The business world is drowning in data, but Neha Narkhede is teaching companies to swim. As an engineer at LinkedIn, Narkhede helped invent an open-source software platform called Apache Kafka to quickly process the site’s torrent of incoming data from things like user clicks and profile updates. Sensing a big opportunity, she co-founded Confluent, a startup that builds Apache Kafka tools for companies, in 2014. She’s been the driving force behind the platform’s wide adoption—Goldman Sachs uses it to help deliver information to traders in real-time, Netflix to collect data for its video recommendations, and Uber to analyze data for its surge-pricing system. Confluent’s products allow companies to use the platform to, for example, sync information across multiple data centers and monitor activity through a central console.
“We view our technology as a central nervous system for companies that aggregates data and makes sense of it within milliseconds, at scale,” she says. “We think virtually every company would benefit from that and we plan to bring it to them.”