Uptake Technologies, an industrial Big Data software company launched by Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell, has completed its fourth round of funding and plans to use the money to expand aggressively into oil, mining and the energy industries.
The fast-growing software company uses machine learning to understand how industrial equipment is working and to anticipate when it may break down. This is particularly useful for extractive industries like oil, gas and mining.
Resources producers, but oil producers in particular, have been drastically cutting costs over the last few years after the price of a barrel of oil fell so low that it barely covered the cost of production. In order to keep producing, companies opted for massive layoffs, delaying new projects and reducing the number of oil rigs they operate.
During that period of financial mayhem, they also turned to big data, especially predictive analytics, to cut costs. Good predictive analytics software can tell operators where they can expect production problems and warns them to deal with them before they arise. This means fewer crews on standby and fewer staff needed for crisis repairs. It also eliminates the need for downtime â€“ a period where a rig or a well would stop working because of maintenance, which typically costs producers millions of dollars.
Most resources and energy companies have sensors on their equipment but frequently barely use them. Some oil and mining companies have old equipment prone to breakdowns. Uptake says it aims to help customers gather data from sensors on the equipment in the field, such as locomotives and wind turbines, for analysis that can be applied to spot problems or predict failures.
The software firm is jostling for space with other companies developing similar software, including heavyweights such as General Electric, Siemens and ABB. But it now wants to use the latest funding to become a market leader in the field. The company already counts Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Panduit as clients but recently renegotiated a deal it had with Caterpillar.
In its current round of financing, Uptake has raised $117 million from investors, with the biggest portion provided by Scottish investment fund Baillie Gifford. Other participants included current investors Revolution Growth and GreatPoint Ventures.
The latest round brings total funds raised to $250 million. The company is now valued at $2.3 billion.