Alibaba Acquires Open-Source Data Processing Startup For $103 Million

Alibaba has acquired data Artisans (dA), a Berlin-based startup that provides distributed systems and large-scale data streaming services for enterprises, for $103 million, according to TechCrunch. The companies have been working together since 2016 to develop the architecture and performance of dA’s software.

The company’s open-source solution, Apache Flink, enables user-friendly data processing on a massive scale, making it suitable for large businesses. The two companies plan to work together to “continue and accelerate their contributions to Apache Flink and open source big data in general” following the acquisition. As a sign of commitment, Alibaba will contribute its own in-house modifications of Flink (called Blink) to the open-source community.


“Together with Alibaba, we can enhance our efforts and technology to new horizons by investing even more to open source,” wrote dA’s co-founders Kostas Tzoumas, CEO, and Stephan Ewen, CTO in a blog post. “We can expand to new areas that we have not explored in the past and make sure that the Flink becomes a more valuable data-processing framework for modern, data-driven and real-time enterprises.”

Alibaba is seeking to foster the growth of open-source communities around data processing technologies, accelerate stream-processing adoption and further develop a supportive environment for developers globally. The retailer believes this will drive the development of big data technologies through open-source projects and communities in areas including batch processing and machine learning, which developers can leverage to power AI, the Internet of Things and other real-time processing applications.

Alibaba has been making a particularly strong push into AI. The retail giant debuted a temporary FashionAI concept store in July 2018 at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The store used AI-powered smart mirrors to let shoppers add items to their virtual shopping carts, and remotely select alternate colors or accessories and have them brought directly to the dressing room. While the concept store only operated for three days, Alibaba plans to add the technology to existing locations in the future.

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