Jan
05
2021
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Chronosphere nabs $43M Series B to expand cloud native monitoring tool

Chronosphere, the scalable cloud native monitoring tool launched in 2019 by two former Uber engineers, announced a $43.4 million Series B today. The company also announced that their service was generally available starting today.

Greylock, Lux Capital and venture capitalist Lee Fixel, all of whom participated in the startup’s $11 million Series A in 2019, led the round with participation from new investor General Atlantic. The company has raised $54.4 million.

The two founders, CEO Martin Mao and CTO Rob Skillington, created the open-source M3 monitoring project while they were working at Uber, and left in 2019 to launch Chronosphere, a startup based on that project. As Mao told me at the time of the A round, the company wanted to simplify the management of running the open source project:

M3 itself is a fairly complex piece of technology to run. It is solving a fairly complex problem at large scale, and running it actually requires a decent amount of investment to run at large scale, so the first thing we’re doing is taking care of that management,

He said that the company spent most of last year iterating the product and working with beta customers, adding that they certainly benefited from building the commercial service on top of the open-source project.

“I think we’re lucky that we have the foundation already from the open-source project, but we really wanted to focus a lot on building a product on top of that technology and really have this product be differentiated, so that was most of the focus of 2020 for us,” he said.

Mao points out that he and Skillington weren’t looking for this new round of funding as they still had money left from the A round, but the company’s previous investors approached them and they decided to strike to add additional money to the balance sheet, which would help grow the company, attract employees and help reassure customers they had plenty of capital to continue building the product and the company.

As the company has developed over the last year, it has been adding employees at a rapid clip, growing from 13 at the time of the A round in 2019 to 50 today with plans to double that by the end of next year. Mao says the founders have been thinking about how to build a diverse company from its early days.

“So [ … ] beginning last year we were making sure we were hiring the right leaders, and the right recruiting team who also care about diversity, then following that we made company-wide goals and targets for both gender and ethnic diversity, and then [we have been] holding ourselves accountable on these particular goals and tracking against them,” Mao said.

The company has been spread out from the beginning, even before COVID, with offices in Seattle, New York and Lithuania, and that has helped in terms of having a broader base to recruit from. Mao wants to remain mostly remote whenever it’s possible to return to the office, but maintain hubs on each coast where employees can meet and see each other in person.

With the product generally available today, the company will look to expand its customer base, and with the open-source project to drive interest, they have a proven way to attract new customers to the commercial product.

May
29
2020
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Cisco to acquire internet monitoring solution ThousandEyes

When Cisco bought AppDynamics in 2017 for $3.7 billion just before the IPO, the company sent a clear signal it wanted to move beyond its pure network hardware roots into the software monitoring side of the equation. Yesterday afternoon the company announced it intends to buy another monitoring company, this time snagging internet monitoring solution ThousandEyes.

Cisco would not comment on the price when asked by TechCrunch, but published reports from CNBC and others pegged the deal at around $1 billion. If that’s accurate, it means the company has paid around $4.7 billion for a pair of monitoring solutions companies.

Cisco’s Todd Nightingale, writing in a blog post announcing the deal said that the kind of data that ThousandEyes provides around internet user experience is more important than ever as internet connections have come under tremendous pressure with huge numbers of employees working from home.

ThousandEyes keeps watch on those connections and should fit in well with other Cisco monitoring technologies. “With thousands of agents deployed throughout the internet, ThousandEyes’ platform has an unprecedented understanding of the internet and grows more intelligent with every deployment, Nightingale wrote.

He added, “Cisco will incorporate ThousandEyes’ capabilities in our AppDynamics application intelligence portfolio to enhance visibility across the enterprise, internet and the cloud.”

As for ThousandEyes, co-founder and CEO Mohit Lad told a typical acquisition story. It was about growing faster inside the big corporation than it could on its own. “We decided to become part of Cisco because we saw the potential to do much more, much faster, and truly create a legacy for ThousandEyes,” Lad wrote.

It’s interesting to note that yesterday’s move, and the company’s larger acquisition strategy over the last decade is part of a broader move to software and services as a complement to its core networking hardware business.

Just yesterday, Synergy Research released its network switch and router revenue report and it wasn’t great. As companies have hunkered down during the pandemic, they have been buying much less network hardware, dropping the Q1 numbers to seven year low. That translated into a $1 billion less in overall revenue in this category, according to Synergy.

While Cisco owns the vast majority of the market, it obviously wants to keep moving into software services as a hedge against this shifting market. This deal simply builds on that approach.

ThousandEyes was founded in 2010 and raised over $110 million on a post valuation of $670 million as of February 2019, according to Pitchbook Data.

Oct
24
2019
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Grafana Labs nabs $24M Series A for open source-based data analytics stack

Grafana Labs, the commercial company built to support the open-source Grafana project, announced a healthy $24 million Series A investment today. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round with participation from Lead Edge Capital.

Company CEO and co-founder Raj Dutt says the startup started life as a way to offer a commercial layer on top of the open-source Grafana tool, but it has expanded and now supports other projects, including Loki, an open-source monitoring tool not unlike Prometheus, which the company developed last year.

All of this in the service of connecting to data sources and monitoring data. “Grafana has always been about connecting data together no matter where it lives, whether it’s in a proprietary database, on-prem database or cloud database. There are over 42 data sources that Grafana connects together,” Dutt explained.

But the company has expanded far beyond that. As it describes the product set, “Our products have begun to evolve to unify into a single offering: the world’s first composable open-source observability platform for metrics, logs and traces. Centered around Grafana.” This is exactly where other monitoring and logging tools like Elastic, New Relic and Splunk have been heading this year. The term “observability” is a term that’s been used often to describe these combined capabilities of metrics, logging and tracing.

Grafana Labs is the commercial arm of the open-source projects, and offers a couple of products built on top of these tools. First of all it has Grafana Enterprise, a package that includes enterprise-focused data connectors, enhanced authentication and security and enterprise-class support over and above what the open-source Grafana tool offers.

The company also offers a SaaS version of the Grafana tool stack, which is fully managed and takes away a bunch of the headaches of trying to download raw open-source code, install it, manage it and deal with updates and patches. In the SaaS version, all of that is taken care of for the customer for a monthly fee.

Dutt says the startup took just $4 million in external investment over the first five years, and has been able to build a business with 100 employees and 500 customers. He is particularly proud of the fact that the company is cash flow break-even at this point.

Grafana Labs decided the time was right to take this hefty investment and accelerate the startup’s growth, something they couldn’t really do without a big cash infusion. “We’ve seen this really virtuous cycle going with value creation in the community through these open-source projects that builds mind share, and that can translate into building a sustainable business. So we really want to accelerate that, and that’s the main reason behind the raise.”

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