Hey Presto! IBM buys VC-backed SaaS player Ahana

IBM said yesterday it was interested in mergers and acquisitions but we didn’t expect it to move this fast – it has just bought Ahana, which supplies the Presto in-memory, distributed SQL datalake query engine as a service in its Ahana Cloud.

Presto is a Facebook (now Meta)-originated open-source project to provide datalake analytics using a distributed SQL query engine. It is popular and has thousands of users, including Intel, Uber and Twitter. Facebook started the project in 2012 and contributed it to the Linux Foundation in 2018 with it forming the Presto Foundation.

The acquisition news came via a Big Blue blog by Vikram Murali, VP Hybrid Data Management, who wrote: “We’re thrilled to share that IBM has acquired Ahana, the venture-backed SaaS for Presto startup company, and we want to write more about our belief in Open Source and why IBM and Ahana are joining forces for the benefit of Presto.”

Stephen Mih

Ahana was started up in 2020 in San Meteo by CEO Stephen Mih, CTO David Simmen, chief product officer Dipti Borkar, and principal software engineers Vivek Bharathan, Ashish Tadose and George Wang. With $7.8 million in seed funding they wanted to make Presto easier to use and better integrated with other parts of the data lake analytics ecosystem.

Their development efforts were rewarded with a $20 million A-round fund raise the next year, a $7.2 million extended A-round last year, and ultimately a total of $32 million raised, according to VentureBeat. The acquisition price has not been revealed but speculation is in the $100 million+ area, which – if correct – would make this a classic Silicon Valley startup success story.

The Ahana Cloud runs on AWS and makes it simpler and easier to run Presto queries across huge data lakes.

Ahana graphic

At the time of the A-round,  the Presto open-source project had enjoyed massive growth that year, with hundreds of thousands of pulls of the Docker Sandbox Container for Presto hosted by Ahana, more than 1,000 members in global Presto meetups, and 10 companies that signed on to the Presto Foundation.

Now, Murali writes: “The project has 14.6K Github stars, saw a 110 percent growth of members in the community over the past year, and an engagement rate of close to 50 percent across all of the Presto community channels.” He talks about Uber’s use of Presto: “The scale of Presto at Uber is just as impressive. With 20 clusters that process 100M+ queries each day, Uber depends on Presto to run ad-hoc analytics for its 7K weekly active users.“

Ahana graphic

IBM’s open-source credentials are stronger than ever, dating from its original support for Linux in the late ’90s, working with Linux, Apache and Eclipse, investing $1 billion from 2001 onwards, and buying Red Hat in a landmark deal in 2018 for $34 billion. Murali also noted that IBM was “a founding member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which fostered the growth of Kubernetes.” 

IBM is now a member of the Presto Foundation and inherits Ahana’s role in the Presto Foundation Outreach Committee plus Ahana’s four Presto project committers and two Technical Steering Committee members. 

Murali closes his post by saying: “We believe we’re entering an exciting next chapter of Presto, and we look forward to sharing more with the community as we move forward.”

There is nothing about the IBM acquisition on Ahana’s website yet.


The four Presto creators at Facebook – Dain Sundstrom, Martin Traverso, David Phillips and Eric Hwang – left Facebook in 2018, a year before Presto was donated to the Linux Foundation. The trio named their code fork PrestoSQL, which rebranded to Trino, and set up Starburst to sell Trino connectors and support. 

There is a Facebook document about Presto’s history here.