Top Datapreneurs who made data science what it is today

avcontentteam 07 Dec, 2015
16 min read


I am deeply passionate about 2 fields: Data Science and start-ups.

I feel data science is the only way to enable logical decisions in this world and constantly improve yourself through self-exploration. On the other hand, I am also a start-up guy! Before on-boarding Analytics Vidhya, I had done multiple internships across various start-ups.

I have an inherent fascination and deep rooted respect for entrepreneurs. I consume any kind of content I get, which helps me understand them better. I hope one day, I’ll be able to create significant value for this world we live in through my own pursuit! So, it was only a matter of time before I put out this list – A list of datapreneurs across the globe.

Top Entrepreneurs 3


Who is a datapreneur?

A datapreneur is basically an entrepreneur focused on data science. In interest of avoiding the definition conflict, I am using data science in a broad sense – any effort made to extract information from data. So this would include Big Data, Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, Predictive Modeling, Machine learning etc.

Please see that I am excluding entrepreneurs using data science to solve other problems. Hence, you will not see Larry Page & Sergey Brin in this list! Nor would you see Airbnb or Uber. Similarly, I have not included the likes of Doug Cutting (creator of Hadoop & Lucene). Hope this gives you a purpose of this list.

Further, in order to represent this list in meaningful manner, I have divided the datapreneurs by their focus areas, namely:

  1. Data Products
  2. Data Science services
  3. Data Science Trainings
  4. Data Science Communities

A few more things to note before we look at the list:

  • The list is not in any order, each of these contribution is immense and unique!
  • Some of these companies would have overlapping presence – for example, SAS creates data products and does trainings as well. I have classified them in the area, which I thought was their primary focus


Data Products

Jim Goodnight & John Sall (SAS)

sasThe story of SAS began way back in 1976 when Jim and John decided to team up to build a product in business analytics known as SAS. SAS was originally developed to analyze agricultural data. The consistent growth registered in their revenue since 1976 has established their dominance over the years (SAS revenue in 2014 $3.09 Bn). SAS would probably be the world’s largest private software company.

Jim Goodnight

Jim Goodnight holds a doctorate in statistics from North Carolina State University, where he was a faculty member from 1972 to 1976. Harvard Business School named him a “Great American Business Leader” for his leadership of a business that has changed the way Americans have lived, worked and interacted. Jim is currently the CEO of SAS.


adamJohn Sall is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President at SAS. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Beloit College and a master’s degree in economics from Northern Illinois University (NIU). Both NIU and NC State awarded him honorary doctorate. He’s the primary architect for JMP Software. As Sall says, ‘ the goal of JMP is to make statistical modeling as friendly, accessible and informative as possible, and to increase the efficiency of experimentation.



Christian Chabot (Tableau)

tableau11Tableau is one of the most preferred product in the arena of data visualization. With in 10 years of its existence, Tableau has positioned itself as a leader in Gartner report. It is one of the fastest growing technology companies in the world.

christianchabotMr. Christian Chabot co-founded Tableau Software, Inc. and has been its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 2003. He co-founded Tableau with Chris Stolte and Pat Hanrahan. Christian has led the company to nine consecutive years of record sales and customer growth. He is the author of Understanding the Euro: The Clear and Concise Guide to the Trans-European Currency (McGraw-Hill, 1998). He holds an MBA from Stanford University, an M.Sc from the University of Sussex, and a BS from Stanford’s School of Engineering.



Michael F Koehler (TeraData)

mikeTeradata Corp. provides analytic data solutions, including integrated data warehousing, big data analytics and business applications. As of 2014, this company registered a market cap of $7.7 billion. Started in 1976, Teradata has evolved over the years with changing technologies and delivering the best solutions to their customers.

Micheal is associated with Teradata for the last 37 years. He became CEO of Teradata in 2010, and the year 2011 became the best year in its company history with more revenue growth and new customers added than any single year in its history. Teradata is one of the largest company in big data space today. Koehler holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Delaware.



Arun C Murthy (Hortonworks)

hortonHortonworks was founded in 2011 by 24 engineers in the original yahoo Hadoop team, Hartonworks is known to have accumulated more Hadoop experience under one roof than any other organization in the world.  The Hortonworks Data Platform combines the innovation of open source under the governance of the Apache Software Foundation with enterprise software rigor.

arunThe co-founding team of Hortonworks includes Arun C Murthy, Alan Gates, Devaraj Das, Eric Baldeschwieler, Mahadev Konar, Owen O’Malley, Sanjay Radia, Suresh Srivivas. The revenue made by hortonworks in 2014 was $100 million. Moreover, it registered an enormous y-o-y growth of 90%  in the first quarter of 2015. Prior to co-founding Hortonworks, Arun was responsible for all MapReduce code and configuration deployed across the 42,000+ servers at Yahoo!.



Michael Saylor (MicroStrategy)

microstrategyMicroStrategy was founded in 1989 in Wilmington, DE, by fellow MIT alumni Michael J. Saylor and Sanju Bansal. MicroStrategy’s early focus was on data mining software for businesses which later evolved into providing the most flexible, powerful, scalable, and user-friendly analytics and identity management platforms, offered either on premises or in the cloud.

MicroStrategy is positioned by Gartner, Inc. in the “Leaders” quadrant in Gartner’s 2013 “Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms” report, and in the “Challengers” quadrant in Gartner’s 2013 “Magic Quadrant for Mobile Application Development Platforms” report.


Mr. Saylor has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer since founding MicroStrategy in November 1989. Mr. Saylor holds a B.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics and B.S. in Science, Technology and Society from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Saylor is the author of bestselling book ‘The Mobile Wave’.



Roman Stanek (GoodData)

goodGoodData provides an open analytics platform that supports both IT’s need for Data Governance, security and oversight and business users’ desires for self-service Data Discovery. GoodData carries a vision to ‘change the way people experience business intelligence’.

romanRoman Stanek is a passionate entrepreneur and industry thought leader with over 20 years of high-tech experience. His latest venture, GoodData, was founded in 2007 with the mission to disrupt the business intelligence space and monetize big data. Prior to GoodData, Roman was Founder and CEO of NetBeans, the leading Java development environment (acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1999) and Systinet, a leading SOA governance platform (acquired by Mercury Interactive, later Hewlett Packard, in 2006).



Lars Bjork ( Qlik )

qlikQlik was originally founded by the late Björn Berg and Staffan Gestrelius in 1993. Their mission was to build an entirely new type of software; one able to reflect and embody the complex workings of the human mind, to create a product able to provide a truly intuitive user experience. QlikView is one of amazing software available for data visualization in the market today.


Currently, Lars Bjork is the CEO of QlikTech. He holds an MBA from the University of Lund, Sweden and a Degree in Engineering from the Technical College in Helsingborg. Before Qlik, Mr. Björk held several positions as CFO at companies such as ScandStick and Resurs Finance. Under Mr. Björk’s leadership, Qlik has grown 3x in revenues.



Alex Carp (Palantir)

palantirStarted in 2004, Palantir helps companies to find answers to the most complex questions by making products for human driven analysis of real world data. Palantir has received more than $215 million in U.S. government contract work since 2009, while FORBES estimated that the company took in about $450 million in revenue in 2013.



Palantir was founded by Alex Carp, Peter Theil, Joe Lonsdale and Stephen Cohen. Alex is the current CEO of Palantir, a Palo Alto-based software firm worth an estimated $20 billion. Alex holds has a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College, a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Stanford University, and a doctorate in neoclassical social theory from Frankfurt University.



Christophe Bisciglia (Cloudera, WibiData )

christoChristophe Bisciglia is the Founder of Cloudera, the leading developer and distributor of Hadoop, the open source software that powers the data processing engines of the world’s largest and most popular web sites and WibiData. At WibiData, he helps to create exceptional customer experiences through intelligent application of data.

Prior, Christophe worked as a senior engineer at Google where he founded and led Google’s Academic Cloud Computing Initiative, which provides Google hosted computational resources to facilitate education and research to universities around the world. He completed his education from University of Washington.



Josh James (Domo)

domoJosh founded Domo in 2010 to bring change in the process of managing business by top executives of the company by  helping them to drive value from the tens of billions of dollars spent on traditional business intelligence systems.

Prior to Domo, Josh served as CEO of Omniture, a SaaS-based web analytics company that he co-founded in 1996 and took public in 2006. Omniture was the number one returning venture investment out of 1,008 venture capital investments in 2004, as well as the number two performing technology IPO of 2006. He was named the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Brigham Young University’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Decade. In 2009, he facilitated Omniture’s sale to Adobe for $1.8 billion.



Dwight Merriman (MongoDB)


Recently, MongoDB has been included in the list of 17 best startups to work in America. To help people learn MongoDB, they also own MongoDB University where you’ll find training courses for every set of audience.

MongoDB was founded by Dwight and Eliot Horowitz in the year 2007. Dwight holds a computer science degree from Miami University. In 1995, he co-founded DoubleClick (acquired by Google for $3.1 billion) and served as Chief Technology Officer for 10 years. Earlier he was Co-Founder, Chairman, and the original architect of Panther Express (merged with CDNetworks), a content distribution network (CDN) technology. Dwight is also a Co-Founder of, and investor in, Business Insider and Gilt Groupe.



John Schroeder (MapR)

maprThis company relies on Apache Hadoop and claims to be the largest Hadoop distribution player that sells Hadoop projects and support services. Their core product is the MapR software that runs on clusters of commodity servers. The software is available in three editions. john

MapR was founded in 2009 by current CEO, John Schroeder. John holds a bachelor degree in computer science from SIU. Prior to MapR, John held executive positions in number of software companies such as Calista Technologies, Rainfinity, Brio Technologies etc. Nearly 90% of MapR’s revenues are derived from subscription to their software. The company is expected is close 2015 at a revenue figure of $200 million.



Jonathan Ellis (Datastax)

datastaxDatastax develops solution based on commercially supported, enterprise-ready Apache Cassandra, the open source NoSQL database technology widely-acknowledged as the best foundation for tackling the most challenging big data problems.

jonaDatastax was co-founded by Jonathan Ellis and Matt Pfeil. This company was founded in 2010 with a motive of  transform business and enable life-changing customer experiences for some of the world’s most innovative companies. The valuation of the company is over $830 million, which is more than double the valuation of the company 12 months ago. Datastax has got over 25 percent of the Fortune 100 as customers, and more than 400 customers around the world in 50 countries. Over the past 12 months, it’s been in hyper-growth mode.



Data Science Services

Gurjeet Singh (Ayasdi)

ayasdiAyasdi is an advanced analytics company that provides machine learning software to Fortune 500 companies to solve their complex data challenges. Ayasdi pioneered the use of Topological Data Analysis (TDA), to simplify and accelerate complex data analysis.


Ayasdi was founded in 2008 at Stanford. Gurjeet Singh is Ayasdi’s CEO and Co-Founder. Gurjeet holds a B.Tech. from Delhi University, and a Ph.D. in Computational Mathematics from Stanford University. Before starting Ayasdi, he worked at Google and Texas Instruments. Gurjeet was named by Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of their 40 Under 40 in 2015. Ayasdi has shown promising growth in the past few years and raised $55 million in March this year.


Carlos Guestrin (Dato)

datoDato is building the fastest machine learning analytics engine for graph and tabular data sets. Its key features include ultra fast data analytics, best-in-class predictive modelling, production-ready data science.

carlosCarlos is the CEO and co-founder of Dato (formerly GraphLab, Inc.) and the Amazon Professor of Machine Learning in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University. He worked as associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Dato is the company behind the fastest and most complete platform for building predictive and intelligent applications.



Srikant Velamakani (Fractal)

srikantSrikanth Velamakanni, is the Co-founder and CEO of Fractal Analytics, one of the world’s most respected pure play Analytics companies. He co-founded this company with Pranay Agarwal. Srikanth’s passion for analytics makes him a thought leader in the space, an active public speaker and evangelist at large.

Srikanth has a BS in Electrical Engineering from IIT-Delhi and MBA degree from IIM Ahmedabad. A former investment banker, he co-founded Fractal more than 14 years ago. Prior to Fractal, he worked on structured debt transactions and collateralized bond obligations at ANZ Investment Bank and ICICI.



Dhiraj C. Rajaram (Mu-Sigma)

musigmaDhiraj is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MuSigma. Dhiraj holds an MBA from the University of Chicago. He also received an M.S. in Computer Engineering from Wayne State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from College of Engineering Guindy, Anna University. He founded Musigma to build a man-machine ecosystem which helps companies institutionalize the decision supply chain.


dhirajHe is the mastermind behind streamlining companies process and workflows to deliver profitable growth. He is known to actively lead people towards achieving organization’s vision and strategic direction, building teams, aligning organizational resources to a customer centric vision. Prior to Mu Sigma, he lent his advisory services to Booz Allen Hamilton and PricewaterhouseCoopers.



Arnab Gupta (Opera Solutions)

operaThe beginning of Opera solution was marked by a loss in Netflix contest. After losing the netflix contest to build a recommender system, Arnab Gupta, Founder & CEO, hired data scientists to work creating Netflix-like algorithms for things that other businesses need: fraud detection, marketing, stock picking, risk management, procurement, etc.

Arnab founded opera solutions in 2004 and has guided the company in becoming a premier center of Big Data science and practice. He holds a MBA degree from Harvard Business School. Prior to opera solutions, he also founded a business consulting firm Mitchell Madison Group and Zeborg, a business intelligence company.  Opera is estimated to have annual revenue of $100 million.



Anil Kaul (AbsolutData)

absolutedataAbsolutData was founded by Anil Kaul with Sudeshna Dutta and Suhale Kapoor in the year 2001 with offices in US and India. This firm made $20 million in revenues in the year 2013.

Absolutdata intends to empower companies to make better decisions through optimal use of data. In 2008, Absolutdata was ranked among the fastest-growing companies in India and Asia by the ‘Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India‘ and the ‘Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific‘ programs.


Anil has over twenty years of experience in marketing, strategic consulting and quantitative modeling. He has a PhD in quantitative marketing from Cornell University. He is a recognized thought leader in the industry, having published articles in leading management and academic journals such as the McKinsey Quarterly, Marketing Science, Journal of Marketing Research and International Journal of Research in Marketing.




Andrew Ng (Coursera)

coursera_logo_RGBCoursera, one of the largest open source courses platform available on internet today, was founded by Andrew Ng with Daphne Koller. He also serves as Chief Scientist of Baidu, a Chinese language search engine.

andrewPreviously, Andrew served as an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and was the Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, the main AI research organization at Stanford, with 15 professors and about 150 students/post docs. In Fall 2011, he was the instructor of ml-class, a Machine Learning class that was one of Stanford’s first massive online courses, and had an enrollment of over 100,000 students. He is a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the 2009 IJCAI Computers and Thought award, one of the highest honors in AI.



Sebastian Thrun (Udacity)

udacitySebastian founded Udacity with a motive of democratizing education. Sebastian dreams of providing world class education to everyone so that everyone has a fair chance to apply for any job and this world will be a better place to live. He wishes to empower all people in the world through quality education.

sebastianIn addtion, from the past 12 years, Sebastian is associated with Stanford University as a Research Professor. He was also fortunate to become a Google Fellow, as well as the inventor of the autonomous car and project lead on Google Glass. Sebastian has been named the 5th Most Creative Person in Business (Fast Company), among the 50 Smartest People in Tech (Fortune), and highlighted in 50 Best Inventions of 2010 (Time).



Vik Paruchuri (Dataquest)

dataqVik founded Dataquest in November 2014 with a motive of helping people learn real world data science skills. Dataquest allows you to gain hands on experience on R, Python, Linear Algebra and other essentials modules of data science interactively.

vikPrior to Dataquest, Vik started multiple companies namely actigram labs, equirio. He has won various kaggle competitions in automated essay scoring and stock trading in the year 2012. His expertise lies in machine learning, web development and mobile development. He completed his graduation from University of Maryland. More than just knowledge, data quest allows you to work on real datasets problems which adds to your learning confidence.



Gaurav Vohra and Sarita Digumarti (Jigsaw Academy)

Jigsaw “aims to meet the growing demand for talent in the field of analytics by providing industry-relevant training and education to develop business-ready professionals.

gauravGaurav is CEO of Jigsaw academy and has founded Jigsaw with Sarita Digumarti in the year 2010. He has over 10 years of experience in the field of analytics and has worked across multiple verticals including financial services, retail, FMCG, telecom, pharmaceuticals and leisure industries. Gaurav holds a MBA degree from IIM Bangalore. His expertise lies in Process Migration and offshoring; Business Planning; Operations; Loyalty Management; CRM; Marketing Analytics; Risk Management.



Lovleen Bhatia (Edureka)

edurekaEdureka aims to make learning easy, interesting, affordable and accessible to millions of learners across the Globe. With the use of technology, excellent instruction and flexible schedule it aims to become the largest and most engaging learning platform on earth.

loveleenLovleen Bhatia, an IIT-BHU alumni co-founded Edureka in mid-2011 with Kapil Tyagi, an IIT Bombay alumni. Lovleen Bhatia is instrumental in setting up the strategic direction of the company, defining company’s priorities, driving the mission and company’s work culture. He brings with him 13 years of expertise across domains like technology, digital marketing, growth hacking, customer acquisition and hiring. Prior to co-founding Edureka, he headed the R&D at DbyDX Labs.



Data Science Communities

Anthony Goldbloom (Kaggle)

anthonyAnthony Goldbloom founded Kaggle with Ben Hamner, a startup that helps companies outsource thorny problems to data crunchers like him. Back in 2008, He had a reporting internship at The Economist in London—a position he snagged by winning an essay contest. While working on a story about predictive modeling, he spoke to people at large companies who told him how hard it was for them to make sense of data they had collected. Many companies didn’t even have anyone who could do it. That gave Goldbloom the idea: he would create a website where data scientists could compete to win cash in their spare time by solving such problems for companies.



Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro (Kdnuggets)


Gregory is a role model for us at Analytics Vidhya. He started Kdnuggets back in 1997, when people had no idea what data science is. Just imagine – this was before Google started!  The best way to understand Kdnuggets is to think of them as Craigslist of analytics – If you need any thing in data science / analytics, Kdnuggets is probably your best bet.

Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, Ph.D. is the Founder of KDnuggets, which provides consulting in the areas of business analytics, data mining, data science, and knowledge discovery. He has extensive experience developing CRM, customer attrition, cross-sell, segmentation and other models for some of the leading banks, insurance companies, and telcos. He also worked on data analysis of clinical trial, microarray, and proteomic data for several leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He is also the co-founder of ACM SIGKDD, the leading professional organization for Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining.


Rohit Sivaprasad (Datatau)

tohitRohit Sivaprasad started an online community similar to hacker news for the subject he’s interested in: data science. He doesn’t want DataTau to turn into a virtual land of obscure technical questions and answers like Stack Overflow. Instead, he’d like lots of people from all over the world to come to one site and talk with each other on a higher level.

Sivaprasad himself is a data evangelist and has built up much of his data science knowledge on his own, through online courses. He has contributed to the scikit-learn machine learning toolkit for Python.


P.S. I truly believe Kunal should be part of this list. He started Analytics Vidhya in April 2013 with a vision to remove the silos of data science knowledge across the world. Today, Analytics Vidhya is the world’s largest and fastest growing analytics community (as per Alexa ranking). However, our publishing guidelines prohibit me to put him in this list.

End Notes

I think we owe a lot to these datapreneurs for what they have done to create these products, services, trainings and communities. It is difficult to imagine the data science eco-system with out them. I also think that this is just the start of a revolution in making and we will see a lot of action in this area in coming years.

What do you think about these contributions? Do you think, there are others who should be added to this list? Or some contribution I have missed? Do let me know your thoughts in comments below.

If you like what you just read & want to continue your analytics learning, subscribe to our emailsfollow us on twitter or like our facebook page.

avcontentteam 07 Dec, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

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Responses From Readers


Mike S
Mike S 01 Sep, 2015

Great rundown, thanks.

salman 01 Sep, 2015

Nice article , but i believe that analytics vidhya also has earned its badge to be in the list , at leat that is my opinion

Sudheeer 01 Sep, 2015

Very Nice..Informative ..Thanks for all your efforts

Grant 01 Sep, 2015

Geeat article! Did notice one error, small one though; Pretty sure Karp - of Palantir - spells his surname with a 'K' and not a 'C'

Sanjay 03 Sep, 2015

Good Read . True we owe a lot to these people . No women in the list .

Krishna 04 Sep, 2015

I think, we can add Ingo Mierswa for Rapidminer. Rapidminer makes data analytics easy for business analysts as well and one among the leaders in Gartner's Magic Quandrant competing SAS and IBM in advanced analytics domain.

Suresh 15 Sep, 2015

I feel R also should be in the list

Anon 04 Dec, 2015

Nice article ... one issue though, i don't think vincent granville belongs to this list. complete fraud. Have you seen the dung grade nonsense which appears on datasciencecentral!! model free confidence intervals , regression which identifies causation (wtf?! ) list some idiocy. These articles are full of buzz words and jargon which might dazzle naive newbees . but this does much a disservice to profession overall. Vincent Granville is someone you should work to reveal for the fraud that he is rather than revere his propaganda bullshit. Please do no take this personally , many have fallen victim to his facade. AV is the one i hope can do better and come out of it. Note : you can start with googling " is vincent granville fraud " .

Rajendra.P 09 Dec, 2015

I strongly believe that 'Analytics Vidhya' should be include in the above list. I am great fan of Mr Kunal who make everyone from layman stage to think about data science everyday.

Hemant Trivedi
Hemant Trivedi 05 Jun, 2016

Nice article about Data Science and data scientists!

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