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MariaDB takes a dip into Angel Pond to clean up and go public

How do you sell a product like Maria? How do you cash out within the cloud?

MariaDB Corporation Ab, which sells the popular open source database by the same name, said on Tuesday that it intends to become a public company with the help of Angel Pond Holdings Corporation.

The deal, announced in a S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commissio,n [PDF] describes the Cayman Islands-based biz as a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). It was formed by Shihuang "Simon" Xie, a co-founder of Alibaba Group, and Theodore Wang, a former Goldman Sachs partner, to raise capital from investors in order to acquire another company.

SPAC-driven deals have become popular in recent years partly as a defense against market volatility, which can complicate initial public offerings when companies try to go the traditional route to market. They also provide a clearer exit path for investors, allowing acquired firms to go public more quickly and at less cost, and to negotiate their value directly with the SPAC.

However, US government regulators have expressed concern about the rising number of SPAC-based deals. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler last May said, SPACs raise a number of policy questions, like whether retail investors are appropriately protected and how SPACs fit into the SEC mission to maintain fair markets.

Pointing to a study that found "SPAC costs are not borne by the companies they take public, but instead by the SPAC shareholders who hold shares at the time SPACs merge," he said that he had instructed SEC staff to consider possible rules or guidance with regard to SPACs.

The agreement to combine the two firms brings with it $104m in Series D private funding and an $18m PIPE: this Private Investment in Public Equity is when investors purchase restricted stock at a set price and the company commits to a resale registration so the investors can resell the shares to the public. The investment implies a value of $672m for the database company, which will operate under the name MariaDB plc once the transaction is complete.

MariaDB is a fork of MySQL, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008, itself acquired by Oracle in 2010. In 2021, the company generated $34.7m in revenue, representing 13 per cent growth, and recorded expenses of $52m. It claims $40.3m in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), representing 31 per cent growth.

"Our mission is to build the database for all, providing a perfect balance of simplicity and raw power, including unified transactional and analytical processing for everyday applications," said Michael Howard, CEO of MariaDB, in a statement. "Whether customers move to open source or into the cloud, with MariaDB they are saving up to 90 per cent of their total cost for databases."

The company claims that the three-year total cost of ownership for running MariaDB amounts to $28,000, compared to $946,200 for an Oracle database – one node, two sockets, 12 cores each.

Peter Zaitsev, founder & CEO at open source at database consultancy Percona, told The Register in a phone interview that this is exciting news for the MariaDB team and the community.

"What's interesting for me is its acquisition by a SPAC, which is not traditional for open source database technology companies," he said. He also noted that the valuation of another open source database company, Elastic NV, has imploded (-36 per cent) over the last six months.

"Enthusiasm for open source companies in the market may be shrinking," he said, "so MariaDB may be looking to go public faster." ®

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