 2020.

The company’s technology, Van de Maele said, lets businesses set up policies for how certain data like Social Security numbers or emails can be used throughout the organization to prevent regulatory missteps.

Additionally, Collibra’s tools can link to data repositories stored in places like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Salesforce’s software to manage sales data. Presumably, this makes it easier for people to find information that may be scattered in different databases.

Van de Maele likens the service to how libraries archive books and give visitors tools like index cards to find books that they’re looking for.

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Collibra faces competition from a number of companies that sell technology for linking data across corporate IT products, including with IBM and Informatica. Salesforce recently spent $6.5 billion on enterprise software company MuleSoft to make it easier for its customers to access data across their corporate infrastructure.

Collibra, which loses money, hopes to stand out from the crowd by selling easier-to-use data governing tools that scan information stored both inside the data centers of its customers and in cloud computing services, Van de Maele explained.

CapitalG tech investor Derek Zanutto said he first learned about Collibra through conversations the firm had with Google engineers who were familiar with the startup’s technology. The Google engineers said corporate customers have been increasingly talking about the idea of data governance and management, which makes sense in light of recent data privacy laws.

Zanutto said CapitalG routinely asks Google employees about new technology startups to invest in. Ultimately, the goal is for CapitalG to get a good return on its investment rather than help Google scout for acquisitions or ways to grow its cloud computing business.

“It’s a level of insight that is harder to get if you aren’t within the Google family,” Zanutto said.

With the latest investment, Collibra has raised a total of $233 million. Van de Maele said that the company raised money to “invest in our growth” and could also use the money to buy smaller startups that fit with its product strategy.

“What I learned is that it’s always best to raise money when you don’t need it,” Van de Maele said.

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