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Posted October 7, 2013

MongoDB's $150M Funding Signals 'Tectonic Shift' in Database Market

By Darryl K. Taft

MongoDB, provider of the MongoDB NoSQL database, recently announced it has secured a whopping $150 million in financing, led by a global financial services company and by certain funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, with additional new investors Altimeter Capital and Salesforce.com.

The funding round also included participation from existing investors Intel Capital, NEA, Red Hat and Sequoia Capital.

With more than $231 million in total investment since the company’s inception in 2007–initially as 10gen, MongoDB is now the best-funded big data technology, the company claims. MongoDB’s financing marks the largest single funding round for any database vendor, NoSQL or otherwise, the company said.

The company will use these funds to further invest in the core MongoDB project as well as in MongoDB Management Service, a suite of tools and services to operate MongoDB at scale. In addition, MongoDB will extend its efforts in supporting its growing user base throughout the world.

“Adoption of MongoDB has grown explosively over the last few years,” said Max Schireson, CEO at MongoDB, in a statement. “This funding will allow us to continue to invest in the technology and the global operation our customers require. Building the product and company to bring greater agility and scalability to how organizations manage data will require a large and sustained investment. With this additional funding we will have the staying power to make these investments.”

“When we invested in MongoDB last year, we saw a company that had the potential to transform how data is managed in the enterprise and disrupt one of the largest markets in technology,” said Harry Weller, general partner at NEA, in a statement. “Since then the growth of the user base, product maturity and team has only exceeded our expectations.”

Matt Asay, vice president of business development and corporate strategy, told eWEEK, “The relational database is arguably the most successful technology in a long, long time. But it has also been around for a long, long time. Remember cassette tapes? Electric typewriters? Or even fax machines? All of these technologies came and largely went in the last 30 years, yet the relational database (RDBMS) remains. IBM's E.F. Codd first proposed ‘A relational model of data for large shared data banks’ in June 1970, well before most developers today were even born.”

However, it turns out that modern applications don't fit the relational data model very well, he said. Semi-structured or unstructured data is the norm today, and fits into RDBMS schemas poorly, at best. Yet the entire industry is built up around the RDBMS, Asay added.

But this is changing. The big data movement has called attention to the need for a modern, innovative approach to managing data, Asay said. “We are in the early stages of a tectonic shift within the industry, and MongoDB is at the heart of it. But it's not going to be cheap or easy to effectuate a change. Hence, the $150 million.”

Moreover, “While it seems like a large sum--MongoDB is now the most heavily funded big data technology, and remains with Hadoop one of the two most popular big data technologies--it's simply the start of a long battle to help shift the world toward a much better way of managing data,” Asay said. “We'll fund most of our work through revenues, which have been skyrocketed every year since the company was founded, but we decided that we needed a near-term stimulus to help fund significant R&D and market expansion.

“Specifically, MongoDB has rightly claimed the hearts, minds and applications of developers. It is the most popular NoSQL technology by a considerable margin. But we recognize that we still have a lot of work to do to make MongoDB equally popular with the Operations people tasked with administering database systems. While we have made serious efforts to win this audience with MongoDB Management Service, including the recent addition of Backup, we need to make it even easier to scale MongoDB, optimize performance further and improve things like concurrency.”

This is perhaps the biggest opportunity: to make MongoDB as easy to manage in production as it is to develop, Asay said.

MongoDB has a thriving open source global community with more than five million downloads, 100,000 online education registrations, 20,000 user group members and 20,000 MongoDB Days attendees.

Thousands of organizations have chosen the MongoDB document-oriented database due to its agile and scalable approach. Common use cases include operational and analytical big data, content management and delivery, mobile and social infrastructure, user data management and data hub.

MongoDB has dual U.S. headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., and New York; EMEA headquarters in Dublin, and APAC headquarters in Singapore. The company also has six additional offices in Atlanta, Barcelona, London, Sydney and Washington, D.C.

The company currently has more than 320 employees worldwide.

“With this round, MongoDB establishes itself as the database of the future, with by far the strongest product, community, team and financial backing in the industry,“ said Luis Robles, venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital.“They are in a very large and competitive market, but they have all the ingredients to be big winners.”

Originally published on eWeek.

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