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Tignis co-founders Matt McLaughlin and Jon Herlocker. (Tignis Photos)

A Seattle startup led by former VMware execs that sells machine learning as a service has raised $4.7 million in a round led by Chris Rust of Clear Ventures.

Tignis sells what it describes as “machine-learning-in-a-box” to help manufacturers, utility companies and smart buildings monitor and improve their operations.

This is the second round of financing following an initial investment last year and brings the startup’s total amount raised to $7.3 million. In addition to Rust, the company’s other investors include former VMware CEO Paul Maritz, Harel Kodesh of Silver Lake, and Ashmeet Sidana of Engineering Capital.

Tignis uses the data generated by edge computing devices to help its customers improve performance, detect real-time problems and predict when issues might occur. The idea is to give companies the benefits of machine learning tools without the need to invest in their own technology.

This is also a big part of Microsoft’s cloud computing strategy, which emphasizes “the intelligent edge” as a pivotal part of the future of distributed computing. Manufacturers and farmers are interested in using edge computing devices to detect and respond to problems across far-flung locations, which generates a ton of data from which machine-learning experts can divine insights.

CEO Jon Herlocker co-founded Tignis after leaving virtualization software company VMware, where he was vice president and CTO of the company’s cloud management business unit. Fellow co-founder and chief operating officer Matt McLaughlin was VMware’s director of engineering.

Tignis has nine employees. The company’s board of directors includes Maritz, Rust and Herlocker. Kodesh, Sidana and former Dell EMC executive Russ Stockdale are on Tignis’ advisory board.

VMware has several Seattle-area connections. The software giant is growing its Bellevue, Wash. satellite office — as are plenty of other out-of-town tech companies — and has acquired local startups such as Heptio and Cloud Coreo in recent years. Maritz was also a longtime Microsoft employee before becoming CEO of VMware in 2008.

Before its acquisition by Dell in 2016, EMC acquired VMware in 2004. EMC also acquired Seattle startup Isilon in 2010.

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