Databricks Is Investing 100 Million Euros in Its European Development Center

Databricks, a data processing and analytics platform with a strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), is investing 100 million euros (US$111 million) in its European Development Center to take advantage of the European pool of talent and cutting-edge research.

The money comes from the recent round of series F funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which included Microsoft and BlackRock, among other investors.

Founded just six years ago by the original creators of Apache Spark, Databricks quickly grew from a project at the University of California Berkeley to a cloud-based “unified data analytics platform.”

Why invest in an engineering center in Europe? A recent post on the company’s blog explains:

  • Access to talent and cutting-edge research: The Netherlands, home to world-class universities, provides Databricks with access to a large pool of talent that is uniquely suited to the company’s needs. Databricks already partners with several local universities and research centers. One such center, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), is one of the world leaders in distributed systems and database research. Expanded presence in the country and closer relationships with local universities and research labs will help Databricks to secure talent and continue translating cutting-edge research into cutting-edge products.
  • Talent retention: The Netherlands boasts a high quality of life and excellent work-life balance. The blog notes that many employees bike to work or take public transit rather than driving. One Bay Area expat mentions the city’s rich cultural life as one of the reasons to relocate, including fun things to do such as yoga at the Rijksmuseum, a Dutch national museum.
  • Supportive government policies: The Netherlands provides a “fast track” visa for knowledge workers, with streamlined entry and onboarding procedures. (Canada has a similar program in place, which allows employers to bring in high-skilled workers in just two weeks.) Many employees who relocate to the Netherlands are also eligible for the 30% ruling, which provides a significant tax incentive for up to five years.

Our Take

Increasingly, AI is about talent, and not just at the company level. Governments around the world are getting more active in providing incentives for local talent to stay at home and for employers to bring global talent in. So it is not surprising that Databricks is investing in the European Development Center, which it intends to grow into an engineering hub. It is also not surprising that the Netherlands government is actively supporting it. Will Amsterdam at some point compete with Silicon Valley, Toronto, Seattle, Boston, and New York? Time will tell.