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Charting the way to realizing the potential of confidential AI

Rishabh Poddar
5 min read

This week, we and our co-founders Ion Stoica, Wenting Zheng, and Chester Leung are thrilled to announce that we closed our Series A funding bringing our total funding to $31.6 million. We are also excited to announce that Ion Stoica, Founder & Chairman of Databricks and co-founder of Opaque, will be formally joining our board of directors. As we closed this funding, seeing the strong interest we received and investor confidence in Opaque’s confidential computing platform for multi-party analytics and AI was an honor. The strong interest was also a testament to the MC2 technology we first conceived in the RiseLab at UC Berkeley.

RiseLab and AMPLab have given birth to numerous cutting-edge open source projects, including Spark for data processing and Ray AI open source for scalable AI. At Berkeley, together with Professors Raluca Ada Popa and Ion Stoica, our mission was to unlock the $54 billion market of confidential computing by creating the first platform that enables secure, collaborative analytics and AI in Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs). We succeeded in creating our first breakthrough invention, MC2, that we incubated and open sourced while at Berkeley. MC2 was soon adopted by banks and institutions to run analytics on encrypted data secured in TEEs. The success of MC2 drove us to start Opaque Systems and pioneer the first-ever collaborative analytics and AI platform for confidential computing.  With our deep background in security and Raluca’s globally-recognized expertise in security and applied cryptography, we are poised to accelerate the growth of confidential computing.

At Opaque, we’ve created a platform that further opens up the ability to perform collaborative scalable analytics on encrypted data, while protecting data end-to-end and enabling organizations to comply with legal and regulatory mandates. Opaque leverages a novel combination of two key technologies layered on top of cloud security—secure hardware enclaves and cryptographic fortification. This combination ensures that the overall computation is secure, fast and scalable.

At its core, Opaque helps organizations analyze encrypted data in the cloud (in cloud enclaves and confidential VMs) using familiar tools like Apache Spark, while ensuring the data is not exposed between parties or to the cloud provider. It also applies privacy-enhancing analytics and machine learning to confidential data regardless of where it comes from, allowing disparate organizations to better collaborate with each other, all while preserving the privacy of their confidential data.

With Opaque, organizations can now protect data and applications in use by isolating sensitive data in an encrypted enclave during processing. The potential of the use cases we unlock in confidential computing is tremendous. The confidential computing market is forecast to grow 26X over the next five years, from about $2 billion in 2021 to $54 billion by 2026, according to Everest Research. A big part of that growth is expected to be generated by multi-party analytics and computing, which is Opaque’s core value proposition.

Take the rapid spread of COVID, for instance. Effective contact tracing could have saved countless lives, but it was difficult to share information between parties because of confidentiality concerns around the different patient silos. A problem like that is solved with a technology like Opaque. Or consider money laundering, where the actors and data reside across multiple banks and each bank holds certain data relating to laundering activity. The Opaque platform enables data to be securely shared and analyzed by multiple parties or between business units, while the confidentiality of each party is maintained and data is protected end to end. In other words, we make it possible to analyze encrypted data while keeping each bank’s data confidential and supporting analytical queries that track transactions and identify patterns across multiple institutions.

This new funding will help propel Opaque into our next phase of growth as we work to serve the accelerating market demand for collaborative analytics and AI in confidential computing. We’ll push product innovation forward via R&D efforts and continue to hire top talent with the goal of providing organizations around the world with a secure solution to collaboratively analyze their confidential data.

With our Board of Directors and investors Walden Catalyst Ventures, Storm Ventures, Thomvest Ventures, Intel Capital, Race Capital, The House Fund, and FactoryHQ, we are paving the way to enable multi-party scalable analytics and machine learning on encrypted data and opening the enormous opportunity in confidential computing. We are excited about the future and our next chapter. Stay tuned for more, as this is just the beginning of a massive opportunity.

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