AITech Interview with Chris Lynch, Executive Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of AtScale

Meet Chris Lynch, the dynamic Executive Chairman and CEO of AtScale. With a proven track record in technology leadership, he’s driving innovation in data management solutions, revolutionizing the way enterprises handle their data.

In AI-Tech Park’s commitment to uncovering the path toward realizing enterprise AI, we recently sat down with Chris Lynch, an esteemed figure in the industry and accomplished Executive Chairman and CEO of AtScale. With a remarkable track record of raising over $150 million in capital and delivering more than $7 billion in returns to investors, Chris possesses invaluable knowledge about what it takes to achieve remarkable results in the fields of AI, data, and cybersecurity.

During our interview, Chris shared his insights into the key leadership qualities that drive success when building a company.  He also shared the immense value of the semantic layer and how it empowers organizations to unlock the full potential of their data. Additionally, we explored the exciting future of the convergence between data, analytics, and AI, and how it paves the way for enterprise AI to become a tangible reality.

Below please find the perspectives and experiences of Chris Lynch, as he imparts wisdom that can shape the trajectory of all businesses. 

Chris, please tell us a bit about yourself and your extensive experience in the tech industry. How has each of your experiences prepared you for your next role?

We are moving into the fourth economic downcycle of my career following the downturns of 1990,2000,2008 and 2022. The macroeconomic causes might be different but the outcomes are likely to be the same. It will be a time of reckoning for over-funded, over-hyped, over-valued technology companies.  In particular, data, AI, and cybersecurity companies will face continued pressure to cut costs and streamline operations as this herd of tech unicorns struggles to demonstrate viable paths to generating returns for investors and employees.

My predictions for 2023 are simple:

As the economic softness persists, there will be a contraction in enterprise spending on technology as management teams figure out the duration of this downturn.  But smart spending on data and analytics solutions will persist as leading teams figure out how to outpace their competitors.

In the second half of 2023, I expect some consolidation within the realms of data, analytics, AI, and cybersecurity.   The largest technology companies will put their cash to work and take advantage of lower valuations.

It is my hope that venture-backed technology companies’ management and boards will re-think equity compensation for their employees in order to keep them motivated and incentivized. My simple advice for investors and leaders is not to panic and stop investments. Instead,  be selective and invest in great ideas, great teams, and great people.

Please give us a brief overview of AtScale and its origin story. What makes AtScale stand apart from its competitors?

AtScale was founded in 2013 as a highly scalable alternative to traditional OLAP analytics technologies like Microsoft SSAS, Business Objects, Microstrategy, or SAP BW.  However, our true breakthrough came with the enterprise’s shifting data infrastructure to modern cloud data platforms.  AtScale uniquely lets analytics teams deliver “speed of thought” access to key business metrics while fully leveraging the power of modern, elastic cloud data platforms.  Further, what sets AtScale apart is its highly flexible semantic layer.  This layer serves as a centralized hub for governance and management, empowering organizations to maintain control while avoiding overly constraining decentralized analytics work groups.

How do AtScale’s progressive products and solutions further the growth of its clients? 

AtScale offers the industry’s only universal semantic layer, allowing our clients to effectively manage all the data that is important and relevant for making critical business decisions within the enterprise. This is so they can drive mission-critical processes off of what matters the most – the data! 

To achieve this, AtScale provides a suite of products that enable our end clients to harness the power of their enterprise data to fuel both business intelligence (BI) and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads. We simplify the process of building a logical view of the most significant data by seamlessly connecting to commonly used consumption tools like PowerBI, Tableau, and Excel and cloud data warehouses like Google BigQuery, Databricks, and Snowflake.  

What potential do you think AI and ML hold to transform SMEs and large enterprises? How can companies leverage these modern technologies and streamline their processes?

AI and ML are going to have a profound impact on how we live, conduct our day-to-day business, and shape the global economy. It is imperative for every organization to leverage AI to streamline their operations and processes, improve their costs, and more importantly build and sustain competitive differentiation in the market. But without proper data, AI becomes inefficient and uneventful. The power of those AI models and their predictions rests in the organizational data and needs a universal semantic layer to create AI-ready data.

Why is it important for tech companies to hire the right people to lead their organizations? What qualities should they look for in their leadership roles?

Tech companies, their technology, and their solutions are only as good as the people that build them. World-class products are created by the contributions of world-class people – at all levels of an organization. To drive excellence, find people who are willing to push the boundaries of what’s possible, whether that’s sales, product, engineering, or beyond. 

These individuals must be team players who recognize the power of one mission, and that can bring that same mentality to their teams and peers. Also, great people, know great people. This understanding is key to building skillful and impactful teams in a day and age where technology is rapidly changing.  

Please tell us about the upcoming Semantic Layer Summit hosted by AtSacle. What does it focus on and what is its significance?

AtScale’s highly anticipated second annual Semantic Layer Summit, held in April 2023, drew a crowd of over 10,000 attendees. The summit featured a dynamic panel discussion with founders representing prominent semantic layer technology providers and related technologies. Participating companies included dbt Labs, Stardog, Starburst, and Cube.

During the summit, the panel covered a range of compelling topics that are currently shaping the semantic layer landscape. These included discussions on emerging concepts like Data Mesh, which revolutionizes data management and governance, Finops, which optimizes financial aspects of data operations, Data Literacy, which fosters a deeper understanding of data within organizations, and Trusted AI, which addresses the critical aspect of trustworthiness in AI applications.

The Semantic Layer Summit provided a unique platform for industry leaders and innovators to exchange insights, share best practices, and collectively explore the forefront of semantic layer technologies. The event served as a catalyst for driving advancements and fostering collaboration in these evolving areas.

According to you, what does the future of data analytics look like? What trends will shape the landscape of the industry?

I see a convergence of data, analytics, and AI rapidly approaching. AI is only as good as the data that fuels it. As generative AI gains momentum, there is a growing need to bring these technologies closer to where businesses run their core processes and workloads. Clients will seek to bridge these worlds without having to make sacrifices. 

In this convergence, security, trust, and governance will be equally important in this convergence. Cloud computing will play a pivotal role in making enterprise AI a reality.   will strategically leverage both private and public clouds to meet their specific needs and capitalize on the benefits offered by each. Skills in data management, data science, and governance will also grow as we see all these trends push forward at a rapid pace. 

What measures should be taken by organizations working with client data to keep the integrity of the company intact and the trust and data of their clients safe?    

Data governance and security best practices are paramount in the evolving landscape of data utilization. As data usage continues to rise, organizations need to prioritize the implementation of robust frameworks to safeguard their own data as well as that of their clients. While regulated industries have started to put guardrails in place on how to protect and manage data, it’s time for these practices to be adopted more broadly. 

This is why a semantic layer is so critical. A semantic layer acts as a bridge, enabling organizations to connect to common governance best practices and tools. For example,  data catalogs can greatly enhance the ability to manage and control the use of enterprise data and data assets. 

Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in life? What keeps you inspired to keep giving your best every day at work?

I often get asked why I continue to work as an operating executive at a venture-backed startup.  The bottom line is that I love it. Witnessing technology ideas turn into thriving businesses that solve real-world problems, create jobs, and create wealth is immensely fulfilling to me. I wholeheartedly believe in the American dream and remain committed to helping as many people as possible achieve it through hard work and collaboration. 

Chris Lynch

Executive Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of AtScale

Chris Lynch is the Executive Chairman and CEO at AtScale, the leading provider of semantic layer solutions for modern business intelligence and data science teams. Prior to AtScale, Chris founded and was a partner of Reverb Advisors,  an advisory firm that works with cyber security, data science, and next-generation application and infrastructure companies to achieve their entrepreneurial goals. Chris is also co-founder of hack/reduce, a non-profit that is driving Boston’s big data ecosystem, hack/secure, a non-profit shaping the cybersecurity community across the U.S., and is an advisor and mentor to dozens of entrepreneurs and startups. Chris has held CEO and leadership roles at tech startups where during his career he raised over $150M in capital and returned more than $7B to his investors. He is an avid supporter of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and has helped raise more than $1M to help fund pediatric cancer research. Chris earned his MBA from the McCallum Graduate School of Business at Bentley University and his bachelor’s degree in business management from Suffolk University. He received an honorary Doctor of commercial science degree from Bentley University.

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