Why we invested in Onna, the world’s first Knowledge Integration Platform

Ben Blume
5 min readJun 18, 2020

While the transition of Enterprises from on-premise to cloud is often considered one of the more mature technology trends, it is in fact still in its early stages.

A recent Goldman Sachs report estimated cloud penetration of addressable technology areas across the enterprise at 10% at the end of 2019, set to rise to 13% by the end of this year and 20% by 2023.

Successful cloud applications will be built across many categories, but new collaboration tools have the potential to be some of the most impactful in improving the way that people work.

Source: Quarterly Investor Reports

Enterprise adoption of these collaboration tools is happening at a steady pace, with major platforms growing their paying user bases 10–30% over the last year. In many cases, a shift to remote working due to COVID-19 in the past three months has accelerated this trend.

With an average of 88 cloud applications per organisation as reported by Okta though, this shift creates new challenges for many companies.

Cloud native tools for integrating and managing your SaaS footprint at the data level are now well developed, with categories such as APM, iPaaS and Cloud Security allowing you to orchestrate, monitor and protect the bits and bytes as they move across your infrastructure and solutions.

Now though, privacy, security and compliance are becoming front of mind for CISOs, who are increasingly dealing with technology adopted bottom up by business users. In addition, increased information siloing is reducing employee productivity and making collaboration challenging.

Thanks to the SaaS explosion and hyper-specialization by business function, stakeholders want to weigh in on which apps they use. With this comes a shift in the traditional concept of IT centrally controlling all apps. Now, leaders are beginning to see the merits of letting LOBs … select, build and manage their own applications, processes and automations. But this can be a huge cybersecurity risk without IT oversight.Bhaskar Roy

Even after two years, most organisations still rely on manual effort to respond to GDPR requests. The Right of Access and Right to be Forgotten require an organisation to find and delete information about an employee or customer, but in a world of SaaS applications, edge computing, and data pipelines, there is no single data repository to search for an individual’s data. Stephen Manley

Illustration by @gapingvoid

In Onna, we see the emergence of a new and complementary category, providing a solution not at the data level but at the “knowledge level” — a Knowledge Integration Platform.

Consider, for example, trying to find very specific documents held somewhere in the company. You may know that the document is a contract, an invoice, or a press release. But it could have been shared on Google Docs, Slack, Dropbox, over email or through any other number of channels.

To find this information quickly, companies need infrastructure that understands the context and content of what is stored. This infrastructure — which Onna is building — has the potential to power a broad range of applications and workflow automations. This is a Knowledge Integration Platform.

The potential use cases are endless. Gathering all the knowledge around a specific project or work stream in a single click thanks to the KIP’s understanding of related entities. Or using the KIP’s understanding of key themes or sentiment across conversations to help business leaders better manage their departments.

In these cases and many others, a Knowledge Integration Platform can support and improve the productivity of everyone from an individual employee to the leader of an organisation.

Practically, Onna’s platform integrates with any tools in an organisation where knowledge resides, cloud and non-cloud. It ingests, indexes and classifies the knowledge inside. And it makes this accessible via API and in a set of Onna’s own applications in areas such as Knowledge Management and eDiscovery.

Onna’s founder Salim is a serial Entrepreneur who built his previous business serving the eDiscovery market.

Salim has approached building Onna with all of the learnings from this journey. Applications for eDiscovery and Compliance were among the first built on top of Onna’s core, and have some of the most stringent security and privacy requirements around. This meant that these areas had to be core competencies of Onna from day one.

From this starting point, Onna’s team has developed a product ready to be adopted and trusted by the largest and most sophisticated enterprises. And Onna’s eDiscovery application acts as a strong beachhead market for the company as they demonstrate their value to new customers.

Onna has seen great traction with some of the most forward thinking technology buyers in the industry like Facebook, Lyft, EA, Newscorp and Fitbit, many of whom see significant potential for Onna across their organisations.

Particularly exciting to us was to see the belief that some of the collaboration tools vendors themselves had in Onna, with both Slack and Dropbox investing in, using and promoting Onna’s solution. As these vendors look to grow their own penetration in customers with a wider range of needs and demands, partnering with Onna stands as a recognition that is is best in class.

Across all our interactions, we have been incredibly impressed with Salim and the team he has built across Europe and the US, with each team member overflowing with ideas, excited about the vision and opportunity for the company as a whole, and eager to play their part in building it into a success.

We greatly look forward to partnering with Salim and the rest of the Onna team, Slack, Dropbox and our friends at Dawn, Nauta and Glynn Capital, to build the category defining Knowledge Integration Platform.



Ben Blume

@benblume · VC @atomico · Hunting for gamechanging Enterprise founders applying hard tech innovation to massive inefficiencies and major industries