As the creators of open source Apache Spark, Databricks has been closely connected with the success of Spark, reaching a huge (and growing) global community of developers and data scientists. But, its founders wanted to continue to elevate the company’s story to reach wider audiences -- especially business decision-makers.

With a major funding round on the horizon, specifically $140 million with Andreessen Horowitz as the lead investor, Merritt Group recommended the company leverage the news as the ideal time to reiterate its core focus on artificial intelligence, with a new thought leadership message. Working in tandem with the marketing team, Merritt Group conducted a half-day strategy session in San Francisco with Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi. The goal was to develop a thought leadership narrative around AI that could be leveraged for future news events like the funding announcement.

We helped Databricks create a message and story about “AI’s 1% problem” -- this soundbite defines a gap where the overwhelming majority of companies today are not ready for AI. Merritt Group tested the messaging with friendly reporters and analysts prior to funding, to hone the thought leadership narrative. And, when it came time for the Series D funding round in August 2017, Databricks’ CEO took this message far and wide to reach the business audience. The announcement was favorably covered in Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg TV, Fortune, Forbes, CNBC, Business Insider, TechCrunch, and more. AI’s 1% problem and Databricks’ funding news received widespread coverage and elevated Databricks to new levels of market awareness.

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