Enterprise Cassandra Player DataStax Raises $106M

As venture capital continues to flood the database market, DataStax CEO expects weaker players to start dropping out.

Jason Verge

September 4, 2014

4 Min Read
Enterprise Cassandra Player DataStax Raises $106M
A 32-node DataStax Enterprise cluster running on Raspberry Pi’s in the company’s headquarters lobby in Santa Clara. (Photo: DataStax)

DataStax, a startup that does enterprise implementations of the open source database Apache Cassandra, has raised a $106 million Series E round led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers (KPCB). The round gives the company a valuation north of $830 million and brings total funding to over $190 million.

The company will continue to drive enterprise adoption and innovation in Apache Cassandra and will further invest in the Cassandra developer community, which now spans over 80 countries.

“Investors have not only bought into the vision, but the execution,” said Matt Pfeil, DataStax co-founder and chief customer officer. “The equity will go towards further growth. Last January we expanded in Europe with an office in London and it has been very healthy growth.”

Other investors that participated in the round include ClearBridge, Cross Creek and Wasatch, which collectively manage more than $100 billion in mutual funds. PremjiInvest and Comcast Ventures came on board as additional new investors. All existing investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Scale Venture Partners, showed strong participation in the new financing.

DataStax counts 25 percent of the Fortune 100 as clients. Its enviable customer list includes Intuit, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Clear Capital, Netflix and eBay. The company has landed many customers that have migrated from traditional Oracle relational database management systems (RDBMS) to DataStax and the Apache Cassandra NoSQL database platform.

The company now has customers in 50 countries and its employee count has doubled since 2013, currently over 350 employees. Its revenue has grown more than 125 percent year over year.

“We’re solving the problems that the enterprises have better than anyone else,” said Jonathan Ellis, the company's co-founder and CTO. “DataStax is for building applications that deal with a country’s worth of users rather than a single company. Internet-first and mobile-first workloads and datasets mean you have to build an ad-hoc NoSQL database.”

NoSQL market bifurcation on horizon

Venture capital continues to find its way to the database sector.

“There’s a lot of fast followers in the market,” Ellis said. “There’s money to be made, and VC will continue to fund more competition. I have two predictions: first, the weaker players will get shaken out over the next year. The other prediction is that you’re going to see a bifurcation in the NoSQL market. There will be a market for what I call ‘hackers,’ those interested in playing with the coolest new technology and prototyping, but they’re usually on small startup teams. Their problem is not dealing with scale. The other part of the market is ‘my data doesn’t fit on single Oracle big iron, I need to distribute it’. Sharding Oracle gives horrible replication, and Cassandra solves that problem for me.”

“Cassandra is not all things to all people,” he continued. "I won’t target the hacker market if it compromises the enterprise market. In the hacker market, there will be hot new things every couple of years. When you talk about hundreds or thousands of servers worth of data, Cassandra is the answer.”

Ellis sees this as the third generation of databases. “In the 70s it was relational mainframes; the 90s saw relational on server; today it’s post-relational. You had efforts to move to non-relational before, but [non-relational databases] didn’t offer enough benefit over relational and reason to switch to something new. Now that has changed.”

KPCB Partner Matt Murphy said, "DataStax is the leader in a massive shift that is underway from relational databases to more agile NoSQL data stores for new workloads. The scalability, manageability and cost effectiveness of DataStax is not just timely, but critical at a time when companies are rapidly building out new applications and customer experiences as a competitive advantage.”

Evolution of DataStax

DataStax added Apache Spark integration a few months ago. “It’s our first toe in the water with Spark,” said Ellis. “You’ll see more in terms of making that integration deeper as we partnered with Databricks.”

“First DataStax was built on Hadoop; Hadoop is good at what it does but it didn’t do performance,” he said. “Spark delivers better performance but both are good compliments.”

DataStax also recently added a powerful in-memory option with version 4.0.

The company has developed strong partnerships with over 115 companies including Google, Accenture, Microsoft and HP. The Cassandra player is also partnering with a company called Instacluster on hosted DataStax for enterprise offering. Instacluster is hosting on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.




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