Dec
08
2020
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SingleStore, formerly MemSQL, raises $80M to integrate and leverage companies’ disparate data silos

While the enterprise world likes to talk about “big data”, that term belies the real state of how data exists for many organizations: the truth of the matter is that it’s often very fragmented, living in different places and on different systems, making the concept of analysing and using it in a single, effective way a huge challenge.

Today, one of the big up-and-coming startups that has built a platform to get around that predicament is announcing a significant round of funding, a sign of the demand for its services and its success so far in executing on that.

SingleStore, which provides a SQL-based platform to help enterprises manage, parse and use data that lives in silos across multiple cloud and on-premise environments — a key piece of work needed to run applications in risk, fraud prevention, customer user experience, real-time reporting and real-time insights, fast dashboards, data warehouse augmentation, modernization for data warehouses and data architectures and faster insights — has picked up $80 million in funding, a Series E round that brings in new strategic investors alongside its existing list of backers.

The round is being led by Insight Partners, with new backers Dell Technologies Capital, Hercules Capital; and previous backers Accel, Anchorage, Glynn Capital, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Rev IV also participating.

Alongside the investment, SingleStore is formally announcing a new partnership with analytics powerhouse SAS. I say “formally” because they two have been working together already and it’s resulted in “tremendous uptake,” CEO Raj Verma said in an interview over email.

Verma added that the round came out of inbound interest, not its own fundraising efforts, and as such, it brings the total amount of cash it has on hand to $140 million. The gives the startup money to play with not only to invest in hiring, R&D and business development, but potentially also M&A, given that the market right now seems to be in a period of consolidation.

Verma said the valuation is a “significant upround” compared to its Series D in 2018 but didn’t disclose the figure. PitchBook notes that at the time it was valued at $270 million post-money.

When I last spoke with the startup in May of this year — when it announced a debt facility of $50 million — it was not called SingleStore; it was MemSQL. The company rebranded at the end of October to the new name, but Verma said that the change was a long time in the planning.

“The name change is one of the first conversations I had when I got here,” he said about when he joined the company in 2019 (he’s been there for about 16 months). “The [former] name didn’t exactly flow off the tongue and we found that it no longer suited us, we found ourselves in a tiny shoebox of an offering, in saying our name is MemSQL we were telling our prospects to think of us as in-memory and SQL. SQL we didn’t have a problem with but we had outgrown in-memory years ago. That was really only 5% of our current revenues.”

He also mentioned the hang up many have with in-memory database implementations: they tend to be expensive. “So this implied high TCO, which couldn’t have been further from the truth,” he said. “Typically we are ?-? the cost of what a competitive product would be to implement. We were doing ourselves a disservice with prospects and buyers.”

The company liked the name SingleStore because it is based a conceptual idea of its proprietary technology. “We wanted a name that could be a verb. Down the road we hope that when someone asks large enterprises what they do with their data, they will say that they ‘SingleStore It!’ That is the vision. The north star is that we can do all types of data without workload segmentation,” he said.

That effort is being done at a time when there is more competition than ever before in the space. Others also providing tools to manage and run analytics and other work on big data sets include Amazon, Microsoft, Snowflake, PostgreSQL, MySQL and more.

SingleStore is not disclosing any metrics on its growth at the moment but says it has thousands of enterprise customers. Some of the more recent names it’s disclosed include GE, IEX Cloud, Go Guardian, Palo Alto Networks, EOG Resources, SiriusXM + Pandora, with partners including Infosys, HCL and NextGen.

“As industry after industry reinvents itself using software, there will be accelerating market demand for predictive applications that can only be powered by fast, scalable, cloud-native database systems like SingleStore’s,” said Lonne Jaffe, managing director at Insight Partners, in a statement. “Insight Partners has spent the past 25 years helping transformational software companies rapidly scale-up, and we’re looking forward to working with Raj and his management team as they bring SingleStore’s highly differentiated technology to customers and partners across the world.”

“Across industries, SAS is running some of the most demanding and sophisticated machine learning workloads in the world to help organizations make the best decisions. SAS continues to innovate in AI and advanced analytics, and we partner with companies like SingleStore that share our curiosity about how data and analytics can help organizations reimagine their businesses and change the world,” said Oliver Schabenberger, COO and CTO at SAS, added. “Our engineering teams are integrating SingleStore’s scalable SQL-based database platform with the massively parallel analytics engine SAS Viya. We are excited to work with SingleStore to improve performance, reduce cost, and enable our customers to be at the forefront of analytics and decisioning.”

May
11
2020
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MemSQL raises $50M in debt facility for its real-time database platform

As a number of startups get back into fundraising in earnest, one that is on a growth tear has closed a substantial debt round to hold on to more equity in the company as it inches to being cash-flow positive. MemSQL — the relational, real-time database used by organisations to query and analyse large pools of fast-moving data across cloud, hybrid and on-premise environments (customers include major banks, telecoms carriers, ridesharing giants and even those building COVID-19 tracing apps) — has secured $50 million in debt, money that CEO Raj Verma says should keep it “well-capitalised for the next several years” and puts it on the road to an IPO or potential private equity exit.

The funding is coming from Hercules Capital, which has some $4.3 billion under management and has an interesting history. On the one hand, it has invested in companies that include Facebook (this was back in 2012, when Facebook was still a startup), but it has also been in the news because its CEO was one of the high fliers accused in the college cheating scandal of 2019.

MemSQL does not disclose its valuation, but Verma confirmed it is now significantly higher than it was at its last equity raise of $30 million in 2018, when it was valued at about $270 million, per data from PitchBook.

Why raise debt rather than equity? The company is already backed by a long list of impressive investors, starting with Y Combinator and including Accel, Data Collective, DST, GV (one of Google-owner Alphabet’s venture capital vehicles), Khosla, IA Ventures, In-Q-Tel (the CIA-linked VC) and many more. Verma said in an interview with TechCrunch that the startup had started to look at this fundraise before the pandemic hit.

It had “multiple options to raise an equity round” from existing and new investors, which quickly produced some eight term sheets. Ultimately, it took the debt route mainly because it didn’t need the capital badly enough to give up equity, and terms “are favourable right now,” making a debt facility the best option. “Our cash burn is in the single digits,” he said, and “we still have independence.”

The company has been on a roll in recent times. It grew 75% last year (note it was 200% in 2018) with cash burn of $8-9 million in that period, and now has annual recurring revenues of $40 million. Customers include three of the world’s biggest banks, which use MemSQL to power all of its algorithmic trading, major telecoms carriers, mapping providers (Verma declined to comment on whether investor Google is a customer), and more. While Verma today declines to talk about specific names, previous named customers have included Uber, Akamai, Pinterest, Dell EMC and Comcast.

And if the current health pandemic has put a lot of pressure on some companies in the tech world, MemSQL is one of the group that’s been seeing a strong upswing in business.

Verma noted that this is down to multiple reasons. First, its customer base has not had a strong crossover with sectors like travel that have been hit hard by the economic slowdown and push to keep people indoors. Second, its platform has actually proven to be useful precisely in the present moment, with companies now being forced to reckon with legacy architecture and move to hybrid or all-cloud environments just to do business. And others like True Digital are specifically building contact-tracing applications on MemSQL to help address the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The company plays in a well-crowded area that includes big players like Oracle and SAP. Verma said that its tech stands apart from these because of its hybrid architecture and because it can provide speed improvements of some 30x with technology that — as we have noted before — allows users to push millions of events per day into the service while its users can query the records in real time. 

It also helps to have competitive pricing. “We are a favourable alternative,” Verma said.

“This structured investment represents a significant commitment from Hercules and provides an example of the breadth of our platform and our ability to finance growth-orientated, institutionally-backed technology companies at various stages. We are impressed with the work that the MemSQL management team has accomplished operationally and excited to begin our partnership with one of the promising companies in the database market,” said Steve Kuo, senior managing director technology group head for Hercules, in a statement.

May
15
2018
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MemSQL raises $30M Series D round for its real-time database

MemSQL, a company best known for the real-time capabilities of its eponymous in-memory database, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series D round, bringing the company’s overall funding to $110 million. The round was led by GV (the firm you probably still refer to as Google Ventures) and Glynn Capital. Existing investors Accell, Caffeinated Capital, Data Collective and IA Ventures also participated.

The MemSQL database offers a distributed, relational database that uses standard SQL drivers and queries for transactions and analytics. Its defining feature is the combination of its data ingestions technology that allows users to push millions of events per day into the service while its users can query the records in real time. The company recently showed that its tools can deliver a scan rate of over a trillion rows per second on a cluster with 12 servers.

The database is available for deployments on the major public clouds and on-premises.

MemSQL recently announced that it saw its fourth-quarter commercial booking hit 200 percent year-over-year growth — and that’s typically the kind of growth that investors like to see, even as MemSQL plays in a very competitive market with plenty of incumbents, startups and even open-source projects. Current MemSQL users include the likes of Uber, Akamai, Pinterest, Dell EMC and Comcast.

“MemSQL has achieved strong enterprise traction by delivering a database that enables operational analysis at unique speed and scale, allowing customers to create dynamic, intelligent applications,” said Adam Ghobarah, general partner at GV, in today’s announcement. “The company has demonstrated measurable success with its growing enterprise customer base and we’re excited to invest in the team as they continue to scale.”

Jun
04
2016
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How chief information officers become chief innovation officers

polygon clouds and balloon In the early 1900s, large organizations needed another type of CEO: Chief Electricity Officer. Before there was an accessible and reliable power grid to plug into, organizations that needed electricity employed a CEO to make sure they had steady and cheap access to this vital commodity. Given the aging data center architecture, it’s now the Chief Innovation Officer who is increasingly… Read More

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