Suck on this, Larry: NoSQL pair hit the G-spot

Basho and MongoDB go far beyond the A-B-Cs

There has been plenty of talk about open-source databases growing faster than those belonging to tech dinosaurs like Oracle, but nothing tells a story quite like cash.

MongoDB and Basho, pioneers in NoSQL, yesterday separately announced that they are each receiving further wads of cash from the venture capital sources.

Open-source document database MongoDB is to receive $80m from its backers and maker of the Riak NoSQL key-value data store, Basho, is taking $25m from its own.

I would call these two companies startups, but that’s stretching a point: MongoDB was founded in 2007 and Basho in 2008.

Also, both sets of money are Series G. Typically, startups work through rounds A to D and then either stop sucking up cash or go public. Series G is rare, unless your VCs are happy bobbing mid-bubble.

MongoDB has now taken $311.1m from 12 investors and Basho $57.5m from five investors.

In funding terms, at least in recent times, it is extremely rare for an enterprise business to crack a G-round. This is certainly not the case with consumer apps and businesses – Uber took $2.4bn in two separate funding drops in 2014 – but in enterprise technology, nobody is breaking the G-barrier.

What’s happening here?

NoSQL is supposed to be manifest destiny: a perfect money storm of big, unstructured data supposedly unsuited to the relational databases that have dominated business. Customers have tired of forking over hefty licence fees to Larry Ellison’s Oracle, the thinking goes.

On paper there’s plenty of room to grow at Oracle’s expense: this one single company accounts for half of the relational database market. Everybody else – Microsoft, IBM and some others – make up the remaining 50 per cent.

And so both firms are growing – or so they claim.

Basho reckons to have displaced Oracle at the NHS in the UK – although it doesn’t say where or how much, and says it has also had success in financial services, gaming and retail.

Mongo says it is used by more than 2,000 customers, including 34 of the Fortune 100, with nine million downloads.

The company reckons there’s a “major secular trend” underway in databases with the market reaching some kind of tipping point.

“These additional funds mean we can further accelerate the delivery of world-class DBMS technology while scaling the business to meet the needs of our users and customers globally,” president and CEO Dev Ittycheria said in a statement.

Basho claims the milestones it hit in 2014 were an 88 per cent increase in bookings in the second-half of the year compared to 2013, with 87 per cent of the year’s money coming from licensing and 13 per cent from professional services.

But 2014 was difficult for Basho. It named a brand-new CEO and chief technology officer in March: Adam Wray, who’d been CEO of Tier3 and Dave McCrory, who came from Warner Music Group and VMware where he’d served as CTO.

Basho’s cash will expand development and marketing.

“I have confidence Basho will establish itself as a leading unstructured data solutions provider in 2015,” Basho chairman and managing director of VC investor Georgetown partners Chester Davenport said in a statement.

What the G-force proves is that, while opportunity exists, investors are struggling to square the companies’ popularity with their ability to make money profitably.

While customers are buying open-source databases and data infrastructure, the cash isn’t necessarily flowing as they or their backers would wish.

One reason is the nature of the beast: being unable, or unwilling, to charge Oracle-scale prices simply further delays the date when funding’s no longer needed.

Another is that Basho and MongoDB want to replace decades of relational in the enterprise – a place where nobody buys anything at speed and where they must overcome decades of inertia of buying what’s known and what’s safe.

To their credit, both are taking small increments of cash to keep going – Alfresco, founded in 2005, took $45m in a round of series D in August 2014. Andreessen Horowitz and others showered year-old, real-time messaging startup Slack with $120m in October.

But there’s bigger problem – a spectre at the feast. And it’s the kind of spirit that means we could see Basho and Mongo break through single letters into size AA.

As these two hit Series G on their runway to take-off, it seems investors are willing to back their belief in this “secular trend”.

But, as one industry source pointed out to The Reg, backers with money would be wise to consider the Canonical experience. Canonical is responsible for one of the industry’s most popular Linux distros and dominates cloud. Last year 55 per cent ran OpenStack with Ubuntu - Hewlett-Packard among them with 60 per cent of Amazon instances on Ubuntu.

And yet, founded in 2004, Canonical remains steadfastly private. Sources tell us its multimillionaire founder Mark Shuttleworth has been funding things.®

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022