The Seeds of Revolution

10 years of open source, 5 years as a startup, 3 years with venture

Last Updated: January 10, 2024

Starburst is an unusual story.

You likely know our origins by now. My co-founders are the creators of Trino (and previously Presto at Facebook). 10 years ago, they created Trino as the analytic database to stand the test of time. Much the way that Turing Award Winner Michael Stonebraker’s Postgres database remains as important and relevant today as it was decades ago, Martin, Dain, David, and Eric built Trino to be the massively parallel processing (MPP) analytic database people would use for decades to come, running fast ad-hoc SQL, BI, and batch transformation workloads on data everywhere. Funny enough, they never had any intentions to start a company around it.

5 years ago, we started Starburst with a similarly audacious goal: To build a company that would stand the test of time. It was for that reason that we didn’t raise any venture capital initially, choosing instead to bootstrap and run a profitable enterprise from inception. Funny enough, we never had any ambitions to become a venture-backed “unicorn” on a path to IPO.

3 years ago, we decided to raise venture capital from Mike Volpi at Index. At the time, we were bucking Silicon Valley tradition eschewing the venture establishment while having a ton of fun winning the hearts and minds of data-driven companies. Our customers, like Comcast and DoorDash, were running some of the largest analytical workloads in human history on the product of a 25-person bootstrapped company. Even more surprising to many venture capitalists at the time, these customers were running those workloads on Starburst and Trino rather than Snowflake. Starburst allows users to query and analyze data that lives anywhere. As a result, we have always been able to offer customers the freedom of choice, something that no database company has done before. Funny enough, we never had intentions to turn the industry on its head.

Ok, that last point isn’t exactly true. Starburst and Trino have always been revolutionary.  Honestly, that’s what gets me up in the morning. Every single day we are working to dismantle the status quo of data silos and vendor lock-in. For decades, database companies have held their customers hostage and that’s just plain wrong.

When you ingest your data into a proprietary storage format, you’re giving that vendor a monopoly on your data. As economics has taught us, once a monopoly is established, all pricing power is in the hands of the vendor. This is a movie we have seen over and over again in database history.

In addition to being trapped with escalating costs, the centralization inherent to the data warehouse model prevents you from getting access to the data that you truly need. Never in the history of modern computing has all of the data that you need existed in one single database.  It’s just not possible. Decentralization, like entropy, is as old as the universe itself. There will always be data that lives outside of a central data warehouse and those able to reach it will make better and faster decisions for their business than those who cannot.

That’s where we come in. Starburst is on the right side of history, giving our customers the freedom to decide where their data lives and the ability to analyze data that they never had access to before. This is industry disruption at its finest. Would you like to help us turn the data warehouse model inside out? Come join the revolution.

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