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As the amount of data created continues to exponentially expand, companies and other organizations are becomingly increasingly interested in how to make sense of the data they generate. As a result, big data startups have become increasingly popular investments for VCs. A particularly interesting area within big data is machine learning. Machine learning is a discipline that explores the construction and study of algorithms that can actually “learn” from data. These algorithms build models based on inputs and then employ these models to actually make predictions and decisions.

One machine learning startup we recently profiled was GraphLab. Started at Carnegie Mellon in 2009 as an open source project, the software was initially intended for applying large scale machine learning to graph analysis. The functionality has since been much augmented to include tables, text, images and is now in broad use to make recommendations, detect fraud, score marketing content and generally deliver predictive capabilities at many e-tailers, service providers and Fortune 500 firms.

On Thursday, GraphLab announced that it had raised a huge Series B round of $18.5 million in a funding round led by Vulcan Capital with participation from Opus Capital Ventures and existing investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Madrona Venture Group. This brings the total amount raised by GraphLab to $22.5 million. The company has also changed its name and brand from GraphLab to Dato, reflecting the evolution of its popular machine learning platform which now enables the creation of intelligent applications based on any type of data, including graphs, tables, text and images.

"The investments made in Dato will help us empower many more data scientists, software developers and engineers. We are delivering a complete environment that makes data science and its benefits accessible to every business," said CEO Carlos Guestrin, who is also a professor of data science at The University of Washington.

Some of the companies employing Dato’s technology are Adobe, Zillow, PayPal and Cisco, among others, who are using Dato’s platform to build predictive applications such as item recommendations, sentiment analysis and fraud detection.

To learn more about Dato, you can read how the startup is unleashing machine learning in the enterprise.

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