DataStax Gets Cash to Leave Oracle in the Dust

Ask DataStax co-founders Jonathan Ellis and Matt Pfeil who their competition is and they won’t put a single NoSQL database provider on their list.

“It’s Oracle,” said Ellis. “We are displacing it as fast as we can,” adds Pfeil.

The pair is sure that the database that Larry Ellison helped build 37 years ago can’t handle today’s workloads. It can take Oracle five to seven minutes to execute the same query that DataStax’s enterprise version of Cassandra can answer in milliseconds, according to the pair.

Turning the Tables

And they know from where they speak, both Ellis and Pfeil worked at cloud hosting provider Rackspace 4 and a half years ago where they saw second generation databases struggle as they tried to handle the volume, velocity and variability of data in today’s world. They also saw how Apache Cassandra, which was first developed at Facebook, could handle thousands of requests per second without compromise.

Ellis, who was doing research on Cassandra at the time, sensed a huge opportunity in taking the still un-polished, open source, NoSQL database and making it enterprise worthy. So he turned his resignation letter in at Rackspace. When Pfeil found out that Ellis was leaving, he tried to talk him out of it.

“I turned the tables on him,” said Ellis. “I got him to leave with me.”

And they both unquestionably, made pretty smart moves.

Twenty-five percent of Fortune 500 companies are now DataStax customers. The company has grown from a handful of people four years ago to 350 going on 450 today. And in a world where developers are the king-makers, more than 10,000 coders, architects and engineers go to Cassandra Meetup worldwide.

Customized Experiences

Companies like Comcast are using DataStax to help users customize their experiences while they watch TV. It’s DataStax’s software that lets viewers customize their experiences with options like seeing the weather forecast or a football score while watching CSI and so on.

If you think DataStax has a success story that’s about to take off, you’re hardly alone. Today the company announces that it has raised $106 million in Series E funding today from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (KPCB),ClearBridge, Cross Creek and Wasatch, PremjiInvest, Comcast Ventures and others as well as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Scale Venture Partners who were initial investors.

What are they going to do with all that cash?

While most rapidly growing startups answer that question by telling us that they plan to build out their sales teams globally and such, the pair said that they will invest in development. After all, DataStax’s Cassandra was practically built for an era in which IoT, personalization. Recommendations, fraud detection and such are key business drivers and the demands for better, faster, smarter are never-ending.

“Oracle wasn’t designed for workloads like this,” said Pfeil. He doesn’t need to add that DataStax was.

And, hey, maybe Ellison will recognize that the next time he sails in the America’s Cup and realizes that all of the data his yacht’s sensors generate would be better off in DataStax’s Cassandra than Oracle which might very well crash if it tries to handle it.