Finnish open-source-as-a-service startup Aiven adds $1bn to valuation

Demand for PostgreSQL and Kafka driving interest in cloud service, CEO tells The Register

Finnish open-source-as-a-service provider Aiven received $210 million in funding this week, adding $1 billion to its nominal valuation in just nine months.

The Series D cash injection – led by Eurazeo, and joined by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock as well as existing investors IVP, Atomico, Earlybird, World Innovation Lab, and Salesforce Ventures – follows $60 million Series C funding which valued the firm at $2 billion.

The latest investment round values the company at $3 billion. It's remarkable considering it only supports open-source software and was worth $800 million when it got its first $100 million tranche of Series C funding in March last year.

Aiven sells open-source data technologies as a managed service. Unlike some DBaaS systems, which sell proprietary or less permissive licenses for their as-a-service offerings built on open-source technologies, Aiven says it provides a stack of as-a-service systems in their true open-source form.

CEO Oskari Saarenmaa said the company's capitalization was more than sufficient from the earlier round but when the opportunity came for more funding, the company took it in order to help fund long-term growth.

He said the company had increased its headcount by 50 percent since it last announced funding, with new offices secured in Japan and Singapore. Around one-third of the workforce remains in Helsinki, though.

Saarenmaa said the company currently had around 140 open positions. It is looking for engineers to help build its own platforms, but also developers to contribute to the open-source projects to which it contributes. "As we're growing, we want to have teams that can be close to customers, so we're looking for solution architects, tech support and salespeople."

Aiven was founded in 2016. The CEO argues that investor confidence is based on the fact that there are tens of millions of software developers worldwide. When they want to build something new, they are keen to do that on open-source software and the easiest way for them to do that is in the cloud, on software provided as a service.

Because Aiven only provides open-source systems this way, developers can be confident their applications can be ported to other clouds or their own systems when needed.

The two open-source projects driving growth were Apache Kafka stream-processing platform and relational database PostgreSQL, Saarenmaa said. Developers are using Kafka to adapt batch processing systems to real-time processing while also building new applications with real-time as the centerpiece.

Meanwhile, PostgreSQL was emerging as the de facto standard open-source database.

"PostgreSQL has developed so much over the years that it is now so fully featured today. You can build anything on top of that. Another thing that is working in its favor is it is truly community-driven. There is no one single company behind it and there is a very wide group of dev in the project," he said. ®

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